The Party Report: Tom Cruise Does Lunch With 181 Fellow Oscar Nominees

Plus: Brie Larson Loves Super Nintendo World, nepo babies take over New York Fashion Week, ‘The Consultant’ premieres and more

(Left) Brie Larson (aka Captain Marvel) attends the SUPER NINTENDO WORLD Grand Opening; (Right) Tom Cruise and Michelle Yeoh at the Annual Oscars Nominees Luncheon.

Tom Cruise turned up to start his campaign for Oscar gold for “Top Gun: Maverick,” while Academy Award acting frontrunners stepped up their pace by attending events from L.A. to Santa Barbara and beyond in this week’s look at the most interesting parties and premieres — and fashion shows, too.

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Annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon

The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills

Austin Butler and Tom Cruise at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon
Austin Butler and Tom Cruise meet up at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. (Getty Images)

It felt like old times at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, as the Annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon returned to the same room where it took place for decades after its beginnings in the 1980s. There were actors sitting next to sound mixers and directors with production designers, a record 182 nominees taking their seats in tables across three levels of the hotel’s ballroom and a “class photo” memorializing the event.

The attendees ranged from Cate Blanchett to Ke Huy Quan, Paul Mescal to Bill Nighy, Brian Tyree Henry to Kerry Condon to the biggest movie star of all, Tom Cruise, who was in the room not as an acting nominee but as the Oscar-nominated producer of “Top Gun: Maverick.” And all of them managed to fit onto the big, multilevel riser for the photograph that serves as the event’s most notable souvenir.

In other words, the afternoon was full of everything that has been missing for a few years.

These are all the nominees for the 95th Oscars who were celebrated at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. (AMPAS)

“It’s hard to wrap my mind around it,” first-time nominee Austin Butler said. “These are all my favorite filmmakers and actors and people I’ve looked up to and admired and studied for years, and suddenly I’m in this room with them.”

The room reached critical mass quickly on Monday, with the crush of people moving depending on what luminary was where. Jamie Lee Curtis talked to Cruise, and photographers surrounded them immediately. Steven Spielberg, one of the few to wear a mask, hugged his “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” star Ke Huy Quan, and lenses pointed in their direction. Cruise met Butler and the room pretty much had a meltdown: Gawkers backed up as if to give them room, while a ring of cameras encircled the pair to document every embrace and grin.

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 Supporting Actor nominees except Barry Keoghan and all the Best Actress contenders except Andrea Riseborough and Ana de Armas. The roll call began with Jamie Lee Curtis and ended with Guillermo del Toro, with lots of applause for the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” contingent, particularly Michelle Yeoh, but there were few clear winners in the always-suspect Nominees Luncheon Applause Meter.

One interesting sidelight: Cruise was one of the last nominees called to the stage — and despite his status as the room’s clear star, the acceptable round of applause he got wasn’t even as loud as the hand for cinematographer Roger Deakins, who followed him. — Steve Pond

(Left to Right) Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” enjoy being nominees at the 95th Annual Oscars Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. (JC Olivera/Getty Images)

The 2023 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch

Casa del Mar Hotel, Santa Monica

(Left) Spirit Awards nominee Paul Mescal; and (Left to Right) producer Brenda Robinson and Spirit Awards noiminee Cate Blanchett attend the 2023 Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch in Santa Monica. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Champagne Fleur de Miraval)

It was a gorgeous, but slightly chilly day at the beach in Santa Monica when Film Independent had an early celebration of their 2023 Independent Spirit Awards (which actually happen on March 4) at the lovely Casa Del Mar Hotel.

The Spirit Awards celebrate independent productions, as Film Independent president Josh Walsh explained to the gathering, and they raised their Champagne Fleur de Miraval in a happy toast.

“The goal here today is very simple. It’s to come together to welcome all of the nominees for the 2023 Spirit Awards, to eat, drink, raise a glass to your accomplishments. And it is also a chance to welcome our community of friends and supporters, our circle members, everyone who’s part of the Film Independent family throughout the year,” he said.

Lots of nominees attended the brunch, which featured Casa del Mar’s always fantastic food, including classics like Eggs Benedict and French toast, topped off with a groaning dessert table. And while Brad Pitt wasn’t in the crowd to help pour his Miraval rosé and champagne, nominee Paul Mescal came early and stayed late. He’s also nominated for an Oscar for best actor in “Aftersun,” so who knows, there may be a French winery in his future, too.

Cate Blanchett was the most famous face in the ballroom, but if you blinked you missed her. She popped in, took some photos and off she went. That’s the life of an A-list Oscar nominee in the run up to the big day — flitting from one thing to another with barely a chance to grab a cookie on the way through!

