"I feel recharged!" said Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer as the 82-year-old just glowed backstage holding his golden statuette (he is the oldest Oscar winner to date) at The 84th Academy Awards. Journalists from around the world packed into the pressroom (far more than normal) and my favorite buffet of fried goodness (thank you Academy) was available for the long day. I arrived sometime between Sacha Baron Cohen dumping Kim Jong-Il's ashes/Bisquick on Ryan Seacrest and J. Lo hitting the carpet. To work! The winners came back beaming, trophies in hand. One of my favorite moments was when the winner of Best Docu Short Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (the first Pakistani director to win an Oscar) gave Angelina Jolie (@AngiesRightLeg) a copy of her film after they chatted. Another fave moment: Brett McKenzie (one half of Flight of the Conchords) winning for Best Original Song and remarking on how much easier it was going to be writing songs with fellow Conchord Jermaine Clement. If they disagree while writing, he'll "just pull out the Oscar."
I ran into Natalie Portman again on our way up to the Governor's Ball. I remember last year talking to the Oscar winner (Black Swan) and noticing that she must have used a teeth-whitening strip that only hit her front teeth and not the rest. This year? Pearly whites. She and her fella were all smiles walking past the party of security guards (well, minus the ones that led Sean Young away in handcuffs) on their way into the festivities. As they arrived, the Spielbergs were leaving. I grabbed a perch up front by singer Pharrell Williams. He waited eagerly by the door, phone in hand like a fan, looky-looing as the movie star crush commenced. Coming in, someone stepped hard on Melissa McCarthy's dress, but no damage was done. She laughed it off and made her way to her banquet. I made it to the corner with Rooney Mara and Gary Oldman. Seemed like a good mix.
About 10:30 p.m, James Earl Jones jumped up on the sparkly stage in the middle of the room to introduce Tony Bennett. "Thank you very much for inviting me here tonight," Bennett said before belted out a handful of tunes. My fave was from Cabaret, "Maybe This Time." After he sang, he sat back down at his table for a bite. 85-years-old and dinner at 11 p.m.—that's rock n' roll. Lots of passed Wolfgang Puck nibbles got around—Short ribs, mac and cheese, potato knish, and tuna tartare—not to mention the two dessert bars (I picked the wrong year to give up chocolate for Lent). Next to the chocolate fountain was the Oscar engraving station. It's another good spot to perch. I spied Meryl Streep's gold dress making its way back there so I went as well. She plunked down at the bar with her champers to get her name permanently on her prize only to be joined by fellow winner Octavia Spencer. They giggled, giggled some more, and then hugged. Soon, Best Director winner Michel Hazanavicius angled up behind them. Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin smiled his way through the crowd and echoed his sentiments onstage, "I love your country!" When I left, about a dozen French folks had locked arms and were singing at the top of their lungs in happiness.
Photographs courtesy Todd Wawrychuk, Matt Petit, and Darren Decker / A.M.P.A.S.