While a nearly silent, black-and-white throwback film to old Hollywood won best picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards, after-parties around town celebrated present day Hollywood with explosions of color, conversation, pounding music and pure glee.
At Vanity Fair’s always compact, A-list soiree at West Hollywood’s Sunset Tower Hotel, one of several parties following the 84th annual Academy Awards at the Hollywood&Highland Center, starlets and Oscar nominees and winners chatted, ate, roared with laughter and giggled to each other.
The scene played out like one of the charmingly glam moments depicted in soundless best picture Oscar winner “The Artist,” set in Los Angeles during the late 1920s transition from silent movies to talking pictures, yet filled with lively noise.
Jonah Hill, nominated for a best supporting actor award for best picture nominee “Moneyball,” smiled and shouted out a sassy expletive decrying his and the film’s loss, surrounded by a pack of friends, including Seth Rogen.
Rogen, who hosted Saturday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, also laughed and drank with fellow funny guy Jason Segel, star of “The Muppets” movie, and comic-musician Bret McKenzie, who pumped his Oscar for best original song, for “The Muppets,” into the air.
“I think there was a list of people I had to apologize to,” acknowledged Rogen, to Hill, about his pointed barbs at the Spirit Awards aimed at a number of people, including director Brett Ratner, who dropped out of producing this year’s Oscars after making a gay slur.
The party, hosted by Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, served up wine and champagne as well as comfort food, from fried macaroni and cheese balls to hamburgers from In-N-Out. A live stand-up bassist and drummer played jazz tunes.
In one corner booth tucked to the side of the party’s outdoor patio, Gwyneth Paltrow held court with her Coldplay husband Chris Martin and silver screen vet Jane Fonda, while talking with Cameron Diaz.
Across the room, Jennifer Lopez lovingly fiddled with the collar of her boyfriend Casper Smart’s shirt. Lopez, wearing a maroon-brown sequined Zuhair Murad gown with a plunging front and back, later gabbed with her ex Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. The hip-hop mogul warmly rubbed her arm as Smart stood nearby.
Tom Cruise, standing next to his wife Katie Holmes, became downright excited talking to “Star Wars” director George Lucas. “You gotta do that, you gotta do that, you gotta direct!” Cruise loudly told Lucas.
Other attendees included Steve Martin, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, Tina Fey, best actress Oscar nominee Rooney Mara and best actor Oscar nominee Demian Bichir.
A dapper David Beckham chomped on a burger while keeping close to his wife, Victoria Beckham. Sacha Baron Cohen pulled a complete 180 from his controversial Oscar red carpet stint dressed as a Moammar Gadhafi type figure to promote his upcoming film, “The Dictator.” Hanging out in a normal black tux, Cohen looked nothing like the bearded military character who poured ashes all over E! host Ryan Seacrest before the Oscar telecast.
Just south of the bash, at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Oscar viewingdinner and after-party, actors and musicians co-mingled for an especially vibrant, grand fete for the event’s 20th anniversary.
Previously held at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center, the party shifted for the first time to a larger space across the street, at West Hollywood Park, with 200 more dinner guests than usual, bringing the tally to 910.
More than 80 tables decorated with grey, blue and white cloths filled the massive blue and white tented dinner ballroom. Celebrities walked down a pristine white carpet into multiple tents serving cocktails, wine and upscale carbonated juice drinks. One outdoor tent was decorated with hanging blue mirrors.
Only 14 months old, Sir Elton John’s son, Zachary, made a brief appearance during a cocktail hour just before the dinner, as John and his civil partner David Furnish took turns showing him off to well-wishers. The blonde toddler wore a black jacket with his name stitched on it, and chewed on a cloth napkin. John sported a black embellished jacket with his glittering initials spelled out on the back.
Guests such as Neil Patrick Harris, a blue-bobbed Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and her boyfriend Liam Hemsworth, Anna Paquin and her husband Stephen Moyer, John Waters, Kim Kardashian and her pregnant sister Kourtney feasted on a five course meal that included sauteed sea bass with pepper saffron sauce, beef tenderloin with leek bread pudding and apple-pear tart for dessert.
Steven Tyler talked about balancing recording the new Aerosmith album in L.A., being a judge on “American Idol” and attending an Oscar party such as John’s.
“It’s crazy, it’s crazy,” said Tyler, decked out in rock ‘n’ chic tight black brocade pants. “After all this, tonight, I’ll go back to the studio and record a song. I’ll probably get to bed around 2 a.m.”
Perry sat at a middle table with John, Furnish and “American Idol” alum Adam Lambert. Newly single Heidi Klum, a regular at the bash, sat at a nearby table next to Kyle MacLachlan and the Kardashians.
“Tonight we’ve raised more money at this event than we ever have before,” John told the crowd after a feisty post-dinner auction that netted $5.25 million for the foundation’s fight against HIV and AIDS.
Things became a bit rowdy when celebrity chef Cat Cora, who created the night’s menu, egged on would-be bidders to snatch up an in-home cooking class for up to ten people she would host. Perry and Steve Tisch, owner of NFL champs the New York Giants, then started a bidding war, with Tisch the winner, for $100,000, but Perry named a co-winner. Cora joked about kissing Perry, in a nod to Perry’s hit “I Kissed a Girl,” then came over and pecked her on the cheek.
Just before indie rock band Foster the People came out onstage to pound out hits such as “Pumped Up Kicks,” a DJ spun songs catching the ear of friends Kelly Osbourne and Cyrus, who made mock kissing faces for photos and danced to a remix of Adele, mouthing the words. Gwen Stefani sauntered into the post party with a full entourage.
The Governors Ball, the Academy Awards’ official after-party, at the Hollywood&Highland Center, was re-tooled this year from a formal sit-down affair to a cocktail bash, which served the guests just fine. Viola Davis sat with Octavia Spencer, and Spencer’s best supporting actress Oscar, for nibbles and drinks while best actress nominee Michelle Williams and pal Busy Phillips roamed the venue hand in hand.
Honorary Oscar winner James Earl Jones presented the event’s headlining performer, Tony Bennett, whom he referred to as “an American classic” and “Frank Sinatra’s favorite singer.”
At John’s shindig, first-time attendee “Glee” star Darren Criss, himself musically inclined, noted the irony of “The Artist” juxtaposed against the party’s backdrop of booming music and screamed conversation.
“When people allegedly schmooze, they shout at each other. I like to sit down and have a conversation,” he said.