The atmosphere on the soggy red carpet before the Academy Awards was one of fun, nerves — and potential danger. One of the last people to enter the Dolby Theatre just before the Academy Awards started was none other than Oprah Winfrey. “I’m afraid I’m going to trip on my dress!” she cried out as she made it to the stairs of the theater, her longtime beau Stedman Graham shortly behind. Long, flowing dresses like Winfrey’s were a popular choice – “The Theory of Everything” nominee Felicity Jones sported such a gown, as did Jennifer Lopez.
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Also making it into the theater just in time was Jared Leto, sporting a powder blue tuxedo. “I made it myself,” he joked (we think).
There were some unique accessories on the red carpet, perhaps none more so than “Boyhood” producer Cathleen Sutherland’s fingers in a splint. They were sprained at the Bafta Awards after a well-wisher gave her a way-too-firm handshake. “He meant well,” she said.
Another popular accessory was parents; Laura Dern (a nominee for “Wild”) brought her father, Bruce, who was nominated last year for “Nebraska.” Newly minted star Dakota Johnson was accompanied by mother Melanie Griffith, who was nominated for lead actress in 1988’s “Working Girl.” When interviewers asked whether Griffith and dad Don Johnson had seen “Fifty Shades of Grey,” there was an awkward pause as Johnson hemmed and hawed. Johnson won points however for matter-of-factly admitting she took home a flogger from the racy film’s set, leaving Ryan Seacrest speechless.
Speaking of Johnson, her hit film won’t see a sequel anytime soon. The film’s producer Dana Brunetti told Variety’s Ramin Sedooteh that no one at Universal has discussed a sequel yet, making it unlikely to be ready for Valentine’s Day next year.
Many of the best picture nominee teams said they had yet to discuss who would give the speech. When asked who would be speaking, “The Imitation Game” producers Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman all looked at each other. “Should that honor actually occur, I’m sure we’ll figure it out,” Ostrowsky finally said. “Boyhood” producer Sutherland said she was fairly sure it would be director Richard Linklater speaking. And “Birdman” producer John Lesher said it would be director Alejandro G. Inarritu. However, Inarritu is also nominated for director so what if he wins both? “He’ll give two speeches,” Lesher said simply.
Lesher also admitted he was shocked when “Birdman” won the PGA Award in January. “To be honest, I was so relaxed that whole evening because I genuinely didn’t expect us to win,” he said with a laugh. “But tonight I’m nervous.”
Warner Bros. president Sue Kroll said she was more excited than nervous to celebrate her studio’s “American Sniper.” She admitted that the film’s late release might have prevented it from garnering noms at Golden Globes and Baftas. “We barely got the screeners out to SAG in time,” she said. “But obviously the response to the movie since we opened has been incredible. People are really connecting with it and responding to it, it’s been really amazing to see.”
Kroll also added she was hoping for Bradley Cooper to take home lead actor, the most competitive category of the evening. Steve Carell, nominated for “Foxcatcher,” mentioned that the lead actor category is full of some of the nicest guys in Hollywood — Cooper, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton and Benedict Cumberbatch. “I’m the biggest jerk in there,” he quipped.
One actor not included in that tight race is Jake Gyllenhaal, who earned SAG and Globe noms for “Nightcrawler.” Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg, who distributed the film, didn’t mince words on the red carpet. “Jake Gyllenhaal not getting nominated is an outrage,” he said.
Another snub that came up was “The Lego Movie” for animated film. Eric Beckman of GKids, who distributed “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” said, “We’re not going to talk about ‘The Lego Movie,’ but everything is awesome for us.”
All in all, the air was full of excitement and awe, even for the nominees. “The Theory of Everything” writer-producer Anthony McCarten, attending for the first time, expressed some disbelief at being there. “I’ve been captivated by the Oscars since I was big enough to turn a TV set on,” he admitted. “I used to watch it in New Zealand where I was born — I’d sneak downstairs at 3 in the morning to watch it. So to be on this side of the velvet rope is thrilling.”