Oscars 2015: Parties for ‘Boyhood’ and the Beautiful People


From left, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and director Richard Linklater attending a Vanity Fair party for “Boyhood.”Credit Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Updated, 3:07 p.m. | LOS ANGELES — Sixty hours till the Oscars are behind us – hurrah! – and if you think the Bagger has been counting this down for weeks now, you’re absolutely right.

In the interim, Hollywood is prepping by throwing as many parties as it can. Well-meaning, random and baffling, invariably peopled by folks endowed with money, and/or looks and/or, it must be said, talent, the parties are easy to spot from the outside – by huddles of professional autograph seekers, fans, a few paparazzi, and valet lines clogged with Jaguars, Ferraris, Mercedes — and yours truly’s rented Chevy.

Starting Wednesday night, the Bagger dipped into the fray, braving standstill traffic created by the street closure near the Dolby Theater, the site of the Academy Awards, to get to the envirosustainability nonprofit Global Green USA’s pre-Oscar fête in Hollywood. Along with serving up kale, naturally, and paper (not plastic) straws, the party also drew an almost touching array of actors and celebrities from the ’90s and before: Billy Zane, Daphne Zuniga from “Melrose Place,” Cheryl Tiegs and … Marla Maples (!).

The Bagger had to miss Common’s performance of “Glory,” his Oscar-nominated song from “Selma,” as she set off for West Hollywood, where the Irish folks connected to the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Song of the Sea” were making merry in a cozy little pub, the towering and ever-funny Chris O’Dowd among them. This is the second film that the Cartoon Saloon, based in Kilkenny, Ireland, has had nominated, but those involved were clearly still over the moon about it. Even so, though the film has been released most elsewhere in the world, it has yet to open in Ireland, but will do so in July.


Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the Essence Magazine luncheon.Credit Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

On Thursday, Essence threw its annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, with the level of energy, glamor and sizzle in the room leaving no doubt that this is where the beautiful people were, among them Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lupita Nyong’o. The cast of “Orange Is the New Black” drew one of the heartiest standing ovations, with Danielle Brooks, who plays Tasha Jefferson, accepting a Vanguard Award for the cast. “I want to thank all you chocolate goddesses out there,” she said to hoots and applause, “It’s really a challenge being a blacktress.”

Common and Legend were set to perform “Glory” at that luncheon too, but again the Bagger had to split early again: a full night was ahead.

Over in West Hollywood, Vanity Fair threw a bustling smallish party for “Boyhood,” where the film’s stars tried to calm their jitters about its Oscar prospects – it’s considered neck and neck with “Birdman” in the race for best picture.


Patricia Arquette with Eric White at the Vanity Fair event.Credit Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/Associated Press

The Bagger also learned that Patricia Arquette’s recent Los Angeles-transplant artist boyfriend, Eric White, is still, charmingly, a member of the Park Slope Food Coop.

After failing to find the director, Richard Linklater, the Bagger was off again, to the Hollywood Domino event at the Sunset Tower Hotel, which she had mistakenly assumed was being thrown by the style magazine Domino. But no, this was something different altogether – a quick email check revealed that the event described itself as a gathering of “Hollywood’s elite to help support a number of nonprofit organizations around the world by playing a fun new glamorous version of dominoes for a great cause.” In this case, the “elite” included Gina Gershon, Adrien Brody and Russell Simmons, and the very glitzy fund-raiser, partly overseen by Ms. Arquette, was for Artists for Justice and Peace (a nonprofit group working in Haiti), to which rather young donors were pledging tens of thousands of dollars in support a year.

Correction: Feb. 22, 2015
An earlier version of this post misidentified a guest at the Essence luncheon as Tasha Jefferson. The guest was Danielle Brooks, who plays that character on “Orange Is the New Black.”

At the Governors Ball, Winners and Even a Happy Also-Ran


Emma Stone, Lego Oscar in hand, embracing the Oscar-winning Julianne Moore.Credit Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One of the perks of being on the West Coast for an awards show is that it’s beholden to East Coast time. Which means when things finally wrap up after dragging on for far too long, it’s only, like, 9 p.m. Delighted to have a first awards season behind her, and having endured a surprise red carpet rainfall (the tent sprang massive leaks), the Bagger was torn between a determination to head home, stat – what else is there to say to people after three months of nonstop talking about the same thing, for heaven’s sakes? — and wanting to let off some steam.

