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George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the crew chow down at Oscar lunch

February 6, 2012 |  5:49 pm

Oscar luncheon

It's the one Hollywood power lunch where no one need declare, “Don't you know who I am?” At the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Monday, nearly everyone inside the ballroom was an Oscar nominee.

Of the 188 people up for Academy Awards this year, 150 attended the annual Oscar nominees luncheon, with the notable exceptions of publicity-shy directors Woody Allen and Terrence Malick and producer Scott Rudin.

At the unusually democratic schmoozefest, stars such as Brad Pitt and Michelle Williams shared tables with little-known industry craftsmen such as sound mixers and documentary short film directors.

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees luncheon

“In this room, all nominees are equal and all films are equal, which is why we don't have a 'War Horse' table or a 'Descendants' table,” said Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. “Remember how rare this privilege is . . . it's the last time you'll be rooting for each other.”

The nominees posed for a group photo before ascending a stage to collect their certificates of nomination, a process that allowed for plenty of cheering each other on. Meryl Streep teared up when the name of her longtime makeup artist, J. Roy Helland, was called for his work on “The Iron Lady,” Steven Spielberg blew a kiss to “The Help's” Octavia Spencer, and everyone from Martin Scorsese to Nick Nolte genuflected to Max von Sydow, the 82-year-old supporting actor nominee for “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

During the cocktail hour, Rooney Mara nursed a cup of tea and fielded congratulations, both for her lead actress nomination for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and for the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory — her family co-owns the team. “I was at the game,” Mara said. “It is a big deal for us.”

Double nominees Pitt and George Clooney huddled briefly with “The Artist's” Jean Dujardin, assembling into a Mt. Rushmore of handsome leading mandom. As a photographer counted off “1, 2, 3,” Clooney translated for a smirking Dujardin, who is French, “Un, deux, trois.”

“I'm excited to get my picture taken with the giant Oscar,” said Bret McKenzie, a nominee for his song “Man or Muppet,” who chatted with “Moneyball's” Jonah Hill.

In remarks to the group, show producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer offered tips on staunching nerves and delivering memorable speeches. Grazer, perhaps to assuage some jittery nominees, shared his own story of bounding up at an Oscar ceremony when he heard a “B” and thought Sidney Poitier was calling his name for “Apollo 13.” (Poitier was actually announcing “Braveheart” as the winner).

Grazer also shared some of the plans he and Mischer have for this year's ceremony, which he said will focus on the “socialized, collective experience” of moviegoing, including decorating the inside of Hollywood's Kodak Theatre to feel like a classic movie palace.

“We're gonna try to be funny . . . have a little class and be on time,” Grazer said.


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Photo: Gary Oldman, left, Jean Dujardin, Demian Bichir, Brad Pitt and George Clooney at the Oscar nominees luncheon. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times