Patton Oswalt’s got hilarious tips for the stars at the Oscar nominees’ luncheon


See who made the Academy’s short list for actress and actor in a leading role. USA TODAY

BEVERLY HILLS – There is no tonier crowd than the one gathered in this room.

Late Monday morning, Academy-nominated stars, directors and craftsmen gathered for the annual Oscar nominees’ luncheon, a classy, champagne-fueled affair held at the Beverly Hilton.

The meal ends with the traditional “class photo,” during which each nominee’s name is called and they stand shoulder-to-shoulder on risers. There was Meryl Streep, perfectly centered on a top riser next to Greta Gerwig, with whom she whispered while waiting for their fellow nominees to fill in the platform. There was Timothée Chalamet, at 22 the youngest nominee, stealing a selfie in the bottom row in his dark green Gucci suit.

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Nominees for the 90th Academy Awards pose for a “class photo” at the annual Oscar luncheon. (Photo: Danny Moloshok, Invision/AP)

As Laura Dern read each nominee’s name aloud, Margot Robbie and Sally Hawkins, already stacked on the risers, grinned and complimented each other’s outfits. Saorise Ronan did a little jig standing solo in the middle of a empty row, and then Willem Dafoe, one row up, joined in.

French artist and Faces Places co-director JR toted a cardboard cutout of filmmaker Agnès Varda (who at 89 is the oldest female nominee) up on the rafters. And Kobe Bryant (who was nominated for the short film Dear Basketball) towered over the crowd (and was given a chair at the front, presumably so he wouldn’t block a nominee standing behind him).

But before the Chilean sea bass and quinoa was whisked away and the last petite lemon tart and tiramisu cup was demolished, there were the speeches.

Oscar show producers typically utilize the luncheon to gently remind the crowd to keep their speeches short and meaningful on the big day. They’re aware such pleas usually fall on deaf ears, and so this year, returning producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd enlisted “an expert,” Patton Oswalt, to hand out some pointers. 

“You are probably the best people working in show business right now and they of course brought you the guy who voices the cartoon rat (in Ratatouille) to tell you how to get your Academy Award,” deadpanned Oswalt, who brought his wife of three months, Meredith Salenger, as his date. “They have spared every expense bringing me here.”

Here is Oswalt’s producer-approved guide to creating memorable Oscars moments.

1. You only get 45 seconds! Get up to the stage quickly.

“If you need something to speed you up, think of the hot murderous glares of your colleagues on your back as you’re moving up there to fuel you.”

2. No tripping.

“We’re on to you, trip and fallers. We know it’s adorable. There’s no reason to go viral doing that. Jennifer (Lawrence) owns it. That’s her thing now.”

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3. Be meaningful, be concise — and don’t pretend to be surprised.

“Don’t say you didn’t expect to win. Yes, you did! You were nominated. You worked hard. That’s why you went and got a nice tux or dress. If you go up on stage in, like, a McDonald’s giveaway shirt and cargo shorts and go, ‘I didn’t expect to win!’ I’ll go, yeah, I believe that.”

4.  And maybe don’t mention your agents and managers …

“I don’t know if you’ve paid attention to what’s been going on this past year in Hollywood. Just cover for yourself. You don’t want to explain to your grandkids why you thanked someone that Dateline just did a four-part series on.”

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Oswalt wasn’t the only one to reference the sexual harassment scandal cloaking Hollywood. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey said the industry is witnessing the Academy “reinvent itself in front of our very eyes, and a greater awareness and responsibility in balancing gender, race, ethnicity and religion.”

“The fossilized bedrock of many of Hollywood’s worst abuses are being jackhammered into oblivion,” he said to huge applause. “Nowhere is this being made clearer than in the richness and freshness of many of this year’s nominated artists and films.”

Producers De Luca and Todd will reunite with Jimmy Kimmel for the 90th Academy Awards on March 4 (ABC, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT). 

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