So, it was on to the Governors Ball, which is in a red-velvet-lined ballroom in the same complex as the Dolby Theater and involved cutting through a chilly and puddly outdoor mall, gown trailing a snail-like wet streak. Waiters passed by with mini chicken pot pies, caviar and crème-fraîche-daubed baked potatoes, and smoked-salmon toasts cut into Oscar shapes.


At the ball the Lonely Island guys, left, who performed “Everything Is Awesome” on the telecast, met up with Common, a best-song Oscar winner, and Questlove, right.Credit Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The winners and a few also-rans were there: Ethan Hawke split early, giving a curt “hello.” Patricia Arquette was huddled around a table with her people – her daughter, her sister Rosanna, and her boyfriend, the artist Eric White. Felicity Jones, glorious in her Alexander McQueen dress (no, the Bagger, in the spirit of #AskHerMore, didn’t ask what she was wearing – the Bagger just happened to overhear) was toting one of the Lego Oscars that had been floating around the show. Laura Dern, who walked the red carpet earlier with her father, Bruce Dern (they did the same for his Oscar nomination last year), was there with her two children. “Don’t you think your mom is the best actress ever?” an enthusiast asked her son. “Um, yeah,” the pretty-much-cornered kid replied.

The presence of the higher octane belles and beaux of the ball was signaled by a scrum of people and camera operators. One such crowd formed at the back of the ballroom as the night’s big winner, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, arrived with his family and writers and producers.


Eddie Radmayne with his wife, Hannah Bagshawe, at the Governors Ball.Credit Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Eddie Redmayne zipped by, heading to get his statue engraved; so did Julianne Moore, dancing a little to the live music — led by will.i.am yet evocative of easy listening – arm-in-arm with her husband, Bart Freundlich. Michael Keaton was floating around, too. “I wish you had won,” Mr. Keaton was told by a passer-by. “So do I!” he replied. Yet if disappointment ran deep, it didn’t show.

Others were off to the très exclusive Vanity Fair party in Beverly Hills, but not the Bagger (they didn’t extend an invite), who hopped into a limo with a few Fox executives on their way to the Fox Searchlight party. The studio, whose films won eight Oscars on Sunday, celebrated in a West Hollywood bar-restaurant and had all the dancing and merrymaking one would expect from a celebration of winners.

But back to the limo waiting area of the Oscars, which is a scene in itself: valets read the numbers of arriving rides through a megaphone to match car with customer, like an auctioneer. There are chaises and heat lamps and cappuccinos served from a gleaming four-foot-high machine.

Mr. Iñárritu asked the Bagger if she would mind snapping a photo of him and his wife and two children, which she did, to the auteur’s apparent satisfaction.

Oscars 2015: The Numbers, the Backlash and More

As awards season mop-up operations continue, here are a few developments to catch up on:


Patricia Arquette accepting her Oscar on Sunday.Credit Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Viewer Gap: The ratings for the Oscar telecast were down nearly 15 percent from last year, reports the Bagger’s colleagues Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes, who write that the dearth of box office hits in the Oscar mix was a big factor. “It’s sad, but most people have to finally accept that the Oscars have become, well, elitist and not in step with anything that is actually popular,” Philip Hallman, a film studies librarian at the University of Michigan, tells them. “No one really believes anymore that the films they chose are the ones that are going to last over time.” Read more.

Patricia Arquette Backlash: Meryl Streep and other stars cheered the supporting actress Oscar winner when in her acceptance speech she championed “wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” But her backstage remarks in the press room afterward were not so roundly hailed. “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now,” she told the assembled news media, a comment that drew rebukes from several quarters, Variety reports. Read more.


Pawel Pawlikowski, the “Ida” director, accepting the Oscar on Sunday. The orchestra tried to play him off, but he won that battle.Credit Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Celebration in Poland: By winning the foreign-language Oscar, “Ida,” the period drama about an 18-year-old novitiate who discovers she’s Jewish, broke the country’s nine-film losing streak. As the Bagger’s colleague Rick Lyman reports, news of the victory dominated Poland’s television channels on Monday, with politicians and experts debating the country’s international image in film and other important matters (like Oscar fashions). “Ida,” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, had drawn controversy from nationalist critics unhappy with how Poland’s role in the Holocaust was portrayed. But Mr. Lyman notes, “For the most part, though, the controversy was pushed aside Monday in a huge national wave of congratulation.” Read more.

