On the day news broke about his new Whitey Bulger project with longtime collaborator Matt Damon, Ben Affleck pulled off his own disappearing act.
Looking unrecognizable in a Barry Gibb beard and hairstyle, an attendant at Monday night's Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton caught him at the entrance and said, "Right this way Mr. Bruckheimer." (Jerry Bruckheimer was also in the room.)
"I need to renegotiate my producing deal," Affleck quipped.
Certainly, if the Hollywood Film Awards is the megaphone through which the industry shouts awards-season hopes, Monday night's gala proved that there are a few stars who are already in late-season podium form.
Never mind Starz CEO Chris Albrecht's opening boast that previous Hollywood Film Awards galas have predicted 73 Oscar nominations and 23 wins. While the Beverly Hilton ballroom collectively chuckled at frequent jokes about the selection process, the best moments came from seasoned stars who spoke to the realities of their jobs and their projects.
"I want to thank the invisible committee for risking their reputation for giving me this," supporting actor winner Christopher Plummer cracked. Accepting at the top of the two-and-half-hour event, he added, "It's nice to get an award this early in the proceedings. It’s past my bed time."
Viola Davis, appearing with the ensemble of "The Help" went authentic. "You go on sets every day and people are arguing about their billing, and their trailers, the location and the shoot. This is the really rare moment where this cast is 99 percent women and we walked away just loving each other."
When George Clooney wasn't sitting at the very front table with date Stacy Keibler, he was backstage fixing "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius' tie and watching on a backstage monitor.
When Clooney took the stage himself, he focused on the evening's whipping boy: the grainy VHS-esque picture on a center projection screen. "(The screen) is killing 20-year-olds. I'm 50. This is bulls–t!" He then took a few steps back to speak from the back of the stage, out of view of the offending screen.
"As much as it pains me to say it, tonight is not about me," Ted Danson said to introduce his "Damages" co-star Glenn Close, who also appeared at TheWrap's screening series for "Albert Nobbs" Monday night.
Close also addressed image concerns in her multi-page speech and thanked all her directors of photography for "working their magic."
"People come up to me on the street who say, 'Oh, wow, you look so much better in life than you do in film.' I'm amazed they think that's a compliment," Close said.
Quentin Tarantino's black tie for the event was a black and white plaid shirt, while Jonah Hill's new low key persona rubbed off on his under-the-weather "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller ("Hollywood Director Award").
On the opposite end of the perk spectrum, Anne Hathaway picked up where last awards season left off. Her theatrical monologue chided the Hollywood Film Awards for giving Joseph Gordon-Levitt a "breakthrough" award way after "Inception," "Hesher" and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" made their runs.
Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor, Carey Mulligan, Christophe Waltz, Diablo Cody, Owen Wilson, Elle Fanning, Ray Liotta, Emma Stone, Gore Verbinski, and the buzz-heavy "Like Crazy" trio of director Drake Doremus, Felicity Jones, and Anton Yelchin were amongst the heavy artillery at the awards season sneak preview.