At the Vanity Fair Oscar party, Michelle Yeoh makes a grand entrance


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The security guard vying for a heavy backup at metal detectors has a bold proposition: “Does anyone want to skip the red carpet?”

Silence. Not a single raised eyebrow. And it wasn’t (only) because of the Botox.

No, Pedro Pascal stays where he is, taking a break from battling a plague of cordyceps, looking virtually unrecognizable in thick dark glasses and chatting excitedly with Regé-Jean Page. Mia Goth? Planted as firm as a tree in plunging black silk. The whole point of going to Vanity Fair’s Oscars party, if you’re one of the lucky celebrities to make The List, after all, is to doll yourself up in your slinkiest or most outrageous fare and d to obtain photographic evidence that you were one of the Chosen. If Olivia Wilde puts on a half dress and a bikini top but no camera captures it, has that even happened? This annual party is so star-studded that of the approximately 50 people patiently lining up, only one didn’t feel famous enough to rush across grass and camera cables to get around the carpet. (Yeah. That would be us.)

“Hugh! Hughes! STOP!” people shout in flashes, with such fervor it’s like they’re trying to stop him from getting in front of a bus. Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell go by so fast they almost collide with Cardi B, who wrapped her face in red chiffon.”Someone’s hiding from me,” says Melanie Lynskey, clinging to a friend’s arm, perhaps feeling a little too exposed after a parade of confident cleavage for photographers.

Like the Oscars this year, there was something warmer and lower than usual about this star-studded after-party. Of course, there was Kate Hudson rocking a wide couch with her gigantic fuchsia ruffled sleeves, and Tracee Ellis Ross looking like she stepped off the Titanic in a white Balmain saucer hat she never took off, no matter how many faces he nearly hit. But most of the time, everyone was stuffing their faces with In-N-Out burgers. There was 73-year-old Bill Nighy, kneeling as if paying homage to Steven Spielberg, who sat on a bench next to Tony Kushner and tore up some meat and cheese. Oh wait, Michelle Williams is trying to get our attention! — ah, no, she’s just telling her husband where the waiter has the cheeseburgers.

There is no shortage of unexpected couples. Laverne Cox in a skintight black dress towers at least a foot above a very boyfriend Andrew Garfield, in an oversized pencil red jacket that makes him look even more shrunken, and they have so much to talk about.

“I don’t think Andrew will mind me saying this, but he’s obsessed with ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race,’ and that’s what we first bonded over,” Cox said. She’s feeling a little weird about it, her first Hollywood party since the pandemic, and Garfield was a friendly face.

“I haven’t had covid yet, so I’m kinda freaking out,” Cox says. “Tonight is probably my night.”

We need some fresh air, but we’re blocked by a giant orange-embroidered train that we reassemble to Sharon Stone, who gives Usher a big hug and says it’s been so long. This makes total sense because all famous people are friends with each other; it is a known fact. On a bench, Patricia Clarkson planted roots and stayed put all night, letting everyone come to her – a true queen of ambition.

Ava DuVernay is a filmmaker who can’t stop working, not even at a party, so she organizes an all-black group photo here, sending friends over to wave at the portrait studio. Jeremy Pope gathers Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors on the terrace. “I’m the best DA you’ll find!” I’ve got this!” said Tiffany Haddish, who cut her hair and scrunched it into silent movie star finger waves. Kerry Washington, Teyana Taylor, Tessa Thompson, you’re in too. Queen Latifah and Shonda Rhimes are recruited from outside a confab so intense that we imagined they might plan a TV show together. The exodus is almost total as about twenty black luminaries disappear from the party and behind a curtain near the entrance. Donald Glover runs down the hall, then Idris Elba, responding to DuVernay’s bat signal. She tries to recreate a portrait from 2018 that went viral, but the result is that she seems to have sucked in all the people of color from the party – or created a very convenient way for them to escape to shindig Jay-Z and Beyoncé cast at Chateau Marmontfor once they have disappeared behind that curtain, very few return to the party.

The POC Quotient Doesn’t Reboot Until The “Everything Everywhere All At Once” Gang Shows Up With all their Oscars. The Daniels have so many that Daniel Kwan’s mother, June, his wife, Kirsten Lepore, and actor Harry Shum Jr. have been assigned to wear one each.

“It’s very heavy,” says June, who is on a mission to figure out why people love her son’s film so much. “If you read the comment, it makes a lot of sense,” she says. “I just think it’s a movie for young people.”

