BY MIKE CIDONI LENNOX, SANDY COHEN and LINDSEY BAHR
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The Oscar nominees luncheon brings together A-listers and rising stars — artists from every aspect of filmmaking — for an afternoon of celebration and mutual fandom.
With little on the agenda other than posing for a group photo, Monday’s gathering was a chance for nominees to bask together in their exalted status together before the Academy Awards are presented on March 4.
The atmosphere makes for some fun moments.
First-time acting nominees Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya high-fived at every opportunity. Greta Gerwig and Meryl Streep chatted on the risers before the class photo next to a cardboard cutout of Agnes Varda brought to the event by her “Faces Places” co-director JR.
Gerwig playfully choked best supporting actor nominee Sam Rockwell on the red carpet, and many of the stars and filmmakers exchanged laughs as they assembled — all 170 of them — for the class photo.
The nominee having the most fun was Kobe Bryant, whose “Dear Basketball” is up for animated short. Bryant wore a permanent grin and posed for photos with anyone who asked.
The event includes some pointers about giving good speeches , and also a chance for nominees to reflect on their place in this Oscars season.
Here are some more moments from interviews with nominees conducted by The Associated Press at the nominees’ luncheon event:
BEST PICTURE MISTAKE STILL STINGS
Returning Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel has been poking fun at last year’s best picture mix up in promotional spots for this year’s Oscars, but it’s not a laughing matter for some.
“La La Land” lyricist Justin Paul says the envelope gaffe was a bit of a soft spot for some of his friends and colleagues involved in the film. Paul says that he understands why it’s still being talked about and to not mention it at all would be awkward.
“We have some wonderful, brilliant friends and colleagues who you know, it was a little bit of a soft spot, a sore spot in that moment, so we can totally understand it but I don’t know if we’re the ones laughing along the most,” Paul said Monday.
“La La Land” was mistakenly announced as the best picture winner at last year’s Oscars before the error was caught and “Moonlight” was named the winner of the evening’s top prize.
Paul and Benj Pasek are nominated year for “The Greatest Showman” song “This is Me.”
They said that they’re able to enjoy awards season a little more this time and are five percent less terrified at every event.
DEE REES LOOKS BEHIND HER HISTORIC NOMINATION
“Mudbound” director and co-writer Dee Rees said Monday she is more interested in the future than she is excited about making history.
Rees recently became the first black woman to get nominated for a best adapted screenplay Academy Award. “Mudbound” also scored another historic nomination for cinematographer Rachel Morrison, who became that category’s first female nominee.
Rees said she wants the entertainment industry to get to a place where this is an everyday occurrence and not news.
“I think it’s like cause for reflection and to really ask ourselves you know could there have been other moments and why is this the first time,” Rees said. “And again I think it’s more about using the moment to think how do we make the future a place where this isn’t news making or this is an everyday occurrence.”
Unlike many of the nominees, her film was released by Netflix on the streaming platform. Rees says it proves that audiences are interested in content and not business models. She says watching Indiana Jones on television growing up didn’t impact her awe of the filmmaking.
OH, I GET IT NOW
“The Shape of Water” director Guillermo del Toro was still riding high Monday from his Directors Guild Award win on Saturday night. The Mexican director was all smiles thinking about the evening with his peers.
Del Toro said the night was fun and praised Judd Apatow’s hosting skills, although he admitted that one joke aimed at him went over his head at the time.
Apatow poked fun during Saturday’s ceremony at del Toro’s director’s photo, quipping that it was like an eHarmony profile picture.
Del Toro said Monday that he didn’t actually know what eHarmony was when Apatow made the joke and that he had to look it up. He thinks it’s quite funny now.
BRUISED, BUT NOT GIVING UP ON BASKETBALL
Common was looking so dapper Monday for the nominees’ luncheon you could hardly tell he was trying to hide a black eye.
The musician and producer said he was trying to look good after getting beat up on the basketball court this weekend. Common donned a pair of glasses in hopes of hiding the little remaining bruise, although he was quick to pull out his phone and show photos of how his face looked after the accidental hit.
Common laughed that might have gotten a mild concussion from it.
It certainly didn’t sour him on basketball: he was one of numerous stars who posed for photos with retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who is nominated for his short animated film “Dear Basketball.”
Common is nominated for a best original song alongside Diane Warren for “Stand Up for Something” from the film “Marshall.”
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