For those not invited to this year's Academy Awards, the second-best option might have been the viewing party and dinner hosted by Vanity Fair.
At 4:30pm Sunday, about 120 of Hollywood's chosen began arriving at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills. Early guests included Sarah Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch, the billionaire scions; and Donald and Steve Newhouse, of the family that owns Vanity Fair's publisher, Condé Nast.
Everybody had to pass through airport-style metal detectors before walking the red carpet. "That's my underwire," said Katie Couric, who was pulled aside after setting off the alarm.
Inside a custom-built tent with olive trees and upholstered benches, Radhika Jones, the editor of Vanity Fair, wore a dusty rose Christian Dior gown accented with a diamond Cartier necklace and earrings. "I have one glass of Champagne at the beginning of the evening, and then I pace myself, because it's going to be a long night," she said.
• The Oscars: As it happened - Taika Waititi wins Academy Award, Parasite wins Best Picture
• Oscars 2020: The most unworthy winners in history
• Oscars 2020: The most incredible looks of all time
• Oscars: Not even winning Taika Waititi could withstand Academy Awards' shock twist
Does she enjoy the party? "It's full of interesting people, and everybody wants to celebrate, and that's a good mood," she said.
As the 5pm dinner hour approached, the room filled with guests including Ryan Murphy, Patricia Clarkson, Jeremy O. Harris and Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles. Elizabeth Banks embraced Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor in front of the bar, which was serving Oscar-themed cocktails like "the Bombshell," named after the film about sexual harassment at Fox News. (Murdoch, who is the chief executive of the Fox Corp., did not order one.)
Guests took their seats in a circular dining room as the telecast began. Their places were marked with name cards alongside miniature Oscars, and appetisers laid out by Frenchette, which catered the meal of sea bass and roast chicken.
Tom Ford sat next to Joan Collins at one table, as Olivia Wilde greeted Michael Keaton at another; and Jeff Goldblum chatted with John McEnroe and Ron Howard. There was a loud cheer when Brad Pitt won the first award of the night, for best supporting actor. "Stuck the landing," John Hamm said approvingly, after Pitt's acceptance speech.
Gabrielle Union, who attended with Dwyane Wade, her husband, high-fived Ava DuVernay when Hair Love won for best animated short film.
As waiters in chambray shirts ferried carafes of wine, Jones said she had worked to make the party more diverse. "It's something that's important to me because I think part of our job at Vanity Fair is to lead and reflect the culture," she said. "We are lucky to be living in a moment where some of those tents are getting a little wider."
Champagne at the Governors Ball
At the Oscars ceremony, crowd members made their way to the Governors Ball, the official after-party, moments after Parasite was crowned best picture.
A seemingly endless string of escalators is the only way to access the ball, where hungry celebrities finally find true sustenance and the winners get their Oscar statuettes engraved with their names. Everyone has to take the escalators, which course through the Hollywood Highland shopping mall, from lowly journalists to Jeff Bezos himself.
"Kill me," said Blair Rich, the marketing chief of Warner Bros., as she gathered up her train yet again.
Once inside the opulent ballroom, which was anchored by a massive floating chandelier that featured some 2,000 tubes of light constructed from recycled material, guests munched on a primarily plant-based menu — a delight to Joaquin Phoenix, the vegan best actor winner, who was seen planting a big kiss on Todd Philips, the director of Joker, before heading over to the engraving room.
That room, once open to all guests of the ball, is now limited to winners and their dates. They walk in. They walk out. They show off their names to their immediate circle.
Renée Zellweger, the best actress winner for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy, danced her way out of the room. She headed to her table where she continued the theme of her acceptance speech, lavishing thanks on all those who helped turn her performance into a win.
Nearby, Brad Pitt sipped on a soda, mugged for eager onlookers, then grabbed his trophy and sneaked out the side door before anyone could get another word out of him.
But the attention was on Parasite, the South Korean film that made history as the first foreign language movie to ever land the best picture prize. The cast table was hopping.
While they waited for Bong Joon Ho, the director, to return from the backstage press room, the producers greeted well-wishers, toasted each other with Champagne and even spilled a number of drinks on the silver lamé tablecloth in their reverie.
Among the cast, though, the night's outcome felt like a fait accompli. "When Bong got the director prize, Kang-ho was sitting next to me and he said, 'I have a bad feeling, he's going to get the best picture," Miky Lee, the film's executive producer, said with a laugh. "'How do you know?' I asked him. " 'Being around this award season a long time, I know what's going to happen.' "
In that moment, David Linde, the chief executive of Participant Media and the producer of last year's best picture nominee Roma, stopped by to congratulate Lee, the heiress turned media mogul who financed Parasite as vice chairman of the CJ Group, a South Korean conglomerate.
"It's about time," Linde said.
"It is about time," Lee said, nodding in agreement.
All roads to Vanity Fair
Back at the Vanity Fair dinner, the space was opened to several hundred guests who began arriving after the Oscars ceremony.
Early on, Marilyn Manson chatted with Joe Manganiello near the bar, Lena Waithe huddled with Sarah Silverman, and Arianna Huffington cruised the room, like an Uber looking for a fare. Waiters circulated with bottles of Dom Pérignon, before trays of In-N-Out burgers appeared around 10pm.
By 10:30, there was gridlock on the red carpet (which was, in fact, powder blue) as Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Sandra Oh and Rebel Wilson waited to pose for photographers. Beck cut the line, while Robert De Niro briskly walked in to join Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino, his co-star in The Irishman, at the party.
Inside, Catherine O'Hara and Tom Ford danced to Rock the Boat, while Keegan-Michael Key chatted with Adam Driver. Jeff Bezos waited at the bar, near Jeremy Renner, Demi Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sigourney Weaver and Scarlett Johansson.
Elsewhere in the room, Oscar winners from previous years including Adrien Brody, Anna Paquin, Reese Witherspoon and Marisa Tomei mingled with younger talent like Florence Pugh, Miles Teller and Timothée Chalamet. Charlize Theron looked statuesque in a form-fitting gold dress, while Billie Eilish kept her dark glasses on as she moved among smokers and other cool kids in the garden.
As the evening wore on, Nicky Hilton Rothchild helped herself to a passing burger, as did Pedro Almodóvar and Noah Baumbach. Greta Gerwig managed to eat one while dancing.
Phoenix arrived just after midnight. He came without his statue or an entourage, accompanied only by Rooney Mara, his partner. When a waiter offered him a hamburger, he held up a sign (which he happened to be carrying) that read: "Choose vegan. It isn't a fad, it's the future!" They both laughed.
Other newly crowned winners included Laura Dern, Taika Waititi and Pitt, who reunited with his Thelma and Louise co-star Geena Davis.
Bong, who won best director, best screenplay and best picture for Parasite, seemed like he might be the last one down the emptied-out carpet at 12:30am. But just after 1, Zellweger arrived, clutching her best actress trophy. She lingered for about 30 minutes, greeting well-wishers among the few dozen remaining guests, who seemed intent on staying until the very last of the hamburgers were served.
Written by: Ben Widdicombe and Nicole Sperling
Photographs by: Michelle Groskopf and Calla Kessler
© 2020 THE NEW YORK TIMES