The 82nd Annual Academy Awards Nominees Lunch – We Are Movie Geeks

Academy Awards

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards Nominees Lunch

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It’s  a great time to be an Oscar fan. Another olive branch was extended to the public and for the first time we were  all treated to the 82nd Annual Academy Awards Nominee Lunch which was shown LIVE earlier today from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. As you can see up above, 120 Nominees were present at the celebration.

It all began with a Q & A of the nominees in a press room type set-up. First was PRECIOUS Best Actress Nominee, Gabourey Sidibe, who greeted the crowd by saying, “STAND WHEN YOU CLAP FOR ME”. How funny. She  went on to say, with a giggle, that this year’s Oscar co-host, Steve Martin, was the one person she wanted to meet. She and her Mom are huge fans of THE JERK.

Photo: Reuters

Best Actress Nominee, and current front-runner, Sandra Bullock followed, looking very relaxed in a fitted Vivienne Westwood suit. She even joked about it, wondering if  it made her hips look small.  Always the comedienne, Bullock approached the podium and the Q & A as the President and said she  never expected a Best Actress  nomination, but was wary of  a BLIND SIDE backlash. She said, “I’m very amazed and thankful to be here.”  and  “I have an obligation to go forward with better work.” She even admitted to doing crappy work for money. Nooooooo, ALL ABOUT STEVE anyone? She definitely became a football fan after working on THE BLINDSIDE.

Photo: Reuters

Best Director Nominee Lee Daniels spoke next on why he cast Gabourey Sidibe in PRECIOUS and how she “floored me…this girl from the valley” at the audition. He called all the girls in the classroom in the film as “Badass”….Love him!  On  being nominated as the 2nd African-American director, he said of others  “that there’s a chance, that the Academy is wise…its monumental and I’m over the moon about this.”

Best Supporting Actress Nominee Vera Farmiga, looking absolutely gorgeous, started with “Its a Good Day” and spoke a little about the difference now  in being a nominee. She also mentioned the possible upcoming Madonna film, the Edward VIII/Wallis Simpson biopic, “W.E.,” was enthused by the subject material, and hoped to get the film financed. Farmiga said of the whole Awards Season experience that she’s stays grounded and “present” by running after a toddler.

Photo: Reuters

Best Supporting Nominee Woody Harrelson was up next. When asked if his views on the military had changed after shooting THE MESSENGER, he said “I’ve spent alot of  time with members of the Army. They’re amazing and the bright lights of people I’ve met…I’m knocked out by those in the military, hold them in high regard, with a lot of respect.” To get prepared for his role, he said he’d go out jogging to get into the mind set of his character Captain Tony Snow. He mentioned, to the delight of the press, that his new movie DEFENDOR, where he plays superhero Alex Poppington, was coming out soon. On the Oscar show itself, he said he’s  just viewing March 7th as a big party.

Photo: Associated Press

Sporting blonde locks, AN EDUCATION Best Actress Nominee Carey Mullligan said  that this Awards Season’s circuit “was surreal and wild and a work in progress, like my hair”. She remarked how she bumped “asses” with Quentin Tarantino too. Her upcoming projects are WALL STREET 2 and NEVER LET ME GO, but nothing after that. Wisely, she’s made sure to follow Kathryn Bigelow around alot, lots of texting with Gabourey Sidibe, and helped along by Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep. Mulligan also learned, apparently the hard way, “Don’t drink at Awards Ceremonies.”

Photo: Reuters

CRAZY HEART Best Actor Nominee Jeff Bridges was up next and was very surprised by the huge fuss over the Nominees lunch to which he said “play it as it lays.” In preparing for the role of   Bad Blake, “I had a lot of help….from the director Scott Cooper, Maggie Gyllehaal, T-Bone Burnett…did very little on my own.” When asked how he made him so likeable, “I didn’t set out to make him likeable…I just followed the script I was given.” As far as singing and the music  in the film goes, it  sounded like he had great fun playing with T-Bone Burnett. Bridges talked a little about  his  appearance in the new  We Are The World video, the upcoming remake of the Coen Brothers film TRUE GRIT, and was watching some of the Olympics.

