Oscar Celebrates Its Nominees With Food, Drink and Sweat Shirts
2/14/2006 5:01 PM PT
By SANDY COHEN, AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
Joaquin Phoenix rubbed elbows with Terrence Howard. Tan, blond stunner Charlize Theron threw her arms around Matt Dillon. Reese Witherspoon chatted with Michelle Williams, who clutched fiance Heath Ledger's hand. And hip-hop songwriter Paul Beauregard, wearing armloads of diamonds and a black baseball cap, flashed his jewel-encrusted smile.
Welcome to the 25th annual Oscar-nominees luncheon.
With their beef tenderloin and Chilean sea bass growing cold on their tables, 116 Academy Award nominees -- from actors to visual-effects designers -- moved and schmoozed their way onto a set of risers for an Oscar-class photo Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Side by side, costume designers next to directors, sound mixers near screenplay writers and famous faces aside not-so-famous faces, they celebrated their membership in Hollywood's most exclusive club.
"There are no winners here today," said Academy president Sid Ganis as they assembled. "There are no losers here today."
The gathering, he emphasized, was just a chance for the industry's elite to "come together, relax and enjoy their nominee-ness."
After the group photo, the honorees dispersed one by one as their names were called, collecting applause from their peers. And from Ganis, each got a handshake, a nomination certificate and a special-issue Academy sweat shirt.
Thrice-nominated George Clooney got a little something extra: a pat on the butt from the Academy president.
When Howard, best-actor nominee for "Hustle & Flow," heard his name, he curtsied for the crowd. Phoenix, a best-actor nominee for "Walk the Line," was so excited that he bounded down the risers, nearly knocking over a human-sized Oscar statue, and leaped into Ganis' arms.
"Capote" director Bennett Miller, looking boyish in slim-fitting jeans and floppy, unkempt curls, shuffled up to Ganis. "Munich" best-director nominee Steven Spielberg, who Ganis said attended the first nominees luncheon 25 years ago, proudly strutted up to the Academy honcho and gave him a hug.