"From the moment I met him, I said, 'I gotta have him,' because he's the best man in the world," she gushed. "His integrity and his capacity to love and his loyalty -- you can't compare."
Davis, an academy member, didn't have words as kind for the organization. Asked to respond to the argument that the academy is only as diverse as the industry, the actress said: "I don't think that that's what Hollywood is.
"I think that that's probably who's just accepted into the academy."
"The Help" table inside the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton was shaping up as a friendly affair. Jessica Chastain was flipping out: It's her first Golden Globes, she's nominated, and Elton John just walked by.
She's up against her friend Octavia Spencer for supporting actress in a film, but there is no friendly competition: "Octavia is going to win," Chastain announces.
Producer Chris Columbus arrives at that moment, and while director Tate Taylor and star Viola Davis take their seats he says, "If we win best picture, you all have to come up there with me. I'm not going alone. Octavia already told me she'd rush the stage."
When it comes to taking the stage as a winner, lead actress in a drama nominee Viola Davis has delivered some of the most heartfelt acceptance speeches. "I just have a lot to say after 23 years of being in this business, and 46 years of life," she'd said on the red carpet, flanked by her husband, Julius Tennon.
As for her bond with "The Help" cast members, David said she's become especially close with Spencer. "Octavia and I talk three times a day," she said, proceeding to imitate one of their conversations.
"It's like, 'Hey girl, what ya doin?' 'Oh nothin', what ya doin?' 'Eating pizza, what are you eating?' 'Oh, I don't know, maybe some black eyed peas?' 'All right then, talk to you later.'"
In the penthouse of the Chateau Marmont -- where the routine performances are those of service, fame and occasionally CPR -- W magazine toasted its Best Performances issue just ahead of Sunday's Golden Globes telecast.
With the luminous faces of Charlize Theron and Brad Pitt (the issue's cover stars) adorning the walls, crowds of movie stars, directors and executives floated over Sunset Boulevard mingling with each other and editor in chief Stefano Tonchi.
Theron rocked a lacy black dress and chatted up her "Snow White and the Huntsman" costar Chris Hemsworth -- who sported his "Avengers" platinum blond hair beside wife Elsa Pataky.
Tilda Swinton, rather stunning in a tapered white suit, greeted Tom Cruise, Viola Davis, Patrick Stewart and Jared Leto while monitors played clips of 2011's busiest thespians, including Carey Mulligan.
Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr roamed hand-in-hand, Bloom stopping to embrace "Elizabethtown" costar Kirsten Dunst and English breakout actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Jessica Biel, rumored to be engaged to Justin Timberlake, showed with an empty ring finger but a stunning floor-length sequin gown. She stuck close to a female pal and shared some laughs and a few glasses of Dom Perignon with Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the design duo behind label Rodarte.
"The Help" became a surprise hit at the box office over the summer, grossing more than $175 million worldwide -- and months later, star Viola Davis still seems bowled over by the movie's success.
"It's not only been a box-office success. It's been a heart success for people," Davis said at the Hollywood Awards on Monday night, where she and a number of "The Help" cast members were on hand to accept the prize for best ensemble.
"People feel again. They're coming out of this movie feeling something and not just saying, 'Oh, it was a great escape for two hours.' Their hearts have been convicted. That's big."
Before the film hit theaters, cast member Allison Janney admitted she was nervous that the movie’s ticket sales might not compare to the sales of the popular book upon which "The Help" is based.
"I knew there was a lot of pressure on us because of the success of the book. Like, 'Oh my God, is this gonna possibly do as well?' " Janney said. "I don't know how you can equate the two, but I think the movie has far surpassed what anyone thought it would do at the box office, certainly."
The film's popularity has even opened doors for some of its stars in Hollywood. Octavia Spencer, known prior to "The Help" largely as a character actress, said the film has led to a wealth of new career opportunities –- she's about to start work on Diablo Cody's directorial debut.
"I'm so thrilled. I never, ever would have had that opportunity before now," Spencer said. "I've never really gotten to play roles, I've only gotten to play parts ... a part usually is like something to facilitate the plot. To do a role where a character experiences some type of change from beginning to end is something I've never had the opportunity to do. So it's wonderful."
Photo: Emma Stone, left, Allison Janney, Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Ahna O'Reilly, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Mary Steenburgen at the Hollywood Awards on Monday. Credit: Kristian Dowling / Associated Press
What is so gratifying about insights into the world of an actress, such as those offered at the 18th Elle Women in Hollywood honors Monday? The struggle for equality, the transcendence of performance, the bonds of sisterhood in a ferocious industry?
Perhaps it's simply the knowledge that, according to Reese Witherspoon, they share manicure-and-makeout sessions.
At least that was one of more than a few funny highlights from the event, toasting a pack of women who have pushed boundaries for their craft and gender.
Introducing honoree Jennifer Aniston, Witherspoon celebrated the "Friends" alum's rare combination of "sex appeal and complete loveability. You want to get your nails done with her, and then make out with her. At least I do."