The 13th Annual Lumiere Awards

Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills

(Left to Right) Jon Landau, Guillermo del Toro and Baz Luhrmann show off their Lumiere Awards trophy haul. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for The Advanced Imaging Society)

At the 13th Annual Lumiere Awards presented by the Advanced Imaging Society, the event honoring technical film magic maintained its recent smaller scale. The awards began as expansive affairs, with hundreds of guests, but during the height of COVID-19, it became a more intimate affair, as a luncheon held at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel.

Keeping that intimate feel was a perfect way to celebrate, with the event taking on the jovial atmosphere of good friends happily coming together. Buoyed by the impressive box office returns of honored movies like “Avatar: The Way of Water” (with producer Jon Landau in attendance), “Elvis” (Baz Luhrmann took home multiple awards, including the Harold Lloyd Award presented by his lip-curling star Austin Butler) and “Top Gun: Maverick” (legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer accepted two awards), it lived up to its reputation as “The Hollywood Geek Awards.” “Technical innovation allows us to amplify the stories,” Luhrmann said in his award thank you speech.

“Babylon” director Damien Chazelle, Gene Kelly Visionary Award winner, attends the 13th Annual Advanced Imaging Society’s Lumiere Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for The Advanced Imaging Society)

On the animated side of things, Guillermo del Toro accepted his award for best animated feature, while “Lightyear” co-writer/director Angus MacLane and cinematographer Ian Megibben were on hand to accept the award for that animated feature’s use of High Dynamic Range, a feature MacLane joked could only be experienced at a single location in Richmond, Texas. (He got a big laugh.) And Wētā FX took home the Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for “their unparalleled contributions to motion picture production,” proven once again in 2022 with their work in “The Batman” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Meanwhile, “Babylon” director Damien Chazelle took home the Gene Kelly Visionary Award for his body of work, presented by Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly.

It was a lively celebration of the unsung, technical aspects of films that turn what could just be average entertainment into big screen classics. – Drew Taylor

“The Consultant” Premiere

The Culver Theater and Amazon Studios, Culver City

(Left to Right) Stars Brittany O’Grady, Christoph Waltz, Nat Wolff and Aimee Carrero have fun at the Red Carpet Special Screening for the Prime Video series “The Consultant” in Culver City. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Prime Video)

Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz joined Amazon’s Prime Video to celebrate his creepily fascinating new streaming series “The Consultant,” which unspooled the first three episodes to a packed theater in Culver City, the home of Amazon Studios.

Waltz plays a mysterious consultant who joins CompWare, a game-creating software firm immediately after the owner is murdered; and very weird things ensue. “I’m having a really good time with this role,” Waltz told us with a huge grin at the after party held on the lot. “I hope you can see that!”

The party had a Mexican-food theme, one that centered around serving churros (watch the show to discover why) and cocktails that were only identified by their blue and pink hues (again, watch the show and remember in general that it’s a bad idea to drink free, unidentified candy-colored cocktails).

Waltz’s costars, including Nat Wolff, Aimee Carrero, Emily Barry and Brittany O’Grady, who paired her evening gown with crutches, all agreed that they, too, had a blast making the eight-episode series. O’Grady didn’t have quite so much fun on the slopes, however.

“I hurt my knee skiing,” she revealed with a grimace, “and it is killing me. I’m going to get an MRI soon, the doctor thinks I might have torn a ligament.”

That didn’t stop her from being one of the last stars at the post-party, proving to us all that she’s as resilient as her character in “The Consultant.”

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Tributes

The Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara

Brendan Fraser and Sarah Michelle Gellar enjoy being together at the American Riviera Award Ceremony during the 38th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. (Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival continued to unspool numerous films during the past week, as crowds gathered to enjoy the 38th edition of the popular fest. And true to form, the festival loves its tributes, holding one just about every night at the venerable Arlington Theatre in the heart of this beach community north of Hollywood.

Christopher Guest presents to his wife, Jamie Lee Curtis, the Modern Master Award during the 38th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara. (Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Every year, the SBIFF honorees are very familiar faces; and every year those chosen are usually contenders for winning their categories during the soon-to-be-decided Academy Awards (coming on March 12 this year). So Brendan Fraser, who is nominated for Best Actor for his work in “The Whale,” took home the American Riviera Award for his body of work, with a surprise guest turning up to present to him. Sarah Michelle Gellar happily gave her 2007 “The Air I Breathe” costar and longtime friend his prize, to the delight of the packed house.

