Snoop, the border collie featured in best picture nominee Anatomy of a Fall, and figurines of monsters from Godzilla: Minus One, a nominee for best visual effects, competed for attention with A-listers including Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon.
Per tradition, the gathering of nominees from across the 23 Oscar categories — along with their plus ones, members of the Academy’s board of governors and a handful of journalists also in the room — took place in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. Unlike Oscar night itself, nominees tend to feel less nervous at the luncheon, at which they are deliberately seated with nominees from other categories and films, and from which everyone leaves a winner. (See photos of the arrivals.)
Table groupings included Poor Things’ Stone, Maestro’s Cooper and American Symphony’s Jon Batiste; Oppenheimer’s Christopher Nolan, Killers of the Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone and Perfect Days’ Wim Wenders; Oppenheimer’s Downey, The Holdovers’ Alexander Payne and Anatomy of a Fall’s Justine Triet; and Barbie’s Greta Gerwig, Society of the Snow’s J.A. Bayona and Academy governor Ava DuVernay.
Notable plus-ones included Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, whose music inspired the best animated short nominee War Is Over!; Hailee Steinfeld and Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya, guests of the directors of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, for which they voiced characters; Oscar-winning actress Sissy Spacek, accompanying her nominated husband, Killers of the Flower Moon production designer Jack Fisk; Chief Standing Bear of Osage Nation, also a Killers of the Flower Moon guest; Ugandan politician Bobi Wine, subject of the nominated documentary feature Bobi Wine: The People’s President; the grandmothers featured in the nominated documentary short Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó; the 101-year-old featured in the nominated documentary short The ABCs of Book Banning; the husband of Past Lives writer/director Celine Song, who helped to inspire the film; and the aforementioned Snoop, who posed for pictures with the likes of Gosling and Mark Ronson.
Academy president Janet Yang welcomed attendees to “a major highlight of the awards season.” To oohs and ahhs, she offered a reminder that the 96th Oscars on March 10 will start an hour earlier than usual, at 4pm PST, and that daylight saving time kicks in that same day, meaning people should double-check their clocks. She also urged eventual Oscar night winners to keep their speeches to just 45 seconds in length, which, for groups who share a win, can be used by only one designee.
This year’s nominees range from Oppenheimer sound mixer Kevin O’Connell, on his 22nd nomination (who also did the sound this year for Barbie, aka the full Barbenheimer, and assured me that Oscar Nominees Luncheons never feel like old hat), to Christine Vachon, a first-time nominee for producing Past Lives. Nominees also include a current Academy governor Jean Tsien (co-director of the nominated documentary short Island in Between) and two past Academy governors Laura Karpman (American Fiction’s composer) and Mark Johnson (The Holdovers’ producer).
After a vegetarian lunch was served, videos were shown of a number of nominees reacting to the news of their noms several weeks ago, including American Fiction’s Sterling K. Brown, Barbie’s America Ferrera and Flamin’ Hot’s Diane Warren. And then producer DeVon Franklin, an Academy vice president, read the names of all of the nominees. To my ear, for whatever it’s worth, the loudest ovations in the room went to Barbie’s Robbie and Gerwig, Oppenheimer’s Downey (whose name was the last called) and Nolan and The Holdovers’ Paul Giamatti. Also receiving big applause: Gladstone, Stone, Brown, Anatomy of a Fall’s Sandra Hüller, Barbie’s Ferrera and Billie Eilish, Oppenheimer’s Emily Blunt, Killers of the Flower Moon’s Martin Scorsese, Maestro’s Steven Spielberg and Poor Things’ Mark Ruffalo.