The Hollywood awards season has now been in full swing for what feels like longer than the 2016 election, though hopefully it will have happier results for the parties involved.
On Sunday, the Golden Globes, the first big awards show of the year, kicks things off at a ceremony that’s seen as an accurate prognosticator not just of fortunes at the Academy Awards, but of the coveted nominations that are typically announced later in January. This year, that’s especially true because voting for Academy members began on Thursday.
It was, then, an opportune day to convene some of the year's best actors and actresses at a gathering that’s become the unofficial start of Globes weekend over the last seven years, W magazine’s annual blowout at the Chateau Marmont.
André Balazs’s penthouse was brimming with the actors featured on the magazine’s latest covers, which feature its chosen Best Performances of the year, a portfolio conceived by editor at large and writer Lynn Hirschberg. There was Emma Stone and Natalie Portman and Amy Adams, all gazing up at their faces on the covers that had been blown up all over the room.
Adams, by now, has become a veteran of the awards circuit, a five-time Oscars nominee who has learned to take it all in stride.
“I’m a mom. If you have a kid, you can’t call this [process] exhausting because it doesn’t matter when the party ends, she still wakes up at six in the morning,” she said.
This year, the actress has two films in awards contention, Nocturnal Animals and Arrival, but it was the latter role, as a heroic linguist interpreting betweens aliens and humans, that won her another Globe nomination, her seventh.
“I arm-wrestled myself and I won,” she cracked.
For this high-wattage room, on this night, it was a time of mutual appreciation, of reflecting on some of the best acting turns of the year before getting back to the business of campaigning for those all-important gold statuettes. Voting for the Oscars officially closes the Friday after the Globes are handed out.
Adams, for instance, was full of praise for Millie Bobby Brown, the breakout young actress in the Globe nominated series Stranger Things, who happened to be within sight.
“We go way back,” an already blasé Brown said referring to Adams. For her part, the upstart said Stone had delivered her favorite performance of the year in La La Land. “She’s so inspirational,” she said. Informed that the actress was in the house, Brown was suddenly less sure-footed.
“Is she here?” she asked incredulously. “No! Shut up! Im going to die!”
Stone–ensconced in a corner as the Audi and Moët-sponsored party overflowed with the likes of Tom Ford, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Isabelle Huppert, Rami Malek, James Corden, and Tracee Ellis-Ross–directed her hosannas toward a couple of actors who are new to the scene, Mahershala Ali, who’s up for a Globe in Moonlight, and Lucas Hedges, who plays Casey Affleck’s nephew in Manchester by the Sea.
“Lucas is so raw and vulnerable and beautiful and Mahershala is so transformative and devastating, so I gotta say it’s equal footing,” Stone said.
Jill Soloway, whose Transparent is again up again for an award, remarked on Ali’s versatility. “Everybody likes that combination of toughness and softness,” she said. “He’s a flawed hero.”
Kenneth Lonergan’s New England drama was a darling of the room. Joel Edgerton, a nominee for Loving, singled out a pivotal scene featuring Affleck at a police station.
“You don’t see it coming but when it does, you understand why it belongs there. It’s such a perfect moment by a wonderful actor,” Edgerton said. “And it’s the perfect combination of the right actor for the right role written by an excellent writer."
Edgerton’s costar Ruth Negga favored Portman, with whom she shares an embrace in W’s February cover–“Natalie and me met three or four minutes minutes before that photo. Instant chemistry, obviously,” she said– and Annette Bening in Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women. “As actresses, they commit so fully to their roles that it’s like watching true artists at work,” Negga continued.
There was a lot of love for Portman’s evocative performance in Jackie, partly because of the high risks of Pablo Larraín’s unique handling of Jacqueline Kennedy’s story and because Americans have such a defined idea of the character.
“It’s all her,” Adams said of Portman. “It’s such a close-up and it’s so revealing and that [Kennedy] is so well known adds its own separate set of expectations.”
By around 10 p.m., the party was in full swing, with Viggo Mortensen, Chloë Sevigny, Russell Simmons, Christopher Kane and Julie Delpy all making the rounds. Evan Rachel Wood, nominated for Westworld, was raving about the her costars Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright, when it struck her that this was a world removed from the company of sci-fi fans she’s been keeping lately.
“I knew when I signed on that it was going to be an adjustment. I can definitely feel a shift in people and how they interact with me. I went to an arcade and I thought, if I’m going to be recognized anywhere, it’s going to be here. And it was true,” she said. “But those are my people because I consider myself a big nerd.”
Shortly thereafter, there was a ripple in the room’s magnetic energy. Barbra Streisand was in our midst.
It takes a lot to impress a crowd this unflappable and weary of celebrity, but if anyone can manage it, it’s Yentl herself. Even grown men like Chris Pine were giddy and ran over to get a selfie for the record books.
Watch video interviews with the 2017 Golden Globes nominees here: