Before the annual Oscar luncheon, held Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, some of the nominees stopped by a small room to meet the press. Everybody seemed in a good mood, not too anxious and said nice things about, well, everything.
The format was that there would only be three questions of each nominee. Some got two, some four, but inevitably there was going to be an occasional head-scratcher, and since it was an international crowd, some were regionally specific. Say your answer in German, one journalist implored Christoph Waltz, best-supporting actor nominee for "Django Unchained." Then there were the usual about "How do you relax?" and for the actresses, "What are you wearing to the Oscars?"
"Does any girl ever tell you?" a fetching-looking Amy Adams responded when asked that question. By the way, she looked pretty relaxed - her role in "The Master" is the actress's fourth Oscar nomination - and joked that having to come out to meet the press "just interrupted me flirting with Bradley Cooper." Then, inexplicably, the sound system began playing "Because the Night (belongs to lovers)." "Mmmm," she smiled mischievously, "that's going to be the theme of my lunch."
For the record, none of actresses gave a real answer to the "What are you wearing?" question. The closest was Jessica Chastain, best actress nominee for "Zero Dark Thirty."
"I'm looking for something that celebrates a woman's body ... that celebrates old Hollywood," said the actress, who is still performing in "The Heiress" on Broadway. And when asked about winning, Chastain, looking classic Hollywood in a flowered dress, quickly pointed out that the Oscar race isn't like a tennis match. "For me, I feel like I already won," she said.
One guy who looked very pleased to be able to talk about his film was Ben Affleck. He directed and starred in "Argo," which now seems to be odds-on favorite to win best picture. "There are junkets when I've run out of thing to say after 15 seconds," he said. "So it's incredibly satisfying to have something to talk about."
He then quickly sidestepped the question about not getting a directing nomination, saying he would leave "those sorts of calculations to the press and Oscar-ologists."
While some 17 of the 20 nominees in the acting categories were expected to attend, not all stopped by to talk to the press. Daniel Day-Lewis apparently did not attend, and Joaquin Phoenix didn't come into the press room. When the nominees were brought to the podium, standing behind them were two large, somewhat ominous-looking gold Oscar statues, which seemed to belong on a sci-fi show. ("Doctor Who and the Attack of the Oscars," anyone?) Maybe that scared Phoenix off.
But everyone from "Silver Linings Playbook" made an appearance. Jennifer Lawrence, in a white strapless dress, joked that she was going to wear sweatpants to the awards and then added, "This year I'm going to suck it up. I'm going to go for fashion ... and wear a corset." And as for relaxing, "Eating generally helps."
When asked if "Silver Linings Playbook" is a game-changer for him, first-time nominee Bradley Cooper noted, "I know that I wasn't up there for `The Hangover,"' adding on awards day, "I'm sure I'll be calming my mother down."
"Silver Lining's" Robert De Niro said, "It's still a big deal" to get a nomination. The two-time Oscar winner cringed a bit when someone referred to him
The fourth nominee from the film is Jackie Weaver, one of three Australians nominated in the acting categories. The others are Naomi Watts for "The Impossible" and Hugh Jackman for "Les Mis rables." The best-actor nominee said he downloaded every film version of "Les Miz" that he could find but "didn't watch any of them."
"Les Miz" best-supporting actress nominee Anne Hathaway, looking pixie-ish with her short hair, said the nomination has been a help to her. "You're not always in this golden moment."
Two veteran Oscar winners also came by - Sally Field for "Lincoln" and Denzel Washington for "Flight."
When asked how she got into her role, Field said, "As an actor it's hard to say how you become what you become ... I just did my work."
Washington was asked about African-Americans in film. "There is always room for improvement," he said, and asked if the press had seen any other African-Americans up there. He was then reminded about "Beasts of the Southern Wild's" Quvenzhan Wallis, who is 9 years old now and the youngest acting nominee ever.
"Oh, yeah, I've got to meet her," said a smiling Washington. "Maybe she can give me a role in one of her movies."
One of the few nonactors to appear was Tim Burton, who is nominated for his animated film "Frankenweenie." When he walked in, he gave a surprised glance at the Oscar statues. ("Oscars Attack!" anyone?). The director was wearing a sling on his left arm after a fall in London. "I have a metal plate now and I go off at airports."
The 85th Academy Awards, hosted by Seth McFarlane, will be held on Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and televised live on ABC. The broadcast will also go out to more than 225 countries.