The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences hosted their annual Oscar nominee luncheon on Monday, February 8, 2016, at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. This event celebrates all of the individuals nominated for Oscars from the biggest and brightest stars to the most articulate of writers. This year the nominee gathering included well over 150 newly Oscar nominated members from the film community.
Of the leading actor nominees, Bryan Cranston, Eddie Redmayne, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling, Jennifer Lawrence and Saoirse Ronan were in attendance. Also at the gathering were supporting actor nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christian Bale, Rachel McAdams, Sylvester Stallone, Rooney Mara, Mark Ruffalo and Alicia Vikander.
The nominees gather for lunch and are seated by the Academy in order for the nominees to meet others also nominated. The day also includes a photograph of all the Oscar nominees in attendance, known as the annual class picture.
Some of the actors and directors take a moment out of their busy day to speak to the press. This year an abnormally low amount of these nominees spoke to the press, and rumors hung around the Beverly Hilton Hotel that surmised that the nominees were avoiding the press and questions about the Academy’s problem with diversity.
Eleven of these nominees did brave the press and here some a summary of the some of their moments:
Alicia Vikander, nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl”
Alicia Vikander is celebrating her first Oscar nomination for her steadfast performance in "The Danish Girl." And it was her co-star, last year's winner for Best Actor, Eddie Redmayne that gave her some wise advice, "He told me to try to enjoy the award season process. So wonderful it is to be introduce in rooms and to meet actors and filmmakers that I have looked-up to my entire life. I am so proud of the films and the people I’ve been able to work with."
Director Adam McKay, nominated for Best Direction and Adapted Screenplay for “The Big Short”
McKay was asked about the prediction from "The Big Short," that another financial collapse is imminent, "I don't think you're going to see the same kind of crisis we had with the housing collapse, but I think what's clear from everything I've read and learned from the economists I've spoken to is that the banks have gotten way bigger. They're 35-40 percent bigger than they were during the collapse. The ratings agencies, who I find highly culpable for what happened, are actually three times bigger than they were. Dodd-Frank did some good things, but it's clear the problem is still in front of us. The reason we made the movie was that it was disheartening to us that the conversation had sort of stopped. We're gonna screen the movie for Congress on Wednesday. We've seen a lot of economists arguing back and forth, but most of all we're seeing regular people participate in the conversation. It's clearly a problem that isn't over with, and we hope our movie can push it further."
Brie Larson, nominated for Best Actress for “Room”
Brie Larson is hands down the top choice for many critics for her performance in "Room." Larson spends almost the entire film sharing her time with a young child, actor Jacob Tremblay. She only had wonderful things to say about the gifted child, "Working with Jacob Tremblay – I am a better person for knowing him and working with him. I got to go through this experience of being shot through a cannon into the stratosphere with him. The perception of the world, that innocence, that humor, that lightness that he brings to the movies is the same thing that he brings to his actual life. So, to do all this press with him has been such a gift. As I am constantly with this child that has a really easy way at looking at things, and doesn’t feel the better picture of it and is really excited about the present moment. He was a wonderful buffer while making the movie. He’s brought so much joy and light to my life."
Then she was asked about Tremblay's father. It appears that Tremblay's father has a earned a nickname during award season. "It's been around for quite a while, and now the internet is catching on. Yes, it's quite fun." Then she quietly said with a laugh, "By the way he is here today. Hot dad is here."
Eddie Redmayne, nominated for Best Actor for “The Danish Girl”
Eddie Redmayne portrays the first transgender woman to undergo a sex change reassignment surgery. When he was asked if he felt if his performance could be inspirational to the transgender community today, he remarked quietly saying "I would never assume that the film would have any sort of huge effect, but I hope that what we were doing is continuing the conversation. It's an extraordinary thing for us that, in the past year or two, trans issues have come into the mainstream media and yet what is dumbfounding is it's almost 100 years since Lili and Gerda's story. Everyone goes, 'It's happening. The change is happening.' But what's staggering to me is how long it's taken and how much of a distance there is to go."
