Oscar nominees relax at annual luncheon before the big event

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2015 7:06 PM
Oscar nominees relax at annual luncheon before the big event

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Awards season is a stressful endeavor for even the most seasoned actor or actress, but at the Oscar nominee luncheon everyone is still a winner.

The annual event, which took place Monday at the Beverly Hilton, is one of the rare, low-pressure respites from the madness where over 150 nominees (out of 195), including the likes of Michael Keaton, Reese Witherspoon, Bradley Cooper, Rosamund Pike and Eddie Redmayne, can meet, mingle and enjoy each other's company before the golden statuettes are handed out on Feb. 22.

Best actress contender Julianne Moore ("Still Alice") said backstage that the luncheon feels more like a massive press junket where everyone is in the same movie than an actual competition.

"I've worked with so many of the other nominees," she said, adding that they've all gotten to know each other well on the monthslong awards trail.

Laura Dern, nominated for her supporting performance in "Wild," said that her Hollywood lineage has made events like this a homecoming of sorts. "Some of my best friends are in that room and happen to be nominated also," she said.

There was no tension between competing movies and casts in the ballroom either.

Oprah Winfrey, a producer of best picture nominee "Selma," greeted best actor nominee Keaton ("Birdman") at the luncheon and went in for a hug. Keaton, battling a cold, tried to avoid the contact, but Winfrey hugged him anyway and gave him a high-five. "What a ride!" she exclaimed.

While much of the chatter stayed light and joyful, backstage, "American Sniper" nominee Bradley Cooper took a moment to reflect on the politically polarizing movie and the fact that his character, Chris Kyle, was killed exactly two years ago today.

"To have the audacity to think that it would cause any effect at all would be very presumptuous," he said. "But any discussion that sheds light (on) the plight of the soldiers and the men and women in the armed services ... is fantastic."

In the room, though, Cooper could take a moment to enjoy himself. He also got a warm hug out of Keaton before stopping to pose for a photo with his fellow best actor nominee.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs opened the event, which only has lunch, mingling and the famous "class photo" on the schedule. While inviting nominees to pose for the photo, actor Ed Begley Jr. accidentally introduced Edward Norton as a best supporting actor nominee for "The Grand Budapest Hotel." While Norton does appear in Wes Anderson's Oscar-nominated movie, he is actually nominated for his work in "Birdman."

Neil Patrick Harris, who will host the 87th Oscar ceremony, also spoke briefly.

"We're going to be spending Oscar night together where everything will be hilarious," Harris said. "Where everything will be hilarious," he repeated multiple times while pretending to hypnotize the crowd.

After the lunch, telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron took a moment to remind everyone to keep their acceptance speeches short, which was no surprise to anyone who has attended the nominees luncheon in the past.

"Viewers are hoping you will inspire them and touch them in some way," Zadan said. Winners will have 45 seconds to speak at the ceremony.

"The show is three hours," Zadan said. "And if you speak longer, it will be four hours."

The 87th Oscars will air live on ABC on Feb. 22 and is expected to reach 1 billion viewers in 225 countries and territories.

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to the report.

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Online: www.oscars.org

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr