This year’s Oscar hopefuls descended on the Beverly Hilton on Monday for the annual Nominees Luncheon, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Before enjoying a lunch at the hotel’s pool, some of the more than 150 nominees in attendance talked with the press about their nominations.
From Leonardo DiCaprio to Matthew McConaughey, the best actor category was well-represented at the event.
McConaughey, nominated for his role as an AIDS activist in “Dallas Buyers Club,” said he was surprised the film received six nominations and assured everyone he’d be celebrating after the award show win or lose.
McConaughey’s co-star Jared Leto was also on hand and took the time to explain why he has been so vocal about the support of his mother throughout this awards season.
“We were born very poor, into pretty humble surroundings, and my mother always wanted to do something better for her life, better for her children,” Leto said. “The biggest lessons she taught me were to dream and then to do the work that it takes to make that dream reality.”
DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, nominated for best actor and best supporting actor respectively, represented “The Wolf of Wall Street” with DiCaprio explaining that the film’s debauchery was meant to be a cautionary tale.
After their work on “Wall Street,” Hill said the co-stars wanted another chance to work together and they now plan to do so in the film about Richard Jewell, a police officer who came under the spotlight because of his connection to the Centennial Olympic Park bombings at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
“We were both so moved by it,” Hill said of the Jewell script. “It was something we both felt we had to do and I’m beyond excited for it.”
What Hill is not looking forward to is writing his acceptance speech.
“The possibility of winning is so insane to me that it seems almost indulgent to write a speech,” Hill said. “But I guess I should for the one-in-a-billionth chance it happens just so I don’t look stupid.”
Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock, all nominated in the best actress category, were also in attendance.
While Adams discussed what she’ll be wearing on the red carpet — something less “costume-like” and more true to her own style — Bullock told reporters that working on “Gravity” was the best filming experience she’s had.
“It was probably one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had,” Bullock said. “I was very familiar with Alfonso’s work; I had watched him for so many years and always longed to work with him. I trusted him 100 percent because you had the body of his work as proof. … We didn’t know what we were making really and it was unknown territory.”
June Squibb, best supporting actress nominee for her role in “Nebraska,” said being at the luncheon to celebrate with the other nominees made her feel like she was part of a community.
Squibb also discussed what it was like working with director Alexander Payne.
“He makes good films but he’s a director who knows how an actor works and that’s a joy for an actor,” Squibb said.
Payne, who’s nominated for best director, later said that about half of the speaking roles in the film were done by non-actors, instead they were residents of rural Nebraska and Iowa.
Payne said he was drawn to the film because of the script’s deadpan humor and the depth and kindness that the film portrayed. But also, he was drawn to the film because of his own relationship with his aging parents.
Also in attendance was first-time nominee Lupita Nyong’o, who is nominated for best actress in a supporting role for “12 Years a Slave.” She said she didn’t expect any of this recognition and she never could have dreamt she’d be nominated for an Oscar.
But despite her success with “12 Years,” the 30-year-old Kenyan actress is not sure what affect it will have on her career.
“It’s a recognition at the highest; everybody regards the Oscars as the ultimate stamp of approval,” Nyong’o explained. “So I don’t know. I guess we’ll see.”
The 86th Annual Academy Awards are 4 p.m. Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and will air live on ABC.