Live from the red carpet, it’s Indiewire! Before the 88th Annual Academy Awards kicked off inside Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, the evening’s guests had to actually make their way into the building, facilitated by a cushy red carpet and a lot of very excited journalists and fans eager to get a word in with some of the nominees (and eventual winners). Indiewire occupied a choice spot on the carpet (by the photo alley, in the range of a light breeze, close enough to touch Cate Blanchett at one point), and we snagged a few of the night’s most exciting stars for a quick chat before the night really got rolling.
The red carpet: Sometimes, the pre-party is just as good as the actual event.
Below is a collection of some of the best quips, lines and insights from of this year’s most exciting nominees, straight from our place on the red carpet.
Laszlo Nemes and Geza Rohrig, Best Foreign Language Film winner, “Son of Saul”
The “Son of Saul” duo, director and co-writer Laszlo Nemes and his star Geza Rohrig, were still reeling from their win at Saturday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards when they hit the Oscars red carpet on Sunday afternoon, not realizing they were just hours away from winning an Academy Award. “We were not expecting this,” Nemes said about the Sprits win. “It was a great surprise and the feeling in the room [was] very positive. It was extremely humbling.”
When asked about the film’s continued recognition since it debuted at Cannes in May of last year, Rohrig said, “It certainly pleases us. It’s a hard subject matter, but I think we feel the interest, and that’s very moving, especially coming from the younger generations. For them, to see this movie and be shaken by it, that means a lot.”
For Nemes, it remains a personal subject. “My family was greatly effected by the Holocaust. I don’t really have a family because of the Holocaust. We carry a wound in ourselves, and that’s something that cannot be forgotten from generation to generation. We carry the voices of those who were not able to talk.”
Michael Sugar, Best Picture winner, “Spotlight”
There may be no Oscar for best producer, but that’s where the best picture category comes into dazzling play. “Spotlight,” hot off some big wins at the Indie Spirits, eventually took home the best picture statuette, but producer Michael Sugar didn’t seem to be thinking too much about that when he hit the red carpet. The first-time nominee was still just high on the experience. In fact, the first words out of his mouth were, “We had a phenomenal day yesterday!”
“I can smell it, taste it, feel it. I could sing about it, I dream about it. It’s been wonderful, but it’s time for it to be done,” Sugar said when asked about the approaching end of awards season.
Earlier in the day, some of Sugar’s “Spotlight” brethren protested the Catholic church in downtown Los Angeles. While Sugar was not there, he was pleased with the event. “SNAP, the survivors’ network, were having a rally in support of the film, and I know that Tom [McCarthy] and Josh [Singer] went down to support them. A lot of survivors showed up.”
Asked if he hopes the film will help facilitate changes within the church, Sugar said, “I certainly hope for it, that’s why I want to win an Oscar more than anything, because millions more people will see this film if it wins. The more people that see it, the more lives can be changed. We’ve seen it happen everyday.”
Phyllis Nagy, Best Adapted Screenplay, “Carol”
Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy didn’t pull out the win on Oscar night, but that was never the aim of her years-long work on adapting the Patricia Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt” for the big screen. “It’s the end of a very long road with ‘Carol,'” Nagy said. “It seems absolutely appropriate that it should end with something this surreal.”
For Nagy, part of that journey involves cheering for the rest of her “Carol” crew, including Oscar nominees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. “I cannot think of two other actresses who could so embody those roles that well. It’s a dream come true to have people like that,” she said.
Joshua Oppenheimer, Best Documentary nominee, “The Look of Silence”
Although he didn’t win for best documentary, Joshua Oppenheimer did take home an Indie Spirit award the day before. Still, he had bigger things on his mind, including an upcoming trip to the nation’s capitol to share his revelatory second film about the Indonesian genocide.
“I think the most important thing for Americans [to understand] is that this genocide is American history. The U.S. helped engineer the whole killing machine and supported the military dictatorship for decades. We have to do exactly the same work that the Indonesians have to do. We have to declassify our documents, acknowledge what we’ve done and take responsibility for it,” Oppenheimer said.
Later this week, they’ll be in Washington, D.C. to meet with government leaders to discuss such changes. “This is fun, and funny, but bear in mind, this is the entrance to one of Los Angeles’ not necessarily nicest malls,” he said, gesturing around the Hollywood and Highland center. “But we can make a difference, despite the silliness of all of this, and that’s what matters.”
Matt Charman, Best Original screenplay, “Bridge of Spies”
First-time nominee Matt Charman was nothing short of giddy on the carpet, happily remembering how he used to watch the show from his flat in London in his pajamas. He sure looked a bit different on Oscar Sunday, and still seemed happy to have even worked with the cast and crew on “Bridge of Spies.”
“To work with Steven Spielberg on anything is just, the summit for me. So being here is like a little flag that we’re sticking in the top,” he said. “It’s a remarkable experience going through this with Steven Spielberg.”
Tobias Lindholm and Pilou Asbaek, Best Foreign Language Film nominee, “A War”
The “A War” duo arrived early and ready to bring a special kind of joy to the entire event. When asked what it was like to be at the Oscars, star Pilou Asbaek (who is currently filming “Ghost in the Shell,” and had the platinum hair to match) joked, “Very boring, uninspiring, not a dream coming true!”
Still, the pair is ready to get to their normal lives, and director Tobias Lindholm said of awards season, “It’s a dream coming true, but at the same time, it’s keeping me away from what I love most, my job and my family. I am looking forward to Wednesday, being back in my house in Copenhagen, opening my computer, and starting to write something new.”