Party guests of the annual Elton John AIDS Foundation and Mercedes-Benz/Icon Mann viewing parties filed into their respective celebrations on Sunday to see who would take gold in the company of stars, great food, and free drinks.
But immediately after the biggest snafu in Oscar history, 1,500 guests — half of them chatty, the other half dazed and confused — proceeded to the Governors Ball at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood. Event producer Cheryl Cecchetto decorated the ballroom in red, white, and gold, while everyone sampled from 35 dishes from chef Wolfgang Puck. Amazon and Vanity Fair also hosted celebrations following the historic Academy Awards ceremony.
And while the conversations usually center on the best Oscar moments, there was only one moment that everyone was talking about.
Here’s Variety‘s insider report on the hottest Oscar parties in town:
|Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend, and Colin Hanks attend the Amazon Studios Oscars celebration. Jones/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|
4:30 p.m. Tracee Ellis Ross shimmies out of her black trench coat and walks onto the red carpet of the Mercedes-Benz party with Icon Mann at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Dressed in a white fringe dress, she yells, “Ya gotta organize the fringe, girl!”
5:52 p.m. Elton John and David Furnish introduce “The Promise” at West Hollywood Park during an Oscar commercial break. Some of the box office proceeds from the film about the Armenian Genocide will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
6:02 p.m. Sharon Stone gets on stage during another Oscar commercial break to exhort the guests to text donations to Elton John AIDS Foundation. “Last year $6.3 million was raised this Oscar night. Let’s set our sights on even more this year,” she says.
6:42 p.m. Viola Davis wins and the entire Mercedes-Benz party erupts with excitement. The Macro Ventures team (Charles King’s production company, which helped to produce “Fences”) jumps up nearby and cheers Davis on.
7:03 p.m. Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, and Gaby Hoffmann of “Transparent” make a plea for donations at the Elton John AIDS Foundation viewing party.
7:09 p.m. Anthony Hemingway is spotted at the Mercedes-Benz party. He sports a brown fedora as he laughs with friends while holding two champagne glasses. He shares his excitement about Davis’ win and admits that he’s a bit conflicted about who the winner for best picture should be.
7:12 p.m. Anika Noni Rose, star of BET’s “The Quad,” says at the Mercedes-Benz party that she’s a huge fan of “Moonlight” and “Lion.” “I’m just taking it all in an enjoying the night,” she said. “I’m extraordinarily happy for Viola. It’s a really great year.”
9:11 p.m. When it’s announced that “Moonlight” is the actual winner, partygoers at the Mercedes-Benz event jump up and down in shock, mouths agape. One guest tells her friend “What the f—?” A few people who walked out of the room during the initial “La La Land” announcement return upon hearing the news and stare at the screen in bewilderment. One partygoer muses, “That was definitely a Steve Harvey moment.”
|Lorraine Toussaint was glued to the TV screen during the Mercedes-Benz annual viewing party with Icon Mann. Branch/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|
9:16 p.m. “As much as I wanted ‘Moonlight’ to win, you have to feel sorry for the ‘La La Land’ folks for having to give [the Oscar best picture trophy] back,” John says at his viewing party.
9:20 p.m. “After 25 years, we’re still standing,” says the “Tiny Dancer” singer. “We have given an olive branch to the new administration. We have to work with the people, we have to work together. We have reached out to Rex Tillerson,” the new secretary of state.
9:22 p.m. The live auction starts with a Barrie Wentzell portrait of Elton John and Bernie Taupin from 1970 going for $100,000.
9:30 p.m. One guest steps into the ballroom of the Governors Ball and looks at the white carpet, white sofas, and white chandelier before laughing, “So I guess the Academy finally decided to embrace the idea of Oscars So White.”
9:40 p.m. Nominated writer Allison Schroeder (“Hidden Figures”) sits with her husband, fellow writer Aaron Brownstein, and heaves a big sigh of relief that their new babysitter was able to watch their newborn.
9:45 p.m. Two tickets to Vanity Fair’s Oscar post-party are auctioned for $75,000 at Elton John’s bash. The singer takes the mic from the auctioneer to promote the item. “You’ll see all the stars every which way you look. So come on!”
9:50 p.m. Viggo Mortensen entered the Governors Ball with son Henry, who was responsible for convincing him to star in “The Lord of the Rings.”
9:58 p.m. At the Amazon party — in a classy, jazzy bar in West Hollywood — Colin Hanks and Adrien Brody are deep in conversation. Everyone is waiting for the best actor winner, along with the rest of the “Manchester by the Sea” cast and crew, to arrive.
10:05 p.m. At the Governors Ball, producer David Permut, whose “Hacksaw Ridge” won two Oscars, walked up to several friends, and said, “Wow! That was weird!” He didn’t preface it with an explanation of what he was talking about. He didn’t need to.
10:15 p.m. Singer-actress Cynthia Erivo, who won a Tony for her work in “The Color Purple,” sings ’70s hits for the guests.
10:16 p.m. Alabama soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones take the stage for the concert at Elton John’s after-party.
10:20 p.m. Most Governors Ball guests are talking about the wrong-envelope confusion. “I’m still trying to process this. What happened? And why was it handled so badly?” But since this is Hollywood, few are willing to go on the record, even though “WTF” sentiments are hardly controversial this night. “I feel bad for both the ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’ teams. One had their moment of glory and the rug was pulled out from under them. And ‘Moonlight’ didn’t even get a moment in the sun that it deserved. This was a mess. But don’t quote me.”
10:22 p.m. John joins St. Paul and the Broken Bones for a rousing number. “You can’t beat that s—,” says frontman Paul Janeway.
|Tommy and Shelby Chong pose for a photo at the Mercedes-Benz annual viewing party with Icon Mann. Branch/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|
10:30 p.m. Producer Jeremy Kleiner, holding his “Moonlight” Oscar, is smiling at the Governors Ball, but looks a little shell-shocked while surrounded by well-wishers congratulating him on his second win in four years. “Moonlight,” he is reminded, is the first Oscar best-picture winner with an all-black cast and key black creatives behind the camera.
10:40 p.m. Director Pablo Larrain accepts congrats for his film and for Natalie Portman’s nomination for “Jackie.” Portman couldn’t attend the Oscars because she’s far along in her pregnancy.
10:44 p.m. Elton John party guests, including Quincy Jones, are seen bopping to the music.
10:45 p.m. Jimmy Kimmel enters the Governors Ball amid applause and a few whoops from the crowd.
11:00 p.m. Michelle Williams and her date, Busy Philipps, arrive at the Amazon event, and are immediately surrounded by photographers and well-wishers. Williams poses for a few photos, chats with a few Amazon representatives, and then leaves through the back entrance at great speed.
11:35 p.m. The party immediately livenes up as soon as Casey Affleck arrives. People swarm Affleck, who looks dazed, clutching his golden statuette tightly in his right hand. Affleck hugs the film’s producers and whispers words of thanks to them .
11:55 p.m. Affleck and “Manchester By the Sea” writer-director Kenneth Lonergan embrace in one corner with both of their Oscars in hand.
12:55 a.m. The best actor winner climbs into a blacked-out SUV, swiftly followed by his girlfriend Floriana Lima and a cluster of friends, and leaves the celebration. Affleck was still holding on tight to his golden statuette.
|Best actor winner Casey Affleck rejoices with “Manchester by the Sea” producer Kevin Walsh. Jones/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|