Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett locked in a long embrace, their bare, muscle-bound arms wrapped around each other. They whispered, laughed and squealed with glee as nearly every phone in the vicinity came out to take photos.
Vanity Fair’s annual post- Oscars party was full of such moments of warmth and joy as Sunday night led into Monday morning after a drama-free Academy Awards, with none of the head-shaking heaviness that hung over last year’s post-slap edition.
Yeoh, whose best actress Oscar was one of seven on a dominant night for “ Everything Everywhere All at Once,” had just walked into the party and was swarmed by well-wishers and selfie-seekers before seeing Bassett, who hadn’t looked happy when she lost best supporting actress to Yeoh’s castmate Jamie Lee Curtis but was all smiles here.
Yeoh later grasped her Oscar as she rocked back and forth to the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” at the edge of the dance floor, though it was hard to do much dancing with all the attention she was getting.
Brendan Fraser got the same treatment when he walked in holding his best actor Oscar for “The Whale” shortly before Yeoh, making his way very slowly across the room amid constant congratulations.
Half of the directing duo behind “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Daniel Scheinert, with none of the three Oscars he won Sunday night nor his partner Daniel Kwan in sight, stood outside and ate an In-N-Out burger, the party’s traditional meal, as he bopped up and down to House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”
“Finally getting some dinner,” Scheinert said as a long night, and an even longer awards season, neared its end. “This is nice.”
The champagne-soaked affair, which begins as a viewing party for 100 people and grows into the night’s most sought-after invitation, is thrown in a space that connects the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with Beverly Hills City Hall and is hosted by Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones.
It’s always also full of far-less-famous folks holding Oscars, winners in categories including best documentary short, who get an automatic invite with their statuette.
Oscar night is just beginning for many stars once the ceremony itself ends, and the first stop is always the Governors Ball, just an escalator ride up from the Dolby Theatre in the Ovation Hollywood complex.
Winners go with one main objective: getting their Oscars engraved with their names, which this year was in plain sight of the party. Others take the chance to get a bite to eat of the Wolfgang Puck-prepared bites. Harrison Ford even made a quick loop around the room.
Here, too, the mood couldn’t have been more different from the year prior, when the slap cast a pallor on the celebration. This time around, the winners could simply focus on their own moment.
“ Navalny ” director Daniel Roher took his newly personalized best documentary feature Oscar with him to wait in line for prime rib. Sarah Polley followed, bounding her way up the stairs with her adapted screenplay Oscar in hand.
It was relatively calm until Curtis made her way to the platform and photographers clamored to snap pictures.
When Ke Huy Quan finally appeared to get his best supporting actor statuette personalized, he hammed it up for the cameras, pumping his fist and pointing toward the word “Oscars” emblazoned on the screen above him.
“The Whale” playwright and screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter was still processing the fact that Fraser not only won, but name-checked him in his acceptance speech.
“We set our expectations low, so it was incredible,” Hunter said. His husband standing at his side added, “He was totally crying.”
Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel meanwhile was waylaid outside of the main party, chatting with “Top Gun: Maverick” director Joseph Kosinski and “The Whale” director Darren Aronofsky. Judd Hirsch also made his way to Kimmel, who was in good spirits standing next to his wife and producer, Molly McNearney, as he sipped red wine.
“I thought it was a good show,” screenwriter Tony Kushner said on his way out. “I thought Jimmy Kimmel did great.”
Brian Tyree Henry snapped a photo with Troy Kotsur, who won a best supporting actor award for his role in “CODA” at last year’s Oscars, on his way out the door, leaving Kotsur free a few moments later to run after Michelle Williams. When she stopped and turned around, Kotsur complimented Williams on bringing such authenticity to her role in “The Fabelmans.”
“Thank you so much,” she said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do.”
By 9:30, some were ready to go. Hugh Grant pointed to the exit and, separately, Sigourney Weaver wasn’t far behind. Vanity Fair was underway already, after all, and a drive away. Grant would be sipping champagne there soon after. Weaver, Kimmel and Hirsch soon followed.
“The Fabelmans” director and Hollywood royalty Steven Spielberg made a rare, and brief, party appearance. He was greeted and embraced by Arianna DeBose, who won an Oscar last year for his “West Side Story.”
The fame, and fortune, of the Vanity Fair party goes well beyond Hollywood.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and partner Lauren Sanchez traded hugs, posed for photos and suggested travel plans with Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and wife Ciara.
Tennis great John McEnroe, his wife, singer Patty Smyth, and actor and screenwriter Mindy Kaling chatted and stood for their own photos across the room.
Outside on the smoky patio, Andrew Garfield and Seth Rogen shouted to each other over the pumping music from the nearby dance floor, and Rogen let loose his unmistakable laugh. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai strolled up to say hi soon after.
Yeoh and Fraser, best actress and best actor, ran into each other in the valet area outside the party and had one last warm hug at the end of a triumphant awards season for both that had the happiest of endings.
Both were still getting constant kudos and requests for photos as they climbed into their cars and were whisked away.
Andrew Dalton And Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press