THE HURT LOCKER Best Director Nominee Kathryn Bigelow, always classy and eloquent,  began by asking the press, “How are you guys?” She said THE HURT LOCKER  “tends to put a magnifying  lens on a very difficult situation…its more timely, has  put a  geo-political spotlight on this film and a glimpse into this conflict. Its touched a nerve.” Apparently she’s been following Mulligan around too during this Awards Season. I think those two need to get together for a film. Bigelow spoke highly of the Renner and the others. “The actors made it magical in a profound way and it became more perfectly realized”

Best Actor Nominee Jeremy Renner said of his role in  THE HURT LOCKER,  “the military is my touchstone. This experience for me…I walk up to every military person, shake their hands and thank them for their service.” He’d prefer not to have a scene at the Oscar show, but if he had to choose one, ”  it would be the suicide bombing scene  because it puts a face on the war.” Renner was genuinely awed and humbled when asked by a service member  if  he knew that military personnel use the film for escapism and said  he’s going in September on an USO tour. He also knew the part was the role of a lifetime  and script was great, but never expected to standing as an oscar nominee. “My life will forever be changed by it.”

Christoph Waltz, frontrunner Best Supporting Actor for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS said of his new found fame,  “I’m totally Americanized now.” After a loud rumbling started from the other room, Waltz belted out to the directors,”Quiet It Down!!” Like the other nominees, he just wanted to meet everybody at the luncheon. On knowing many languages and their usefulness,”It comes in handy when you travel, trying to seduce someone, so why should it not come in handy for a movie.” He hilariously answered in German and English on what it was like working with Tarantino, “it was the most artisitic moment of his life meeting the man and the director…I dont know where things would have been if I hadn’t met him.” On the evil role of  Col. Hans Landa, “It all on the page, its all in the poetry….he’s (Tarantino)  writing dramatic poetry”

Photo: Reuters

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Best Supporting Actress for A CRAZY HEART told the press that after learning of her nomination, her brother, actor Jake Gyllenhaal told her to  “enjoy it in that spirit and not to make it too much more than that.” Good advice. She and Jeff Bridges, “had an openness and a love to bring out the best in each other while shooting the film.”

Photo: Reuters

Another newcomer to the yearly lunch, Best Actor Nominee for A SINGLE MAN Colin Firth, dashingly strode up for his turn at the podium. On his nomination, he said, “I have no idea how I feel…talking yourself into circles..I’m sure I’m ecstatic and will have a flashback in six weeks time.” On getting advice from other actor nominees, “you never get used to it and its the first time and its all good…a perpetual daze.” He dryly commented that he hoped A SINGLE MAN,  “would be one big style, fashion fest…21 days where he could get great suits from it.”  Firth found it invigorating that the director Tom Ford was going out on a limb by choosing him…”It was irresistable to my vanity.” On giving advice to young actors, he said  “Its a constant struggle, not get bogged down on negative comments and you have to truimph over that.” I can’t wait  to see what he does with the role of George VI in Tom Hooper’s THE KING’S SPEECH.

AMPAS president Tom Sherak was up next for some opening remarks after the Q & A with the nominees. Ever the showman, Sherak was there to sell the Oscars to the internet audience. “The Academy Awards are a phenomenon and its for everyone who loves movies….Its more lively and interesting than its been in awhile.” The seating plan at the lunch  was to make everyone equal….”Oscars ultimate mixer and we find that it works magic.” Sounds like the school cafeteria. Sherak told anyone with complaints to contact his predecessor, Sid Ganis. His whole speech was one big commercial for the Academy Awards show. Like the principal of a school, he reminded  his nominees/kids to come to the Governor’s Ball and that this year  they’d have the nameplates preprinted for the Oscar statuettes to be attached. “Non-winners can not get their engraved plates.”

Going old school, the 2009 Nominees Class Picture was taken and in a move that Hans Zimmer probably loved, the Nominees Certificates were handed out  to “the students” in reverse alphabetical order. It was interesting to hear who received the loudest cheers as the recipient’s names were announced. Bullock, Streep, Mulligan, Bridges, Firth, Harrelson, Gyllenhaal, Tarantino, and Bigelow seemed to garner the most. After a brief lunch, Sherak introduced this year’s Oscar producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman. They told all the nominees  at the lunch  that there are 24 awards and 24 acceptance speeches and  in an attempt to shorten them (and the show), there will be 2 speeches…a thank you cam where  they can thank everyone and  a second one for up on the stage where after :45 seconds, the winner will get the hook. Shankman and Mechanic even provided video  clips  with examples of what to do and what not to do. Man these two are determined to race through the show and I felt  their speech  to be a little condescending at times.  Some “we’re in charge”  final details from the producers…only one person  will be allowed  to speak if its a group win. After the representative of the group delivers the speech, the mic will be cut. Wonder how all their instructions went over in the room. They concluded the lesson with a preview of how this year’s Oscar show will begin with a “What the Awards  mean to me” film.

watch the replay:

For more on the 82nd Academy Awards and a “Look at the Oscars” on February 26th, visit

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center ®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

Thanks to Awards Daily for the pictures!

Huge passion for film scores, lives for the Academy Awards, loves movie trailers. That is all.