Life of the parties

Mood definitely brighter this time around

Oscar cut a rug this year.

Last year’s subdued wartime party scene was a receding memory Feb. 29, when bashes rolled the red carpet back out and revelers lingered well into the wee hours.

The Governors Ball, Oscargoers traditional first stop, was also unapologetically ornate, its decor revolving around a Versailles theme.

“If you’re going to borrow,” said ball co-chair Sid Ganis, “borrow big.”

Vanity Fair’s glittering do at Morton’s was also a study in contrasts from last year: Outside, its madhouse arrivals area was restored and packed with jostling cameras; inside, high-watt revelers couldn’t help but rub shoulders, elbows and occasionally midsections as they made their way through the crowded tented bash. Well past 1 a.m., revelers continued to party-hop to the bash.

Oprah Winfrey tried to parse the “LOTR” victory at the bar, where editor — and vocal smoking ban opponent — Graydon Carter had stowed a plentiful supply of cigarettes for revelers.

Past midnight, the “Rings” crowd started to trickle into the party, with Howard Shore among those toting gold.

An early-evening transmission glitch — revelers couldn’t view the ceremony for the first hour — was almost forgotten by the time “Rings” Oscar bearers started arriving at New Line’s Pacific Design Center bash. The pic’s 11 Oscars were being passed around like hors d’oeuvres.

Sean Astin arrived between stops at the Governors Ball and the Vanity Fair party, saying he’d be “raising a glass” at each event. Thesp felt a little sheepish about all the glory. “It was kind of extreme. By the fifth one, I was like, ‘Uh-oh, everyone is gonna hate us.”

Guest of honor Peter Jackson didn’t arrive until 1:30 a.m., having stopped by a fans party nearby.

Over at Elton John’s InStyle bash the knighted Brit rocked with rising teen star Joss Stone, raising more than $1 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“The crowd is the same size to me, but this year there is some renewed energy,” InStyle’s Charla Lawhorn said. “The timing last year was difficult with the war. People this year are ready to party.”

At least one nom was glad there was an end in sight to all the season’s parties. The seemingly indefatiguable Jim Sheridan confessed, “I’ve been to so many awards shows, I’ve got no more adrenaline left.”

Nicole LaPorte and Shalini Dore contributed to this report.

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