For years, the annual Oscar nominees luncheon photo has followed a very strict blueprint. Every single person nominated for an award, be they cast or crew, attends a meal together. Afterwards, they are manhandled willy-nilly into an unflattering multi-tiered crescent next to curtains of nondescript colour so someone can take their picture from afar. Think of it as a wedding picture for people better than you.
But this year things changed. The Oscar nominees luncheon photo for 2020 has taken place in an empty white vortex. It’s still an incredibly unflattering photograph, but it has the additional benefit of making the attendees look like they’ve just died and emerged blinking into the afterlife. Here, as usual, are this year’s winners:
Thirstiest dresser: Sami Khan
Even if he’s unsuccessful on Oscar night, documentary director Khan deserves credit for understanding the dynamics of a group photo. This is the Oscars, so he knows his competitors will mostly be grey-haired middle-aged men in dark suits. By going so red, with such commitment, he deserves our respect.
(Main picture: third row, second from left)
Most fearless diner: Todd Phillips
Much was made of the primarily plant-based menu served at the luncheon. The nominees ate roasted maitake mushroom mixed with forbidden black rice, winter squash, cauliflower and red curry. And yet Todd Phillips turned up in a white suit. He spent the entire meal teetering precariously on the edge of a catastrophic curry spill that would have ruined his photo forever. And yet he did it anyway. How brave. How edgy.
(Main picture: sixth row, sixth from left)
Most upsettingly stubby legs: Al Pacino
Let’s do the honourable thing and blame the photographer for this. Pacino is out in front, on his feet, staring up at a photographer positioned far above him, which isn’t a flattering place to be for anyone. But, for someone of relatively diminutive stature, it makes you look a bit like a little boy in his dad’s clothes asking for sweets. Sorry Al.
(Main picture: second row, centre)
Most in need of an immediate buddy road movie: Kathy Bates and Sandy Powell
Be honest. This was where your eye was drawn first. Among all the conservative respect-clothing of the other diners, Bates and Powell stand out like a sore thumb. They’re having a great time. They look like they’re about four margaritas in already. We need to see a film where Kathy Bates and Sandy Powell get trashed in Vegas, and it needs to be good enough for them both to be invited back next year.
(Main picture: third row, 12th from right)
Weirdest display of companionship: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
This is very sweet. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are married, and nominated for the songs they wrote together for Frozen II. They’ve been married since 2003, which is a lifetime in Hollywood terms. And yet apparently they do not know how to hold hands. How does this even work? They both look like they were doing individual bicep curls, and awkwardly attempted to join them together at the top. It’s weird. I’m frightened.
(Main picture: fifth row, centre)
Most eager to fill your car with petrol: Quentin Tarantino
Most people at the luncheon understood the dress code and stuck to it no matter what. Others found clever ways to subvert it, maybe by forgoing a tie. But Quentin Tarantino cares so little about rules that he rocked up in something that made him look like he came fifth in a semi-professional 10-pin bowling league in 1958. No wonder Robert De Niro can’t make eye contact with him.
(Main picture: fourth row, seventh from left)
Sneakiest baseball cap: Bryan Buckley
The most ostentatious luncheon attendees are always the ones who opt for unconventional hats. Buckley gives off the look of someone who went to the event in a baseball cap as a surly “screw you” to the comfortable formality of the Academy, only to bottle it in front of his heroes by turning it around and pushing it all the way up to the top of his head where nobody could see it. But we can see it. Oh, we can see it.
(Main picture: fifth row, second from left)
Most aggressive septuagenarian: Randy Newman
Randy Newman has been nominated for more Oscars than you could even count. He’s done this before, countless times. This might be why he appears to be asking the photographer to step outside for a fight.
(Main picture: fourth row, third from left)