For the first time since 2016, Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominations were broadcast not only to viewers at home but also several hundred press and publicists at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theatre.
The in-person ceremony has been a longstanding tradition — dating back 40 years to when guests would share the nominations news via the building’s landline phones — but has been scrapped in recent years. With a livestream and broadcast feed now widely available, such urgency is no longer needed, but many still welcomed back the opportunity to watch the announcement in the room.
With nominations beginning at 5:30 a.m. PT, press check-in started at midnight and continued until 4:45 a.m., eliciting many grumbles about the before-the-sun call time. Breakfast was served starting at 2:45 a.m., as talent, studio and awards publicists slowly trickled in and mingled with members of the press. Unlike some recent awards season events, guests were not COVID-tested nor required to show proof of vaccination, but some chose to remain masked.
As the ceremony neared, the theater lobby quickly filled up, with one publicist noting, “This is crazy. I didn’t know there were going to be this many people.” It was the first in-person Oscar announcement for many, though a photographer acknowledged, “This feels like old times.” Attendees were allowed into the theater at 5 a.m., where broadcast reporters started filming their standup intros in aisles and many went up to the stage to pose with the giant Oscar statues. With the screen counting down the seconds until the announcement went live, nervous energy quickly filled the room with publicists awaiting news on their clients, as one joked, “Many will enter, few will win.”
Academy chief communications officer Jennifer Davidson kicked things off with a welcome, followed by an intro from Academy president Janet Yang, who brought announcement hosts Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams to the stage.
The two got the first half of the nominations going quickly, and it was clear immediately of the room’s overwhelming support of Everything Everywhere All At Once — Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan’s nods got big reactions, and some of the on-hand content creators (there to provide social support for the Academy) even sported the film’s hot dog fingers.
Angela Bassett’s nomination also sparked much applause, and Brian Tyree Henry’s surprise supporting actor nod caused gasps throughout the room. Laughter broke out when Ahmed had to read back-to-back animated short film nominees My Year of Dicks and An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It, as Williams let it hang in the air before adding, “No comment.”
The pair paused for a few minutes for the second half of nominations, as Williams joked to the crowd, “We’re not fired yet” and danced at the podium to the intermission music. With the remaining categories, the crowd gave big reactions to the nominations of RRR song “Naatu Naatu,” Triangle of Sadness director Ruben Östlund, Women Talking for best picture, and Aftersun‘s Paul Mescal sneaking into best actor.
The biggest shock of the morning, though, was in the best actress category, with Ana de Armas (Blonde) and, in particular, Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie) eliciting stunned reactions from the room.
With the final categories, Ahmed and Williams blew Yang kisses and departed the stage, as publicists mingled to discuss and call their teams, leaving with promises to “see you at the big show.”