Lamentation in Italy: The opening-night selection last year at the Venice Film Festival was “Birdman.” But the jury of that event passed over the eventual best picture Oscar winner and awarded its top prize to “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” the Swedish drama. Now Italian newspapers and other commentators are bemoaning the oversight, according to Variety, citing headlines like this one in the daily La Stampa: “’Birdman’ and its missed Venice opportunity.” Read more.

A Joan Rivers (Non-) Explanation: After the In Memoriam segment concluded without a mention of the death of the top fashion cop, outrage poured forth on Twitter. The Los Angeles Times checked in with the Academy on Monday and received this statement that doesn’t exactly explain the omission but is probably all we’ll get: “Joan Rivers is among the many worthy artists and filmmakers we were unfortunately unable to feature in the In Memoriam segment of this year’s Oscar show. She is, however, included in our In Memoriam gallery on Oscar.com.” Read more.

Last Thoughts on a First Season


The focus was intense in the months leading up to the 87th Academy Awards.Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The Hollywood Reporter just published a list of films that could prove Oscar worthy or baity in the coming year, but the Bagger can’t bring herself to read it. After three months of increasingly fevered speculation over who might win best picture, director and actor; of controversies over campaign tactics and stories told; of exhaustive poring over the tics and proclivities of 6,000 anonymous members of what remains an old boys’ club, it’s fair to say that anyone who pays much attention to this stuff, let alone covers it, deserves a break.

Some say the season has been a ho-hum one, with no big wow-factor film riding to the fore. Others say any season wherein indie gems like “Boyhood,” “Birdman” and “Whiplash” are competing for best picture should hearten us all. (Though, with the Indie Spirit Awards deeming “indie” as anything made for $20 million or less, it’s easy to raise an eyebrow; in fact that should be encouraged.) The Bagger falls in the second camp: love ’em or hate ’em, those three films, along with a few others in the race this year, felt like labors of love, sweat and tears, regardless of whether the Academy’s vote was a reflection or distortion of movie audiences and its own oft-criticized self.


Peace out: Julianne Moore post-Oscar win.Credit Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As for the season itself, the Bagger was rightly forewarned by her predecessors that it was a long slog, though she has yet to form the opinion proffered by the dearly missed David Carr that postseason, the propagandists all seemed, in his words, like “monsters.”

In looking back, the brightest spots included tea with Tilda Swinton, who’s all limbs, elegance and gregarious, gangly energy; Julianne Moore’s enthusiastic and disarming “Thanks, guys, for coming!” directed to her tablemates at a Midtown Manhattan lunch promoting her Oscar campaign; and the small, sweetly human discovery that Patricia Arquette’s boyfriend is a fellow member of the Park Slope Food Co-op.

The culminating event was, of course, Sunday’s Oscars. And several people have asked the Bagger her thoughts on the show, on its host Neil Patrick Harris, on Sean Penn’s jab at his old buddy Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who cast him in “21 Grams,” on Patricia Arquette’s widely celebrated, and denounced, acceptance speech and backstage remarks.

But the Bagger didn’t really see the show – she was back in the press room, where the live broadcast of onstage happenings was repeatedly interrupted by Q. and A.’s with the winners.

Broadly speaking, the Bagger believes that way too much importance and attention is given to these awards (while being very aware that that very attention is why her job exists) and to what the coddled celebrities trotted up for them do or don’t say. We can’t help but pay attention to these “stars,” though; their outsize place in our culture tricks our brains into paying them a whole lot of mind.

Movies do matter, their messages do too — but the whole thing, the awards thing, seems more to serve like a giant coffee-table book that we can gather around, sift through, admire, deplore – and, most important, and deliciously, widely talk and kvetch about. The entertainment business serves up distractions from our lives, and refractions of them, too; it’s not for nothing that the seat of it is known as La-La Land.

In any event, reeling things back, the Bagger bids you adieu till the cycle kicks back into gear, in what doubtlessly will feel like far too few months from now. Right now she’s typing from the Laurel Canyon dog park, patient canine at her side, and is looking forward to staring off into distances beyond her iPhone and laptop, into vistas not populated by publicists, studio machinators and movie stars.

Bye for now, and see you next season.