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Greta Gerwig, Ryan Gosling join fellow Oscar nominees for annual celebratory luncheon

Finneas, left, and Billie Eilish attend the 96th Academy Awards Oscar nominees luncheon on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The casts of “ Barbie ” and “ Oppenheimer ” gathered Monday at the annual Academy Award nominees luncheon alongside dozens of less famous and first-time Oscar hopefuls for handshakes, hugs, a huge group picture and instructions on nailing an acceptance speech.

The event at the Beverly Hilton is a warm, feel-good affair where nominees in categories like best animated short get to rub shoulders and share tables with acting nominees like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, whose snubs for best director and best actress, respectively, for “Barbie” caused a major stir, both showed up for the nominations they did get, and were all smiles.

Gerwig, nominated for adapted screenplay, was surrounded by selfie-seekers as soon as she entered the banquet hall while Robbie, up for best picture as a “Barbie” producer, beamed nearby as she hugged and chatted with a woman who got one of the best actress spots, Sandra Hüller of “Anatomy of a Fall.”

The centerpiece of the event is a class photo of the entire group of nominees. Nearly all of them usually attend, both as part of the Oscars experience and as part of their unspoken campaigns for votes.

Gerwig and Robbie got some of the loudest cheers of the afternoon when their names were called during the class picture roll call that feels like a school commencement and is perhaps the day's most egalitarian tradition. The names are read and nominees called up to risers in an order that seems to make no accounting for fame.

In one typical trio, Carey Mulligan, best actress nominee for “Maestro,” was summoned to the risers between David Hemingson, who was nominated for writing his first film, “The Holdovers,” and James Price, nominated for production design on “Poor Things.”

Martin Scorsese, 81, nominated this year for best director on “Killers of the Flower Moon,” may have gotten the loudest ovation of the day when he was called up. He sat between the favorites in the actress category, Da'Vine Joy Randolph of “The Holdovers” and Lily Gladstone from his film. Both towered over the shorter Scorsese. “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan reached across Gladstone to shake his hand as he sat down.

Gerwig got a happy greeting from “Barbie” best supporting actor nominee Ryan Gosling, who kissed each of her cheeks.

The luncheon dress code is daytime casual. For Gosling that meant a lilac suit with matching shirt, for Robbie a light pink beaded business suit with a bared midriff. Colman Domingo brought in a bit of evening with a tailed black jacket, black shirt with a plunging neckline and white slacks.

The first attempts at the photo didn't go well. When they finally got a few that worked, Robert Downey Jr., supporting actor nominee for “Oppenheimer," who had been shouting joke instructions to the group of several hundred, leapt up, pumped a fist and shouted “yeah!” then turned and began applauding his fellow nominees.

Most major nominees including Cillian Murphy, a favorite for best actor for “Oppenheimer,” and Bradley Cooper, one of his category competitors, spent the hours before and after lunch making the rounds of media outlets whose reporters are set up in cabanas around the Beverly Hilton pool.

Cooper was headed toward the pool when he ran into Messi, the dog with a key role in “Anatomy of a Fall." Cooper knelt down and gave the border collie a long, thorough petting.

The nominees sat for a vegetarian meal of king oyster mushrooms and wild mushroom risotto while Academy President Janet Yang gave her annual remarks.

She used last year's luncheon to address what she called the Academy's "inadequate” response to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the previous year's ceremony.

Her remarks this year had a much lighter tone, and dealt with more mundane matters more akin to a freshman orientation, like the timing of the Oscars ceremony.

“In case any of you have been in a nominations haze, we are starting an hour earlier this year,” she said.

When she saw surprise around the room she said, “Ooh, some people didn’t know! I’m glad I reminded you!”

She drew groans when she added that the Oscars come on the first day of daylight saving time.

She also delivered the president’s annual instructions on victory speeches, mostly urging winners to be brief and stick to the 45-second limit but also “speak from the heart,” “feel the moment” and “add a bit of humor.”

She then played a montage of past speeches that met the ideals, with clips from Jamie Lee Curtis, Brad Pitt and Ke Huy Quan.

It ended with the academy’s Platonic ideal of a speech played in its entirety: Javier Bardem’s 2008 acceptance of best supporting actor for “No Country for Old Men.” Total time: 37 seconds.

Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

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