Sylvester Stallone, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Creed”
No doubt, the sentimental favorite for Best Supporting Actor is Sylvester Stallone for his subtle performance in "Creed," playing his alter ego Rocky Balboa forty years after the "Rocky" won the Best Picture honors at the Academy Awards. It was obvious that Stallone was very honored by his nomination, "I take this as the most serious obstacle that's ever been presented. I never thought I'd be able to cross this threshold again. It was wonderful in 1976. That was a minor miracle. But as I get older, I realize miracles begin to diminish and the tunnel keeps getting longer and the opportunities tend to shrink in proportion to the amount of time you have left. To put it bluntly, I couldn't be more thrilled – and the fact that my daughters actually look at me now as an actor and not a bad golfer. [laughs] I said, 'I used to do this for a living,' but they won't watch my videos."
Director Thomas McCarthy, nominated for Best Direction and Best Original Screenplay for “Spotlight”
The main topic of conversation at this year's luncheon was diversity and McCarthy was willing to offer his take this important subject, "Where it comes down to for me is accountability, personal accountability. Race is a big question of 'what can we all do?' Everyone has to take part in it – every writer, director, actor, producer and theater-goer. I think if we all ask ourselves, 'What's my part in this?' Just in some small way, it will move the needle. That said, I think Cheryl [Boone Isaacs'] done an amazing job of navigating change. I think it's a great example of how quickly change can come about if people are serious. I have a lot of faith in our community – filmmakers and storytellers – to sort of lead the way. I think we always have, in some way; to be progressive, to be inclusive and to keep pushing that needle and that rock up that hill."
Director Lenny Abrahamson, nominated for Best Direction for “Room”
Many expected Brie Larson, star of "Room" to receive an Oscar nomination, but the film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. Lenny Abrahamson commented on this unexpected surprise, "Luckily I was sitting down when I found out, because I think I probably would've fallen over. I'm very honored. The thing that means so much is that it's the vote of your peers; it's the directors in the Academy who make that decision, so I just felt very honored. I think 'Room' is a film where the direction is, I hope, subtle and almost invisible, so it's particularly nice that other directors recognize the work."
Rooney Mara, nominated for Best Supporting Actress in “Carol”
When asked about the diversity controversy, she added more thoughts to the subject, "I think it’s a conversation we should be talking about and I was reading an article in the NY Times about “Carol,” that says the Oscars could also be called #SoStraight."
As to how award season has changed her, Mara commented, "I don’t feel like award season has changed me. It's a huge honor and its a great way to celebrate all of our films, but is sometimes is overwhelming and it feels like we‘ve been celebrating the same person’s birthday for months on end, and at times I really want it to end."
Rachel McAdams, nominated for Best Supporting Actress in “Spotlight”
When McAdams was asked about working with all men, she said she let the woman that she portrays in "Spotlight," to take the lead. "I felt pretty luck. I felt I was not only around great actors but really good people. So, it kind of felt like we were all there for the right reasons, regardless of boys or girls. I sort of took Sash’s (the reporter I play in the film) lead, because she was on a crew of only men on the real spotlight team. I asked her questions. She felt she was integral equal part of the team she was treated that way. She sort of put Robbie ahead of her as her mentor and pretty much everyone was on equal footing. Everyone was bringing their own talents to the team. Sasha was the one that most of the survivors felt comfortable speaking to. I think this when being a woman on the team came in handy. She was speaking to a lot of men that didn’t quite know how to open up about something that was so painful and she’s such a compassionate listener."
Director George Miller, nominated for Best Direction for “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Miller was "To be honest, I hadn't thought about it in terms of the next movies I hope to make. It's there in the back of your mind. I think casting is story-driven, but I think what's really good about what's happened, if there's a positive to come out of it, it's alerted everybody to the problem. It's really interesting to me how television responded way earlier than, I think, cinema has – in all countries, actually – in terms of diversity. It's there front of mind in a lot of cases. However, films are story-driven. If the story warrants it, of course there should be diversity of all kinds."
Jennifer Jason Leigh, nomination for Best Supporting Actress in “The Hateful Eight”
Many actors are waiting for a call from film director Quentin Tarantino. This popular director is known for bringing out the best in actors and often his actors receive Oscar nominations. In "The Hateful Eight," Jennifer Jason Leigh is among an almost all male cast and her character Daisy undergoes the most treacherous things from the men around her. It is a unique character for a woman to play. Remarking about her role, she said, "I think Quentin [Tarantino] knows what he's doing. Somehow he saw Daisy in me. I have no idea how. I don't even know where she came from, in a certain way. I don't laugh that way, I don't move that way. We found her in a very organic way and she came to be. That has so much to do with Quentin. It was a blast. I had the greatest time."