Because everybody is a VIP at the annual Vanity Fair Oscars party, there’s no roped off section. But that didn’t stop Leonardo DiCaprio — channeling his alter ego in “The Great Gatsby” — from keeping his distance. DiCaprio arrived shortly after 11 p.m., with his best actor Oscar statuette from “The Revenant” in hand, and he quickly set up shop in a booth at the front, with his friends (and bodyguards) acting as a shield. Chris Rock swung by to rub DiCaprio’s shoulder, as they whispered compliments to each other (on hosting/winning). Tobey Maguire lounged on an adjacent sofa. The rest of the well-wishers included Patricia Clarkson, Anthony Mackie and Juliette Lewis.
If you couldn’t get to the star, there was the next best thing. A few brave souls managed to actually touch Leo’s Oscar, which sat on a cocktail table. Then Caitlyn Jenner — in a beautiful red dress — swooped by the Leo circle without stopping. The Vanity Fair party is legendary for its exclusiveness with guests like Taylor Swift (who took selfies with friends at the bar), Sheryl Sandberg (wandering through the back area alone) and Elton John (at his own booth). But as the last big destination on the endless awards season campaign trail, it’s also the most honest party of the year, where the winners can really celebrate, the losers drown their sorrows and the rest of Hollywood can mingle, chow down burgers (courtesy of In-N-Out) and sometimes even engage in shameless PDA.
Just look at Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, who were hard to miss. The new couple kicked off the night early at the bar, where he kept rubbing the back of her spine as she caressed his arm. By midnight, they were in a dark corner outside the lady’s bathroom, making out. That’s one reason why “The Voice” is a hotter show than “American Idol.” Later on, Jennifer Garner (who just appeared on Vanity Fair’s “On the Rebound!” cover, discussing her divorce with Ben Affleck) held a mini-“Alias” reunion, chatting with J.J. Abrams and Victor Garber. But she also turned some heads by standing next to Affleck, as they both talked with Tim Allen. (Why is Ben Affleck talking to Tim Allen?) For a brief moment, it looked like they were back together, until they went their separate ways.
The affair at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday felt like a cross between the glitziest wedding in the world and the last day of high school. Most of the celebrities spoke freely, without the presence of a publicist — if you could manage to be close enough to eavesdrop. On the outdoor patio, Jon Hamm mingled, B.J. Novak furiously texted, and Jeremy Renner mock apologized to a female friend. “I was focused on the stripper that night,” he said matter-of-factly. Then he explained that he would not, under any circumstances, be photographed with a stripper in a club — that was the key to going to such clubs.
Sylvester Stallone, who narrowly missed out on winning an Oscar for “Creed,” looked crestfallen as held his wife Jennifer Flavin’s hand. “GMA” anchor Lara Spencer tried to cheer him up. “Let’s go over there,” she chirped, putting her hand on his shoulder. Anne Hathaway, glowing in a beaded maternity gown, made the rounds with her husband Adam Shulman, chatting up Eddie Redmayne and even getting her tummy rubbed by another guest. She eventually joined her “Devil Wears Prada” co-star Emily Blunt in a back room of the party where Kelsey Grammer and Topher Grace talked about the importance of using dramatic pauses in acting. “It loads up the audience,” Grace explained.
Back outside, James Corden kissed Paul Dano’s hand. Aaron Paul turned down an In-N-Out burger (other food options included miniature hot dogs, fried chicken and grilled cheese sandwiches with milkshakes). Hilary Swank made a joke that sounded like it was dirty. Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” started to dance with her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Charlotte Rampling looked happy alongside her “45 Years” director Andrew Haigh. Other noteworthy conversations: Sean Combs and Kerry Washington; Judd Apatow and Vince Vaughn; Bill Maher and Patrick Stewart; Tom Hooper and Bryan Cranston; Jake Gyllenhaal and Larry David (who both kept their arms crossed); and Wilmer Valderrama, who must have said hello to half the room.
At around 1 a.m., Lady Gaga and her fiance Taylor Kinney joined the festivities. As Gaga sat on a chair, other guests started to console her for not winning the Oscar for best song, as Gaga nodded appreciatively. Then she stood up and took a photograph with Mya Taylor, the star of the Sundance indie “Tangerine.” Taylor didn’t go to the Oscars this year, but she made history as the first transgender actress to win an Independent Spirit Award. Gaga took Taylor in her arms and told her that she looked absolutely beautiful, as the music continued to play late into the night.