On the night before the 88th Academy Awards, Hollywood was in a jubilant mood. All over Los Angeles, the industry was celebrating its own little victories - Leonardo DiCaprio's seemingly all but awarded Oscar for The Revenant, for instance, or the unlikely rise of Spotlight as an awards juggernaut. But perhaps the biggest reason to party at all was the end of the long, exhaustingly drawn out awards season. Finally, here we were at the finish line. At last.
In Beverly Hills, DiCaprio entered the Giorgio Armani store like the MVP in a room already full of VIPs - Two-time Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz, Tobey Maguire, 2016 nominee Charlotte Rampling, Lauren Hutton, Tim Robbins, Naomi Campbell, Bruce Weber and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway. After five previous Oscar nominations, everybody knows this is DiCaprio's year to finally bag his own.
“It's the best accessory ever,” said a very pregnant Hathaway referring not to her own Academy Award, but her very pregnant belly.
Those who were able to get close to DiCaprio took turns sharing their praise, as the actor shook hands and posed for photographs. Wherever he went, a crowd gathered, and when he used a closed off side door to make his way to the upper level of the Armani store, the entire party took notice and followed.
Seventeen-year-old Forrest Goodluck, who played DiCaprio's son in the film, watched from the side.
“He’s a movie star, but he doesn’t give off that vibe,” said the young actor. “We were in a boat together one day both floating down a river, and he turns to me between scenes, and he says, ‘Look, you’re never going to do another film like this ever again – I’ve never done a film like this’, and it was just such a humbling statement.”
Soon, DiCaprio disappeared again – this time for good – and the room dispersed along with him.
Not too far from there, Charles Finch and Chanel were throwing their annual pre-Oscars dinner at Madeo. If the French label's party earlier this week was for young Hollywood, this one was strictly for its royalty - Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, Joan Collins, Kristen Stewart, Rooney Mara, Eddie Redmayne, Dree Hemingway, and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, David O'Russell, Julie Delpy and Oliver Stone. A mariachi band provided plenty of Instagram fodder for the likes of Stewart and Moore, who posed for pictures alongside the musicians. Even Bret Easton Ellis turned up.
Two hours earlier across town in Santa Monica, the hardest working folks in town toasted each other: the independent filmmakers! Dedicated to independent filmmaking, the Spirit Awards has been celebrated for its diversity this year – a striking contrast to the controversy surrounding the Oscars. The big winner of the night was Spotlight, which took five awards, including the top prize. Season favorite Brie Larson won Best Female Lead for Room, while Abraham Attah won Best Male Lead for Beasts Of No Nation; Best Supporting Male went to Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation and Best Supporting Female went to Mya Taylor for Tangerine.
The hosts of the ceremony, Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon and Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani were winding down post-show at the IFC Films and Sundance Selects after party.
“I was a little nervous, because I had never done anything like this,” said Nanjiani – taco in hand – of how he felt going into the award ceremony. “You’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off, so there’s not really time to process anything, but I just really loved working with Kate, so that was super fun.”
Making an appearance at the party were Juno Temple, Luke Wilson, James White actor Christopher Abbott, Anomalisa directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson and The Diary of a Teenage Girl producers Madeline Shapiro and Michael Sagol, who were still on a high from their win for Best First Feature.
“I wish I could take the award around with me all week, so it can get me into parties,” Sagol said. “In all seriousness, with the whole #OscarsSoWhite thing happening, I really like what we stood for, and for Tangerine to win something tonight, I feel like we’re kind of part of history.”