Oscars 2022: Nominees Celebrate at Annual Luncheon

Oscars 2022: Nominees Celebrate at Annual Luncheon

Last year, for the first time since 1982, there was no Oscar Nominees Luncheon due to the pandemic. But the feel-good gathering at which everyone is still a winner returned on Monday, held at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City for the first time.

Despite ongoing tensions over the new format in which certain categories will be incorporated into the 94th Oscars telecast on March 27, the hundreds of nominees in attendance, who Oscars telecast producer Will Packer called “the best of the best” during his welcoming remarks, seemed to set aside bad feelings and basked at being in such impressive company.

At the luncheon, nominees are always seated with people from different films and different categories, as well as an Academy governor or past president, which forces everyone to mingle beyond their existing friend circle.

This year, some tables boasted particular star-wattage — for example, best actor nominee Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) and best actress nominee Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), a married couple, were seated with best director nominee Spielberg (West Side Story) and best adapted screenplay nominee Sian Heder (CODA), who brought the film’s lead Emilia Jones as her date, as well as past Academy president Sid Ganis.

During breaks, attendees seated at other tables, including best international feature nominees Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World) and Teruhisa Yamamoto (Drive My Car), lined up to shake hands with, request photographs with and, in Yamamoto’s case, even bow before Spielberg, who couldn’t have been more gracious towards all comers.


Oscar Nominees Luncheon

During the event’s formal portion, when people were seated and nibbling on vegetarian meal, Packer introduced a short video (first played at the luncheon a few years ago) in which Kate McKinnon plays an old movie star warning nominees, in humorous way, not to give long or boring speeches if they win.

Academy president David Rubin, who is in his final term before terming-out, thanked Packer, acknowledged the Academy’s outgoing CEO Dawn Hudson and asked the governors in the room to take a bow.

The actors branch governor Alfred Molina read aloud each nominee, summoning them to one of two stages in the room to pose with other nominees for small group photos, which will later be digitally combined so that it will resemble the usual full class photo.

When their names were called, best actor nominees Will Smith (King Richard) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) danced along to the music as they made their way to the risers.

Best original song nominees and siblings Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (No Time to Die) cheered as best actress nominee Kristen Stewart (Spencer) took a spot near them.

Netflix chief Ted Sarandos cheered on the field-leading number of nominees from The Power of the Dog, while the deaf individuals associated with the best picture nominee CODA and the best documentary short nominee Audible applauded each other by waving their hands in the air.

Best supporting actress nominees Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) and Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) attracted a particularly loud applause.

Those who spoke on the record were supportive of giving this new method of presentation a try, and then reassessing the situation after the show.

Executives branch governor and Academy vice president-secretary and governance committee chair Donna Gigliotti, produced the 91st Oscars telecast. “I tried to do this in my year as producer and the board of governors changed their minds. But as an officer now, I just couldn’t see doing that to Will Packer. And the bottom line is that when people see what the show looks like, everybody will be happy.” She added, “ABC has always wanted a three-hour show, but that aside, what the data shows is that when you go beyond the three-hour mark, people turn off their televisions, particularly on the east coast. So if you want people to watch the entire show, wrap it up at the three-hour mark.”

Any chance the board will backtrack again?

“No. That was a kind of momentous decision by the officers, to say, ‘We’re not backtracking. We’re going to hold the line.’ It’s important for, frankly, the survival of the Academy. That’s really what it amounts to.

Writers branch governor and Academy vice president Larry Karaszewski said, “I’m happy there’s experimentation. We’re trying to make the show as good as possible. Let’s have fun with the show. We used to give awards to Charlie McCarthy! Let’s make the show fun again. Everyone’s going to still be on the show and everyone’s going to still get their moment.”