It was like old times at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Monday, as the Oscar nominees’ luncheon returned to the same room it had been held in for decades after its 1980s debut. There were actors seated at alongside sound mixers and directors with production designers, a record 182 nominees taking their seats at tables spread across three levels of the hotel’s ballroom and a “class photo” commemorating the event.

There were stars galore among the attendees, from Cate Blanchett to Ke Huy Quan, Paul Mescal to Bill Nighy, Brian Tyree Henry to Kerry Condon to the biggest movie star of them all, Tom Cruise, who was in the room no not as an acting contestant but as the Oscar-nominated producer of “Top Gun: Maverick.” And all managed to fit on the large tiered riser for photography which serves as the most remarkable memento of the event.

Suffice to say that the afternoon was filled with everything that had been missing for a few years.

Last year, on the other hand, brought an interim nominees luncheon, held for the first time in a larger room at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, with COVID testing for everyone in attendance and larger groups. small and socially distant instead of the big class photo.

The previous year, the event had been completely canceled due to the pandemic.

And in 2020, the lunch had been moved to the equally expansive Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood and Highland Center, as the accelerated Oscars schedule meant it was less than two weeks before this year’s Oscars ceremony- there. The Academy didn’t want the show’s executives to have to drive across town when they were already in full prep at the Dolby Theater.

Monday’s event was therefore a welcome throwback for those who remember what the Oscar nominees’ lunch was like – which didn’t include most of the acting nominees in attendance, since the crop of nominees from that year consists of 16 debutants and only four former nominees. , with Cate Blanchett being the only former winner.

“It’s hard to get used to the idea,” said first-time contestant Austin Butler. “These are all my favorite filmmakers, actors, and people that I’ve looked up to, admired, and studied for years, and suddenly I’m in this room with them.”

The venue quickly reached critical mass on Monday, with people’s crushes shifting depending on where the fixture was. Jamie Lee Curtis spoke to Cruise and the photographers immediately surrounded them. Steven Spielberg, one of the few to wear a mask, hugged his ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ star Ke Huy Quan, and the lenses pointed at their director. Cruise met Butler, and the room pretty much fell apart: Gawkers stepped back as if to give them space, while a ring of cameras circled the pair to document each hug and each smile.

Cruise was clearly the center of gravity in the room, which is unusual for a nominees luncheon that also includes Spielberg. At one point, a woman on the outskirts of the crowd surrounding the “Top Gun” poster laughed and said to a friend, “Let’s face it, we’re all at Tom Cruise’s wedding.”

But it was a marriage without vows, a celebration of 15 dozen film professionals and their guests, as well as numerous Academy officials. AMPAS President Janet Yang was the only one from the latter camp who got to speak: where previous lunches had seen the Oscar show’s producers tell nominees to please keep their speeches short if they won, Yang handled that chore quickly this year, giving the group a 45-second limit on speeches and adding that each category would be featured live during the telecast, “so we need you to work with us.”

It fell to Academy Governor DeVon Franklin to read the list of names of the 182 nominees in the room, which included all the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress nominees, all the Best Actor nominees in a supporting role except Barry Keoghan and all Best Actress nominees except Andrea Riseborough. and Ana de Armas. The call started with Jamie Lee Curtis and ended with Guillermo del Toro, with plenty of applause for the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” contingent, especially Michelle Yeoh, but few clear winners in the ever-suspect Nominees. Luncheon Applause Meter.

Interesting secondary lighting: Cruise was one of the last nominees to be called to the stage – and despite his status as the clear star of the venue, the acceptable round of applause he received wasn’t even as loud as the hand of cinematographer Roger Deakins, who followed him. .

After the class photo, the room quickly divided into a crowded group of societies of mutual admiration: Sarah Polley and Michelle Williams here, Ke Huy Quan and Hong Chau there. Guillermo del Toro gushed to Charlie Mackesy, the author of the book “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” and the nominated director of its animated short adaptation. “Your movie was amazing,” del Toro said. “I’m a filmmaker – when someone shows me a film, it’s hard to surprise me. Your film surprised me.

Not far from there, 84-year-old Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski took over TheWrap. “My favorite directors are Steven Spielberg and Guillermo,” said the legendary director, whose “EO” is one of the boldest films in this year’s Oscar race. “I would love a photo with them. Can you set that up?”

For the record, we tried – but Spielberg was already gone and del Toro was heading for the exit with a “Time for me to get out of Dodge” goodbye. Even at an Oscar nominee luncheon that was back in its old stomping ground, not all dreams can come true.

Here is the class photo from the Oscars 2023:

The nominees for the 95th Academy Awards® at a luncheon held at the Beverly Hilton, Monday, February 13, 2023.