A season ago, the Omicron wave of COVID forced the Academy’s Governors Awards to be postponed to the Friday before Oscars Sunday, outside of the pre-Oscar nomination period in which it is traditionally held, and virtually no one but the honorees and their table guests attended.
The ceremony that awards special Oscars returned to that window Saturday night for its 13th edition, and — surprise, surprise! — just about every single person praying to land a nomination found their way to the Fairmont Century Plaza ballroom — to celebrate tributes Michael J Fox, Diana Warren, Peter Weir and Euzhan Palcyjust in case, but not incidentally to pose for photos next to the Oscar logo on the red carpet and to shine with Academy members and award press inside.
Studios pay a pretty penny to get tables at the Governors Awards so they can then seat their ponies in the Oscar derby, and they clearly had no problem filling them up this year. Indeed, I’ve been covering these Hollywood awards shows for many years now and I’ve rarely seen a room full of stars. One could not turn around without bumping into, say, Adam Sandler (Rush) or Jennifer Lawrence (Elevated road) or Tom Hanks (Elvis) or Kate Blanchett (Tar).
Some big names were on hand to play an official role in the process. Thirteen-time Best Original Song Oscar Bridesmaid Warren was not only a guest of honor, but is also a contender for a 14th nomination for “Applause” from Tell it like a woman. Plus, Woody Harrelson (Triangle of sadness) presented to Fox. Violet Davis (The Queen of Women) presented to Palcy and sat at her table, as was Ruth E. Carter (Academy Governor and Costume Designer of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) and both Keke Palmer and Jordan Peele (no). And Laura Dern (The son) and Whoopi Goldberg (Until) are also directors of the Academy.
But most weren’t.
And I think the turnout was definitely boosted by the fact that this year’s picture and acting categories still seem so wide open. Everyone’s still in the game, so to speak – even people from projects that might not seem like the traditional Oscar bait, like a cannibal movie (eg. Bones and all‘s leading actress Taylor Russell), an R-rated comedy (eg Brothers‘s co-writer/star Billy Eichner) and non-English blockbusters (RRR‘s co-writer/director SS Rajamouli) – so it was worth showing up even if you couldn’t stay in town for long.
For example, Ana de Armas (Blond) told me she’s shooting a movie in Europe and won’t be able to return to LA until February, but she made sure she was in town for this. Florence Pug (Wonder) has also photographed abroad Dune: part twobut she hung in the room with Emma Korrin (Lady Chatterley’s lover). And Eddie Redmayne (The good nurse) flown in from London. And that’s just talent of Netflix projects!
It certainly doesn’t discourage the rise that many high-profile media opportunities – THR‘acting roundtables, Variety‘s Actors on Actors, Deadline’s Contenders, etc., not to mention guild Q&As and the like – are now scheduled around Governors Awards weekend.
Many of this year’s attendees were first-timers who were genuinely excited to be there. For example, earlier on Saturday I was chatting about the event with the best actor candidates Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The whale), Jeremy Pope (The inspection) and Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere Everything at once), who made plans with Sandler (a former visitor to Uncut gems) to have a drink there.
As the Governors Awards enter its teens, it’s become one of the cooler stops on the campaign trail — and yes, even more star-studded than the Oscars themselves.