Oscars 2015: Inside the nominations announcement

What was it like to be at the Oscar nominations?

On screen, Thursday's Oscar nominations played out as a brief, polished affair, airing for just a few moments before segueing into regularly scheduled programming with pundits hypothesizing about the potential winners of this year's 87th Academy Awards.

But inside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood's highest-profile morning had started before midnight with setup, rehearsals and a lavish middle-of-the-night breakfast. The spread attracted a flurry of journalists and publicists who converged in Beverly Hills to hear this year's nominations in person.

Ahead of the festivities, organizers laid out a breakfast of turkey sausage, spinach and mushroom strata with brioche, waffles and cereal and coffee bars. An open bar wasn't too far out of sight for the bleary-eyed journalists and publicists who arrived around 3:30 a.m.

Oscars 2015: List | Top nominees | Reactions | Announcements | Live updates | Full coverage

Imagine what time they had to set their alarms for. Then, be grateful it wasn't you.

At 4 a.m., a hushed Wilshire Boulevard didn't hint at a groundbreaking day in the film industry, but the crowded lobby of the academy said otherwise. By 5 a.m., more then 400 media representatives had made their way into the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in waves, taking their spots on red velvety seats or in pre-assigned aisle positions to get a shot of the stage.

"Into the Woods" star Chris Pine, academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron lent their mornings to announce the nominees.

Veteran Oscars telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron called Thursday's announcement "historic" and thanked Pine, Boone Isaacs, Abrams and Cuaron for hosting. Then they greeted theater-goers by sharing a sneak peek of Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris' upcoming TV spot, which aired on ABC later that morning.

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"Anything can happen. Anything," a tuxedo-clad Harris promised in footage that rolled 15 minutes before the announcements.

And anything did happen at the nominations.

The academy broke with tradition this year and announced the contenders in all 24 categories, breaking the news in two rounds of announcements that kicked off at 5:30 a.m. In the past, not all categories made the cut for the early morning live announcement and nominees in those categories were publicized by other means.

"I think it went great," academy chief executive Dawn Hudson told The Times. "I'm especially proud of our announcing all 24 categories. We'd actually thought about it for many years and we couldn't figure out how to get it on television and our producers Craig and Neil really just came up with this concept with announcing some of the categories earlier, having these two great directors.

"Timing is everything, and this year was the right time for it -- the right idea at the right time, especially because it fits our mission to really highlight all the arts of filmmaking."

Oscars 2015: List | Top nominees | Reactions | Announcements | Live updates | Full coverage

"Everything Is Awesome," the original song nominee from "The Lego Movie," was the first nomination announced and earned a "woo" of approval from audience members. Surprisingly, the film, which was considered a shoo-in, was shut out of the animated feature category.

Boone Isaacs' unfortunate mispronunciation of "Mr. Turner" cinematographer Dick Pope's name earned a a quick chuckle from the media (and Twitter) just as the president promptly fixed her slip of the tongue and moved on to the remainder of the nominees.

Meanwhile, Abrams seemed pleased with his French enunciation of the live-action short nominee "Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)," and Pine got a laugh from the theater after Alexandre Desplat's dual nominations for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Imitation Game" in the original score category.

A few other nominees -- animated feature film "Song of the Sea," "Two Days One Night" star Marion Cotillard and "American Sniper's" Bradley Cooper -- received the biggest yelps from publicists, who lined the back of the theater behind the tangle of press and photographers.

Pine and the directors promptly left after their duties, but Boone Isaacs, Meron and Zadan stuck around to take part in the media scrum, live shots and press interviews.

The producers voiced their excitement about Harris serving as this year's host for the first time, joking that the "How I Met Your Mother" star had dropped hints that he wanted to host and had been standing by for their call.

Boone Isaacs later spoke about the acting categories' lack of diversity, which was one of the larger takeaways from the crop of nominees.

"This was such a terrific year -- very competitive with a lot of great work that was done this year," she said. "And we're very proud of all the work that has been done. Because of the competitiveness, you're not exactly sure how the five names are going to come up. But I think what is important -- what we cannot lose sight of -- is the fact that the discussion of motion pictures and filmmaking has gotten broader and we are very happy to be involved in that discussion.

"We are very active about increasing diversity throughout the academy and recognition of talent and it will increase. We're very much dedicated to that."

She added that she was "absolutely" optimistic that diversity would increase in the future.

"It has grown and it will continue to grow whether it's domestic or international and that's really the good news," she said. "I think that there just is a lot of talent in the world, and I feel that whether it's an Academy Award nomination, whether it is part of a discussion about motion pictures, of audience acceptance of different stories is what's key and important and I think that is going to grow year in and year out."

The 87th Academy Awards will take place Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The show will air on ABC.

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.

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