Inside the 2023 Oscar nominees luncheon

Paul Mescal chatted with Jenny Slate. Cate Blanchett tucked into her salad beside Tony Kushner. Tom Cruise gave Steven Spielberg a bear hug and congratulated the filmmaker, with whom he labored on “Minority Report” and “War of the Worlds,” on his newest movie, “The Fabelmans” —“Beautiful stuff,” Cruise stated, beaming. “Beautiful stuff.”

In all, greater than 180 of this yr’s Oscar contenders gathered on Monday afternoon on the annual nominees luncheon to have fun their achievements — and pose collectively for Hollywood’s most illustrious class picture.

With the Academy Awards on March 12 just one month away, the gathering on the Beverly Hilton — the one Oscar-season cease at which a majority of the nominees are literally in the identical room previous to the awards themselves — supplied the prospect to combine and mingle for individuals who would possibly in any other case by no means cross paths.

Brendan Fraser and Malala Yousafzai.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

While the environment on the luncheon, an academy custom relationship again to the early Eighties, was convivial and joyful, solely 20% or so of the attendees will really emerge victorious when Oscar season reaches its climax.

Film composer Carter Burwell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), a nominee for the third time, wryly acknowledged the background hum of competitors. “We should have a tug-of-war between the ‘Banshees’ crew and the ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ folks,” Burwell joked. “With Brendan Gleeson, I think we could take them.”

Taking the stage to welcome the nominees, Academy President Janet Yang tried to handle any lingering misgivings about final yr’s Oscars telecast, which was upended when Will Smith struck Chris Rock over a joke about his spouse, Jada Pinkett Smith.

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“What happened onstage was wholly unacceptable, and the response from our organization was inadequate,” Yang stated. “We learned from this that the academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions. And particularly in times of crisis, we must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward.”

A woman in the shadows next to a smiling older man and a beaming young man.

Tia Carrere, left (in shadow), Steven Spielberg and Ke Huy Quan.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Turning to the upcoming ceremony, Yang drew applause from the group when she famous that, after final yr’s controversial determination to shift eight below-the-line and short-film classes out of the dwell telecast, all awards will as soon as once more be handed out on air.

That stated, with the Oscar producers going through continued strain to trim down the usually bloated present, Yang stated the nominees bear their very own duty to assist maintain issues transferring at a energetic tempo. “If you win a coveted gold statue, your acceptance speech must be 45 seconds, tops,” Yang stated, asking the attendees to repeat the quantity to hammer dwelling the purpose.

Though the luncheon was celebratory, for the nominees it’s only one in what can seem to be an countless sequence of receptions, screenings, cocktail events, Q&As and trade schmooze-fests as Oscar season grinds on.

“I need some hand sanitizer,” songwriter Diane Warren, celebrating her 14th Oscar nod this yr for the music “Applause” from the movie “Tell It Like a Woman,” stated with a slight word of weariness. “I have shaken so many hands.”

A smiling man with a woman by his side greets another man.

Brian Tyree Henry.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Two gray-haired men talk as another man looks on.

Martin McDonagh, left, and Roger Deakins.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

One man in a suit speaks into the ear of another man in a suit.

Austin Butler, left, and Tom Cruise.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A blond woman stands behind a brunette woman as they pose for a selfie.

Marlee Matlin, left, and Diane Warren.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A crowd of people at an event.

Tom Cruise within the heart of the group.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A man embraces the shoulders of an older man.

Ke Huy Quan, left, and Judd Hirsch.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Two men hugging.

Tom Cruise and Guillermo del Toro hug.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A smiling man in a gray suit.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A woman pats a passing young man on his arm.

Paul Mescal and Michelle Yeoh.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Three men in dark suits and a woman in a white sleeveless top.

Colin Farrell, left, Kerry Condon, Martin McDonagh and Brendan Gleeson.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A man clasps a woman's hand and rests his other hand on her shoulder. Both smile broadly.

Tom Cruise and Jamie Lee Curtis.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Stephanie Hsu attends the 95th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon.

Stephanie Hsu.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)