The annual Academy Award nominees luncheon on Monday was a star-studded event where the crème de la crème of this year’s Oscars hopefuls from both blockbuster hits “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” to less recognized talents gathered for a celebratory afternoon. The Beverly Hilton was abuzz with excitement as first-time nominees and seasoned stalwarts alike mingled in anticipation of the grand class photo, shared hearty handshakes, and exchanged warm hugs.

Christopher Nolan, in the running for Best Director for the critically-acclaimed “Oppenheimer,” graced the luncheon alongside his wife and the film’s producer, Emma Thomas. The couple were among the many luminaries partaking in the laid-back elegance of the event, with Nolan standing as a pillar in the categories of Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture as well.

The dress code, kept deliberately casual, sparked an array of fashion statements. Ryan Gosling opted for a sharp lilac suit, Margot Robbie dazzled in a light pink beaded business suit featuring a bared midriff, and Colman Domingo added a touch of the evening flair with his tailed black jacket and white slacks combo, setting a diverse sartorial scene.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, both nominated for their work in “Poor Things,” were spotted at the luncheon, which prides itself as a warm, feel-good affair. It breaks down barriers, allowing nominees of various categories, such as best animated short, to rub shoulders with famed actors like Gosling and Stone.

Notably, Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie turned heads and elicited smiles, despite being notably snubbed for best director and best actress for “Barbie,” respectively. Their presence was a testament to the accolades they did earn, with Gerwig up for adapted screenplay and Robbie as a producer of “Barbie.” Gerwig, upon entering, found herself encircled by eager fans wanting selfies, while Robbie enjoyed lively conversations with Sandra Hüller of “Anatomy of a Fall.”

One of the luncheon’s highlights is the eagerly anticipated class photo, bringing together nearly all nominees in a democratic display of unity and recognition. Gerwig and Robbie received some of the most enthusiastic cheers, and their names were announced alongside their peers in what feels like a cross between a commencement ceremony and a moment of pure equality.

Amid the mix of nominees, legendary director Martin Scorsese received a thunderous ovation. Nominated for best director for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” he found his place amongst the celebrated leading actresses of the year, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and his own film’s star, Lily Gladstone.

Adding to the string of memorable moments was Robert Downey Jr., who brought his characteristic charm to the event. When the class photo finally came together after several attempts, he jumped up in jubilation, celebrating the collective accomplishment of the gathering.

Notables like Cillian Murphy, a frontrunner for best actor in “Oppenheimer,” and his competitor Bradley Cooper were among those who made the most of their time at the venue, engaging with media personalities stationed by the Beverly Hilton pool.

In a heartwarming moment, Bradley Cooper encountered Messi, the talented border collie from “Anatomy of a Fall,” showing the furry star some affection with a thorough petting session.

As the nominees dined on a vegetarian feast, Academy President Janet Yang delivered her address. In stark contrast to the previous year’s focus on the Oscar night incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock, Yang’s speech this year was light-hearted. She reminded attendees of essential details, such as the Oscars ceremony starting an hour earlier and the coinciding shift to daylight saving time.

Yang also imparted the annual guidance on acceptance speeches, emphasizing brevity, genuine emotion, humor, and adherence to the 45-second limit. To illustrate, she played a montage of past speeches that exemplified these qualities, concluding with Javier Bardem’s 37-second best supporting actor acceptance speech for “No Country for Old Men,” considered a perfect example by the Academy.

As the luncheon wrapped up, nominees left the Beverly Hilton with full bellies and perhaps fuller hearts, warmed by the camaraderie and mutual respect that defined the afternoon, looking forward to the grandeur of the Oscar ceremony itself.

By IPL Agent

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