At the 41st Oscar Nominees Luncheon, which was held at the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom on Monday, any remaining doubts about Tom Cruise’s status as Hollywood’s biggest movie star were put to rest for good. Cruise’s nomination for producing Top Gun: Maverick was his first appearance of the awards season.
First-time nominees stood in line to meet Cruise, and he greeted them with a handshake, a selfie, and a smile worth a million dollars. Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani Nobel laureate who was there to support the documentary short nominee Stranger at the Gate, greeted him with great enthusiasm. She might have been the most famous person in the room if she hadn’t been there. Both Guillermo del Toro, whose movie Pinocchio was nominated for best-animated feature, and Steven Spielberg, whose movie The Fabelmans was nominated for producing, directing, and writing, pushed their way through the crowd to meet their fans and got bear hugs in return.
The president of the Academy, Janet Yang, told the 186 nominees or, in the case of four people, the directors of international films that were nominated for an Oscar, “You are all winners.” She didn’t say that this wouldn’t be true on March 12 at the 95th Oscars, which will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and where only a small number of nominees will win the coveted golden statuette. Jimmy Kimmel will be the host of the event, and ABC will show it.
Yang’s comment about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards, which ruined the ceremony, cast a brief cloud over an otherwise happy gathering. She started by saying, “Today, I think it’s important to use this rare chance, while we’re all here, to talk about some of the Academy’s problems from the past year.” “I’m sure everyone remembers that the Oscars this year were the scene of a truly historic event. Everything that happened on stage was very disgusting, and the group’s response was not strong. This taught us that we need to be open and responsible all the time, but especially when things are going wrong. For the sake of our company and our field, we need to act quickly, with compassion, and quickly. You should and can expect nothing less from us in the future. Our business is committed to setting and keeping the best standards in the industry and making the changes we’d like to see.
The Academy’s first president also indirectly criticised the controversial decision not to show all 23 prizes live during the show last year. “Our focus for the next Oscars will be on togetherness, teamwork, and the collaborative nature of movies,” she said. We’ll be honouring “the strength of complete film crews” and “the magic that happens behind the scenes to make movies possible and powerful.” And, to even louder applause, she said, “This year, we worked so hard to give all the awards live at the event, so we need to be careful not to go over time.” You have no choice but to work with us. You are, after all, watching a live show. So, speeches of acceptance should be short and to the point. She said that the winners would have “no more than 45 seconds” to say something.
Academy governor DeVon Franklin called up the nominees one by one to take their places on bleachers set up for the annual “class photo.” This came after a montage of clips taken from social media posts in which some of this year’s nominees reacted in real time to the news of their nominations on January 24.
From where I was standing, the nominees who got the most enthusiastic applause were: Sarah Polley, nominated for an adapted screenplay for Women Talking. Michael Shannon, nominated for a supporting role in Causeway. Jamie Lee Curtis, nominated for a supporting role in Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Michelle Yeoh, nominated for a lead role. Ke Huy Quan, nominated for a supporting role in Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.