The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences feted 86 of its Oscar nominees yesterday at a gala lunch at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.In attendance at the major Academy event — a tradition since 1982 — were nominees from all categories, including actors Clint Eastwood, Robert Downey Jr. , Jack Nicholson, David Paymer, Marisa Tomei and Joan Plowright, screenwriters David Webb Peoples and Richard Friedenberg, directors Neil Jordan and Martin Brest, composers Jerry Goldsmith and David Foster and lyricist Linda Thompson. Also there were past Academy presidents Gene Allen, Fay Kanin, Howard W. Koch , Karl Malden, Walter Mirisch, Daniel Taradash and Robert Wise, in addition to executive director Bruce Davis and this year’s Oscar show producer Gilbert Cates and director Jeff Margolis. Addressing the nominees, Academy president Robert Rehme said jokingly, “Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid the fact that 80% of you are going to lose. But no matter what happens, you have been nominated by your peers and so this is a great year for everyone.” After lunch, a group portrait was taken of the nominees and each received an Academy certificate, “in recognition of the exceptional achievement an Oscar nomination represents.” Cates addressed the nominees and made his pitch for short acceptance speeches. “When I started producing this show, my dream was to have a treadmill that would take the person off the stage after 45 seconds,” Cates joked. “I need your help and indulgence. Please be brief. Forty-five seconds is enough time.” Before the luncheon, many of the nominees appeared before the press to field questions. Asked about the quality of roles for women in American films, “Enchanted April” nominee Plowright said, “The independent films like ‘Howards End’ seem to provide more complex roles for women. The roles aren’t incidental like in a lot of American films.” Downey, nominated in the leading actor category for “Chaplin,” gave credit to director Richard Attenborough. “He has an incredible sense of commitment,” Downey said, “and that helped give me the confidence I needed to do the role.” Asked about Chaplin’s contribution to film history, Downey said, “He took his personal experiences in life and that fueled his films. Films today have become a little less personal.”
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