"That's what we do sometimes on Saturdays," Witherspoon cracked, as the ballroom of the Four Seasons Beverly Hills erupted in laughter. "We get our nails done ... and then make out. That's because she's my friend and not yours."
Camaraderie abounded at the dinner, during which honoree and L'Oreal Paris ambassador Freida Pinto sang the praises of Legend Award winner Barbra Streisand, saying Streisand's track "Putting It Together" helps her persevere. But the focus of the event was work yet to be done for Hollywood females.
"I've learned ... that you need to just focus on the work," honoree Viola Davis told us. "When you show up to set worried about your weight, worried about the success of your last movie, worried about your image you can't do anything. You can't even leave the ground."
Echoing those same sentiments in her acceptance speech, after an introduction from her "The Help" costar Octavia Spencer, Davis saw the entire room on its feet as a standing ovation was kicked off by Anistontablemate Chelsea Handler.
Other honorees included Naomi Watts, radiant in Calvin Klein Collection, who told some interesting anecdotes about the nature of roles for women but made room to thank the men in her life: partner LievSchreiber and their sons, Sasha and Kai.
Elizabeth Olsen was saluted by her "Martha Marcy May Marelne" costar John Hawkes, Evan Rachel Wood by Robin Wright, DreamWorks honcho Stacey Snider by Jon Hamm, Michelle Pfeiffer by Adam Shankman and finally, Streisand by "The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow -- to whom Streisand had handed the first best director Oscar ever awarded to a woman.
"[Let's] not wait for the phone to ring," Streisand urged her peers. "It's easier to relax, to not be judged, not to have pressure, no scrutiny, you don't have to face rejection."
Top photo: From left, Naomi Watts, Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Aniston, Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers, Stacey Snider, Freida Pinto and Evan Rachel Wood at the Elle Women in Hollywood honors. Credit: Getty Images
Bottom photo: Reese Witherspoon, left, cuddles up to her very kissable pal Jennifer Aniston at the event at the Four Seasons. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press
Viola Davis has one new bundle of joy and could be expecting another in February. The first is a daughter, Genesis. The second would be named Oscar — cold, gold and bald.
Davis became a mom "like, two days ago," Octavia Spencer announced Monday in Beverly Hills, at the Elle Women in Hollywood event during a speech honoring her friend and "The Help" costar.
The new mom confirmed the news in her acceptance speech, People said. Davis and husband Julius Tennon, also an actor, had spilled the beans on their intention to adopt back in August.
"Yes we are," she said on the red carpet at "The Help" premiere. "We're about to adopt a baby."
Davis has wowed with her performance in "The Help," and pundits are saying it's Academy Award material. In it, she plays a maid who is treated cruelly by the white family she works for in Jackson, Miss. The 46-year-old also was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in 2008's "Doubt."
At the movie's premiere, she told the Ministry, "You work on something and you work on something and you know how you want people to receive it, but when it's finally out there in the world and they get it and they're moved by it, that's why you wanted to become an actor."
Davis knows the joys of being an actor. Now she'll be busy learning the joys of being a parent. Genesis is her first child and Tennon's third.
DreamWorks honcho Stacey Snider will nab a prize (on the heels of her Variety Power of Women trophy), as will Mary-Kate and Ashley's little sister, Elizabeth Olsen, accepting the Calvin Klein Collection emerging star award.
Barbra Streisand will be on hand to take the L'Oreal Paris Legend award.
"As has long been our tradition, this year we honor an extraordinary group of women who continue to redefine what is possible in Hollywood," Elle Editor in Chief Robbie Myers said in a statement.
The fete goes down Oct. 17 at the swanky Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, where David Yurman will drench some of the esteemed gals in jewels.
Award season doesn't get underway for a few more months, but there's already plenty of Oscar chatter about the actresses in "The Help," especially the performances of Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, who star in the film along with Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Davis plays a maid who is treated cruelly by the white family she works for in Jackson, Miss. But the 45-year-old actress, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in 2008's "Doubt," said she has been ignoring the hype.
"There's positive reviews?" she asked on the red carpet for the premiere of the film in Beverly Hills Tuesday night. "I've stayed off the Internet. But that's good. It's great, because you never know if it's gonna work.
"You work on something and you work on something and you know how you want people to receive it, but when it's finally out there in the world and they get it and they're moved by it, that's why you wanted to become an actor."
Spencer, who plays Davis' character's outspoken best friend, said she was glad audiences were finally getting the chance to see the movie, directed by her longtime friend Tate Taylor.
"I'm excited for people to see it. I think it's important for the message of the film, about relationships and finding your voice and empowerment," she said. "Whether or not I'm excited about people seeing my performance, I don't know."
Even when it's one people are raving about?
"Actors can't be objective about their own work," she said matter-of-factly. "They just can't."
The film, an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel about civil rights in the 1960s, hits theaters Wednesday.