Will Smith, Kristen Stewart, Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and more on hand for event
By Dolores Quintana
The Academy Award Nominee Luncheon returned to the Fairmont Century City and excited nominees could barely be bothered to be interested in the lunch itself due to the excitement of being able to meet with their peers and fellow nominees as reported by NBC Los Angeles.
The luncheon was not held in 2021 due to pandemic concerns and many of the nominees were more excited about being able to see their friends and colleagues after the long absence. Actors like Will Smith and Denzel Washington grabbed each other’s hand and smiled when they saw each other. Emilia Jones, star of “Coda”, spoke in sign language to her co-star Daniel Durant who played her brother in the film. Clad in Chanel, Kristen Stewart circulated throughout the room, after arriving with her fiance, Dylan Meyer. Questlove, a nominee for his documentary “Summer Of Soul”, shook hands with Ted Sarandos, a Netflix executive. Benedict Cumberbatch, actor nominee for “Power Of The Dog” made the rounds with his wife Sophie Hunter while holding hands. The attendees refused to acknowledge calls from the podium to be seated due to their excitement.
Academy Awards producer Will Packer said, as quoted by NBC Los Angeles, “Just being back together without a hazmat suit is cause for celebration. This is a year like no other, this is THE year.”
Lunch was the last thing on most of the attendees minds as actors like Bradley Cooper, nominated as a producer for best picture nominee “Nightmare Alley”, continued to greet fellow nominees like Questlove and Steven Spielberg conversed with Paul Thomas Anderson, both of whom are nominated for Best Director this year.
The excitement extended to those for whom the luncheon was a first time experience. Andrew Garfield, nominated for his first Oscar for the film “tick, tick…Boom”, said that it was a “special moment”, as quoted by NBC Los Angeles, to be there with other nominees like “PTA and Ariana”, referring to Paul Thomas Anderson, director of best picture nominee Licorice Pizza, and Ariana DeBose, an actor nominated for West Side Story.
Kim Morgan said, as quoted by NBC Los Angeles, “I’m a writer.” and seemed a little overcome by the event as a first time attendee and screenwriter of “Nightmare Alley”.
“Raya And The Last Dragon” nominated animator Osnat Shurer was thrilled to meet best actress nominee for “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” Jessica Chastain and said, as quoted by NBC Los Angeles, that it was a joy to be at the luncheon and made sure to tell Chastain that that she loved her performance. Chastain let Shurer know that she was a fan of “Raya” herself because her children frequently watch the film.
One of the topics that was on most of the nominees minds was the changes made to the Oscar ceremony this year. The Academy has decided to remove eight of the below the line categories and awards from the broadcast. Some of the nominees are against this move and some are supportive of it.
Penélope Cruz, an actor nominated for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers”, said, as quoted by NBC Los Angeles, that she was “very emotional” and that she was happy “to see how the Academy opens a little more every year.”. Her husband Javier Bardem is an actor nominated for “Being The Ricardos”. Cruz did note that she was not happy about the categories that were being dropped from the broadcast and said “Every single category is important. I believe that when people are watching the ceremony they know we depend on (them) … all these departments are equally important.”
Denis Villaneuve, director of “Dune”, said “That’s very sad, too, when it’s supposed to be a celebration. We’ll see how it goes this year. I’ll be there at 4 p.m. to clap … for all of my collaborators, for everybody.” and surmised that those in the eight categories must feel humiliated by the action as quoted by NBC Los Angeles.
Oscar winning hair and makeup artist, Bill Corso, was part of the committee that made this controversial decision. He received his Academy Award in the aisle of the theatre which was another attempt to shorten the ceremony’s broadcast time and he said that he felt he didn’t get his moment as an award winner, as quoted by NBC Los Angeles. He hopes that the change, in which the footage of the winners accepting their awards will be edited into the broadcast in a way that won’t be obtrusive, will allow the winners to truly enjoy their win.