“With numbers, they can’t ignore us,” Meryl Streep told the guests of the Women in Film pre-Oscar cocktail party, doubling down on the message from her headline-making speech at the Golden Globes. Brie Larson, the host of the evening and last year’s best actress winner, hooted in support from the side of the stage before taking the mic herself.
Streep and Ava DuVernay had been brought on stage by Cathy Schulman, president of WIF, to help kick off the celebration of this year’s female Oscar nominees. And a celebration it was; feelings of jubilation and pride in being able to support one’s fellow female creatives didn’t dissipate even as the evening wore on.
Perhaps the sentiment was bolstered by Larson’s comments: “You’re given this incredible opportunity to be part of this space with others. Let’s share our stories.”
The “Room” actress went on to add, “We’ll be here a year later and let’s talk about how this was the moment when we went, ‘I got it. I know how to make the world a better place.’ Artists are the ones politicians fear. It’s always been the case. So let’s do it.”
Bolstered by Larson’s positivity, the nominees, each pinned with a white gardenia, appeared gleeful as they flocked to the stage and stood for a group photo. The political messages both Larson and Streep made Friday night at Nightingale Plaza seemed necessary for a night like this, for there wouldn’t be much to celebrate without female activists and artists paving the way for women in filmmaking in years past.
“Our ancestors have taught us how to fight. We’re in a fight right now, so when we come together, power in numbers, power in unity,” DuVernay said. “I hope we take the energy of the room — this is very celebratory — and extend it throughout the whole year, and continue to hold hands and stand by each other.”
DuVernay’s words seemed to have empowered the crowd, which spent the rest of the night breaking off into gaggles of high-powered friends, each more talented than the next.
“Fences” star and best supporting actress nominee Viola Davis sat in the section beside the stage, surrounded by fellow nominees Cara Speller (up for animated short film), Arianne Sutner (producer of the best animated feature film nominee “Kubo and the Two Strings”) and the glittering “La La Land” star Emma Stone.
At one point, Larson was spotted kneeling on the ground in front of Davis, who didn’t leave her post the entire evening, both all smiles.
Other nominated guests included Caroline Waterlow (“OJ: Made in America”), who commented that simply having women in higher-up positions will bring more women onto the scene. Allison Schroeder (“Hidden Figures”), Joi McMillon (“Moonlight”), Mica Levi (“Jackie”) and Osnat Shurer (“Moana”) were also in attendance.
“La La Land” nominees Mildred Iatrou Morgan (for sound editing), Mary Zophres (for costume design) and Ai-Ling Lee (sound editing and mixing) took a moment to catch up and chat with “Kubo’s” Sutner, while Zoe Kravitz sat with her “Dope” co-star Kiersey Clemons.
Keegan Michael-Key seemed to have gathered a small crowd as he gesticulated in ways that suggested the comedian was telling a very funny joke.
Gaby Hoffman and Amy Landecker took a moment to pose with “Westworld’s” Angela Sarafyan. The “Transparent” stars spent much of the evening in each others’ company, often laughing while meeting fellow actresses.
Viggo Mortenson came to support his “Captain Fantastic” co-star Annalise Basso, who held court as guests came to say hello in one of the club’s reserved seating areas. Mortenson is up for best actor for his role in the film.
Many more guests sauntered about the room, which had cleared out some about an hour after the speeches. But even as they grabbed their gift bags (containing a limited edition Stella Artois chalice), many remarked on what a great party WIF threw and how happy they were to be able to gather and celebrate the many women who helped make this year’s best films possible.
(Pictured: WIF president Cathy Schulman, Brie Larson and Emma Stone)