Delight was evident, too, on another evening, as Jamie Lee Curtis accepted her Maltin Modern Master Award from her husband, fellow actor (and writer-director) Christopher Guest. Curtis is having a banner year, finally nominated for Oscar’s Best Supporting Actress after a career of stellar performances.

And Cate Blanchett turned up in Santa Barbara as well, to accept her Outstanding Performer of the Year Award, for her Academy Award nominated performance in “Tár.” She’s already got two Oscars (and a total of seven nominations), so she’s used to truly being in the spotlight in the run up to Oscar Sunday.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival concludes its celebrity-studded, 10-day run on Saturday.

Honoree Cate Blanchett speaks onstage at the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award Ceremony during the 38th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara. (Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)
fashion fetes

New York Fashion Week

Various Venues, New York City

Fashion designer Jonathan Simkhai dances with Naomi Biden at his post-runway show party in New York. (Sean Zanni Getty Images)

Famous females and political offspring dominated New York Fashion Week 2023, both on the catwalk and observing the runway shows. Take Naomi Biden, the granddaughter of President Joe Biden, who hit the dance floor with designer Jonathan Simkhai at the official after party of his couture show, one of many “Nepo babies” to join in the swirling fashion scene this week.

Earlier that evening, Simkhai debuted a new rebrand of his women’s luxury brand, showing his Fall 2023 collection, featuring model/actress Emily Ratajkowski. His after party was packed with VIP guests from drag sensation Xunami Muse to Tik Tok star Mary Leest, who were offered the night’s signature cocktail, “Jean’s Paloma,” sponsored by Casamigos Tequila and Jean’s NYC, where the bash went off.

Left to Right) Pamella Roland and Vanessa Williams; (Left to Right) Julianne Hough and Nicky Hilton attend the Pamella Roland AW23 Runway Show at Spring Studios in New York City. (Madison McGaw/

At the Pamella Rolland Autumn/Winter 2023 show, Julianne Hough and Nicky Hilton cheered the famed designer on from the front row, along with Vanessa Williams and “Gossip Girl” stars Savannah Lee Smith and Zion Moreno. Over at the Adeam show, Natasha Lyonne made the scene and wore designer Hanako Maeda’s designs in the process.

Back in the political realm, Ella Emhoff hosted the NYFW debut of her knitwear brand Ella Emhoff Likes to Knit. Emhoff, who is vice president Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter, put on the pop-up presentation at Spring Studios, showcasing her line, including bunny-eared bonnets, maxi dresses, chunky balaclavas and more — all of which were hand knitted by Emhoff in her Brooklyn apartment.

Ella Emhoff (Left) hosts as Natalia Bryant attends her “Ella Emhoff Likes to Knit” pop-up party during NYFW/The Shows 2023 at Spring Studios in New York City. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG Fashion)

“Even the ‘tini’s have bows!” cheered one of the guests, who pointed out the bow of yarn attached to every martini’s toothpick with olives. Throughout the evening, Ella sipped on Negronis and chatted with guests, including her fellow Nepo baby, model Natalia Bryant, who is the daughter of the late Kobe Bryant. — Emily Vogel and Jenny Peters

Super Nintendo World Red Carpet Celebration

Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City

Brie Larson attends the “Super Nintendo World” welcome celebration at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

The nostalgia came to life courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood’s latest attraction, Super Nintendo World, as Mario and his video game pals truly seem to come alive in their own universe.

Lots of special guests turned out (many with their kids) to try out this latest innovative “land” within the Universal Studios theme park, including Sam Richardson, Jaime Cavill and his kids, Jordin Sparks and her son, and Brie Larson (aka Captain Marvel), who snuck away from the Disney/Marvel stable for a night of celebration and fun (she is a Nintendo ambassador after all).

“Super Nintendo World” dancers get things going at the opening night party at Universal Studios Hollywood. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

The excited crowd flocked to “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge,” an interactive augmented reality ride that is sure to be a fan favorite. Super Nintendo World also features the Mushroom Kingdom, filled with interactive games and even Super Mario Bros. themed drinks. Getting an early look at this hot ticket new land meant everywhere we looked, there were more Hollywood stars and famed musicians, including Chris Pratt, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Hardwick, Anderson Paak, Chance The Rapper and the genius behind the whole thing, Nintendo game creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Everyone who loves Mario and friends can rejoice, too, as Super Nintendo World is now open to the public and found only at Universal Studios Hollywood. — Elijah Gil

Jordin Sparks is Mario-ready for the “Super Nintendo World” opening party at Universal Studios Hollywood. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Please send all party/event invitations to