Light Mode

2001 Academy Award Nominees Luncheon

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Mar. 12, 2001 — On this morning after the Screen Actors Guild Awards, sport coats replace tuxedos and spring dresses take the place of ball gowns.

It’s the Oscar nominees luncheon, and gone are the nerves and polite “It’s an honor to be nominated”-isms. Held at the Beverly Hilton, the casual event brings honorees together to receive certificates, take a group photo and dine on chateaubriand with merlot sauce and sea bass with red pepper coulis. Best Actress nominees are thrown together with Sound Effects Editing contenders, Supporting Actors with Makeup nominees. A sort of pre-ceremony meet-and-greet, if you will.

Today, nominees Jeff Bridges and Ed Harris jovially hug each other in one corner while Kate Hudson giddily describes her encounter with Russell Crowe. Javier Bardem jokes that he doesn’t know anybody. Then they get thrown into a room to field questions by journalists to discuss … well, what an honor it is to be nominated.

- Advertisement -

Here’s our take on Oscar’s Class of 2001 (at least, the ones who talked to us):

Class President: Tom Hanks. Striding into his fifth nominees’ lunch and facing a possible historic third Best Actor win, the actor formerly known as a Bosom Buddy made no secret of his weariness with the press, yet still managed to come off like Mr. Nice Guy. The Cast Away star likened his multiple Academy encounters to the planet Jupiter, which “never gets bigger, but remains a constant big ball of gas.” He further explains: “It’s got a big red dot on it that you hope shines on you at the appropriate time, just like the cameras they shove in your face. It’s never less than the big event of the year.”

Most Popular: Best Actor contender Russell Crowe reports that he traveled from Australia to Italy to Spain to London to Australia to London to Milan to Austin to Nashville to West Virginia to New York City to Las Vegas to Los Angeles — all in the last month. The Aussie hunk grins amid revelations that he was the target of a kidnapping plot (“I really don’t think these blokes have put that much thought into it.”). Instead of worrying, Crowe uses his podium time to tell everyone that the album he put out with his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, debuted at No. 7 on the Australian charts.

Most Likely to Succeed: Ang Lee, who’s pulled a one-two punch by winning the directing award from both the Golden Globes and the DGA. Not only that, but he’s developing a project on the Incredible Hulk and is working on a prequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. His secret? Holding a banquet for the cast and declaring his vision of “a Hollywood production value with a Chinese budget and Hong Kong efficiency.”

Class Idealist: Geoffrey Rush (Quills), who proposed a new idea for the awards: having the nominees play each other’s roles. Fellow nominee Hanks apparently warmed to the idea. “I said, ‘What would you want to do?’” Rush said. “And we both went, ‘Well, Gladiator. And we want to see Javier Bardem do the Marquis.”

Class Brain: Supporting Actor nominee Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire), who casually spewed three- and four-syllable words like “prosaically bound” and “equanimity” throughout his interview, without sounding the least bit arrogant. Yes, we had to look those up.

- Advertisement -

Class Clown: Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls). While the Best Actor nomination has made him a hero in his native Spain, Bardem laments one thing: “I’ve been offered two Cadillacs, one big house in Beverly Hills, two golden watches, but not any roles,” he joked. “So something is wrong here.”

Class Flirt: Chocolat star and previous Oscar winner Juliette Binoche, who charmed the press by arriving first and discussing the audience’s need for fairy tales and her all-French makeup, hair and dress crew (Jean-Paul Gaultier will design her Oscar gown). When asked about her “relationship” with chocolate, the Best Actress nominee impishly replied, “We have children together.”

Most School Spirit: Tie, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden. “I’m still in the midst of the choosing of the dress, all of that stuff. It’s an experience I’m so grateful to have, and I’m enjoying every second,” Laura Linney reports, while a sweet, beaming Harden is giddy over getting to choose an Oscar gown. “I’m on cloud nine,” she sighs.

Most Competitive: Ellen Burstyn, who has been nominated six times, winning in 1975 for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. When asked how badly she wanted to win, the Best Actress nominee looked into the reporter’s eyes and deadpanned, “Totally.” Julia Roberts, watch your back.

- Advertisement -