Sunday night after the Oscars I went to the Governor’s Ball, where Tony Bennett sang four songs, raw seafood was piled high on ice, and towers of chocolate flowed along with the champagne. Academy execs Dawn Hudson and Ric Robertson were relieved to have endured a long and turbulent Oscar season; Wolfgang Puck was happy to have managed the change from a sit-down dinner to a buffet style repast. I happily munched on a gold chocolate Oscar.
The place to hang was the area set aside for the winners to engrave their Oscars; Meryl Streep and a hobbling Octavia Spencer had just left when the last man arrived: Jean Dujardin. Afterwards some folks headed to a private Fox Searchlight affair at My House on LaBrea; Indiewire editor Dana Harris and I proceeded along traffic-crammed Sunset to the Mondrian, where the last Weinstein party of the season was under way. Meryl Streep was leaving the VIP area just as we arrived, as Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, who just made a pivotal deal with the Weinsteins, was ushered in.
I felt like I was at Cannes; everyone was speaking French. Cannes festival chief Thierry Fremaux had reason to celebrate, having accepted “The Artist” in competition; eventually Dujardin won best actor. Michel Hazanavicius, Oscar in hand, celebrated with Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval , who was in good spirits too. After all, he backed the movie and told Harvey Weinstein to see it before Cannes. The rest is history.On my way back to the car walking along Sunset past the crowds outside the Vanity Fair party, I congratulated Sony Pictures Classics’ co-president Michael Barker, who had two winners that night, “Midnight in Paris” and “A Separation.” It was time to go to home, we agreed.
Oscar weekend began on Thursday with a yummy dinner at Barbrix on Hyperion near the Indiewire office, with ex-IW editors Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks as well as visiting New York staffers Eric Kohn and Nigel Smith and LA-based Harris and publisher James Israel. A group of us then repaired to The Other Side, a civilized piano bar where folks who know how to sing give their sheet music to the piano player and belt out show tunes to a friendly crowd. It was the calm before the storm.
Friday brought back-to-back Oscar celebrations. First was BAFTA, where champagne flowed in the back yard of British Consul-General Dame Barbara Hay’s Hancock Park home. On hand to celebrate 21 UK Oscar nominations and three new David Hockney unveilings were Oscar nominees Gary Oldman in a natty bow tie (he’s ramping up his next directing gig); Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”), Kenneth Branagh (“My Week with Marilyn”), “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” director Stephen Daldry (who is working on the Olympics), and eventual Oscar winners, Northern Ireland’s Terry George (“The Shore”) and Canada’s Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”).
There was more champagne at the Women in Film Oscar party at Cecconi’s, where WIF president Cathy Schulman, Barbara Boyle and Susan Cartsonis welcomed Oscar presenter Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother Blythe Danner as well as nominees McTeer, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), Lucy Walker (“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”), Annie Mumolo (Original Screenplay for “Bridesmaids”), Sandy Powell (Costume Design for “Hugo”), producer Dede Gardner (Best Picture for “The Tree of Life”), Best Actor nominee Demian Bichir (“A Better Life’) and Thelma Schoonmaker (Editor, “Hugo”). Also attending were Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, “The Descendants”‘ Shailene Woodley, Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, “The Help”‘s Allison Janney, Jennifer Beals and Ziyi Zhang.
Sitting on a banquette with Spencer, Davis admitted that she had been feeling flutters, but “I feel better,” she said, after Thursday night’s Alfre Woodard soiree. During Disney/Dreamworks’ extensive Oscar campaign, from BFCA, SAG, Globes and Santa Barbara to BAFTAs, Smiley and Oprah, Elizabeth Stewart helped Davis with her outfits. “I couldn’t do this myself, believe me,” she insisted. Her husband, Julius Tennon, was home tending their daughter Genesis, adopted last year. Davis decided to go with honest candor in her approach to interviews, which almost won her the Oscar.
Catherine Hardwicke talked about how nervous people get when there are too many women on a film crew. Walker was fretting about what dress to wear to the show (she picked vintage couture). She was starting to shoot a documentary short about the Japanese fascination with cherry blossoms when the earthquake and tsunami intervened last year. She decided to go to the site of the disaster and shoot anyway. Quicky, she figured out how to weave one film with the other.
At the end of the night, cable network ShortsHD hosted their Second Annual Shorts Awards at Soho House. They gave all the Oscar nominees a plaque, and presented a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award to “Wallace & Gromit” creator Nick Park, who gave a video acceptance speech, saying: “I’ve always loved making short films. It’s a good way to get ideas out quickly. Many see it as a stepping stone to features, but I will always go back to short films.”
As of Friday, ShortsHD announced, their theatrical release of Oscar-nominated shorts had grossed $1.196 million. This year the awards show introduced the Shorts Technology Awards. Winners were the Apple iPhone 4S and Pure Blend Software’s Movie Slate app. The Shorts Awards presented visionary awards to Ray McKinnon, Marcy Page, Bill Plympton and no-show Joan Collins, and an International Award to Turkey, which mounts the Golden Orange Film Festival.
Saturday brought the annual Spirit Awards, which is less about the show itself and winning and losing than the pre-show hobnobbing outside. I always take photos. (I will post more here later.) After the Spirits many attendees (among them Sundance’s Michelle Satter, LAFF’s David Ansen, LACMA host Elvis Mitchell, producers Ron Yerxa and Sam Kitt, NYFF’s Rose Kuo, MCN’s David Poland) jammed into a noisy local basement bar, while others dispersed into the night. Sophia Savage and I hung out with my former THR colleague Bec Smith, now a formidable UTA agent, and the filmmakers of “Bill Cunningham, New York,” director Richard Press and producer and photography critic Philip Gefter, who is a Getty scholar writing a book about Robert Mapplethorpe’s partner, curator Sam Wasgtaff. As Sophia and I escaped the din, the “Bellflower” gang roared up in the Medusa car.
The Indiewire team wound up at the BLT Steakhouse at what used to be Le Dome on Sunset, at a lovely party thrown by Best Actress Spirit Nominee Rachael Harris (SXSW prize winner “Natural Selection”) before getting ready to take on the Big Show.