Kwan quickly tells us the story of his “Punk” embroidered jacket on the back. It’s an homage to the cardigan that Michelle Yeoh wears in the scene where she brings a google-eyed baseball bat to her laundromat window. The cardigan was a random Chinatown find, but the jacket is custom made by an Asian-American clothing company in Los Angeles called Goodfight. “They reached out before we were even nominated and said, ‘Hey, we want to make…a costume out of you,'” Kwan said. “They didn’t even know we were going to the Oscars. They were just hedging their bets.

Michael B. Jordan (still there!) rushes over to give a warm congratulations to each member of Kwan’s family, then takes a selfie with Kwan’s mom. But across the room, another set of flash bulbs explode. Michelle Yeoh entered the party like a gravitational force. Heads turn to see what’s going on, then more heads turn to see why those heads are turning, and suddenly even In-N-Out catering servers are flocking to his corner. Shortly after, Ke Huy Quan drops down beside him, but within half a minute he gets up and jumps up and down because…he just spotted Jimmy Kimmel? Sir, you have just won an Oscar. Quan’s whole family is crawling, like it’s 1964 and Kimmel is a Beatle. Everyone takes a selfie with him. For what? “Because I love her,” Quan said. “When our movie came out, he was the first person to let me on his show. I’ll never forget him for as long as I live. And how is the new Oscar winner feeling now?

“I’ll see what happens when I wake up tomorrow,” he said. “Maybe it was all just a dream.”

Brendan Fraser walks in and is mobbed by fans. Looks like he might cry, again, this time as a tired dad who stayed in town long after bedtime because his teenage sons still haven’t had enough. And there’s one they want to meet more than all the others. Fraser waves her Oscar to Billie Eilish, who swapped the four or so black camping tents she wore on the red carpet for a simple black suit. No answer. Fraser gets closer and closer until he waves the Oscar right in front of his nose. Eilish finally notices and jumps back laughing, then runs forward and hugs Fraser and his entire family.

“It’s nice to feel useful as a dad,” says the Best Actor winner. It’s surreal to be at a party like this. “The last time I was at the Oscars was in 2005.” So, could he see himself coming to many more of them in the future? “So far I’m fine.”

Over there, on the side, Simona Tabasco – Lucia from “The White Lotus” – speaks frantically Italian into her phone. “Dove?” she said as she scanned the room. “Dove?!” (translation: “Where? Where?!”) Finally, she finds her own, rushing into the arms of her co-stars on the show, Beatrice Grannò and Adam DiMarco.

Noah Centineo, sporting a mustache, shoots us with pistols and dances up to us to the beat of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” before realizing he doesn’t know us and just as softly smiles, waves and dance.

It’s a great night for crackpots, said John Waters, who would know. The Baltimore cult filmmaker is a voting member of the Academy, PGA and WGA. “I vote for all of them, even the Razzie Awards,” he says, referring to the awards given to the worst films of the year. He is delighted that something as original and inventive as the EEAAO has found so many fans. So he voted for? Waters hesitates.

“I never say that because there are movies I like and movies I hate, and I sit next to people at dinner parties. I learned that a long time ago,” says But you may have noticed that absolutely nothing that was nominated for an Oscar made it into the top 10 films of the year he published in Artforum – except for the best nominated for a foreign film “EO”, a Polish film set from the point of view of a donkey. “This is the film I was looking for. It’s the movie of the year,” says Waters. “The donkeys are incredible, and also Isabelle Huppert is in it, the best actress in the world.”

The night is drawing to a close and star power is draining from the room. There are more and more exclusive parties to be had – Madonna’s, Jay-Z’s – and soon there will be more Oscars at the party than actual celebrities. Alan Cumming is one of the last celebrities standing, hanging out under a heat lamp in a shiny silver suit. “It’s crazy,” he says of the party. “I’m such a geezer and I walk around and there’s just all these people and I don’t know who they are, but they know me,” he says. “They’re all very famous and they all think I’m awesome because they saw me in ‘Spy Kids’ when they were kids. And it’s an interesting thing where I’m a part of their life and now they’re adults.

Who exactly are the people who know him? “Everyone here,” he says, and turns to the younger person closest to him. “Spy children?” he asks a redheaded Megan Fox.

“I am 36 years old !” laughed Fox. “I’m not a baby. Alain, I know who you are! (Personal note: Check out Megan Fox’s skincare routine.)

Determined, he tries again, this time with singer Dove Cameron, 27, and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” actress Lana Condor, 25.

“Yes yes!” they answer.

Our feet hurt too much to stay another minute. We pass the stand that offers Rothy’s apartments for free, and walk five blocks to catch an Uber that doesn’t cost $75, and go to bed.

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