Exclusive: Photos of the best Oscars backstage moments

Amy Poehler, Regina King, Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey backstage at the 91st Academy Awards.
2019 - Amy Poehler, Regina King, Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey backstage at the 91st Academy Awards.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)
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As a photojournalist at the Los Angeles Times, I’ve had the honor to cover the Oscars from every vantage point throughout my 37 year career. The last 16 years, my focus has been photographing the red carpet and backstage during the Academy Awards ceremony.

The small space backstage allows for only a few photographers selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be present each year. This is the same for the red carpet event before the ceremony.

Despite being well documented by hundreds of media from around the globe, only a few photographers are allowed to walk on the red carpet amid the nominees and presenters.

2019: Rami Malek reacts after winning the lead actor award for "Bohemian Rhapsody."
2019: Rami Malek reacts after winning the lead actor award for “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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The Academy Awards season is a time to celebrate achievement for these people at the top of their craft in the motion picture arts and sciences; but, it is also a time for reunion for the people who work in film.

Al Seib

2006: Amy Adams, left, and Michelle Williams meet on the red carpet
2006: Amy Adams, left, and Michelle Williams meet on the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre).
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Oscars Red Carpet
2019: Trevor Noah, from top, takes a selfie during red carpet arrivals; 2010: Sandra Bullock and Helen Mirren; 2016: Sylvester Stallone greets Cate Blanchett; 2018: Elisabeth Moss, far right, takes a selfie with other red carpet attendees; 2017: Taraji P. Henson and Jackie Chan; 2006: Nicole Kidman; 2008: Heidi Klum; 2014: Cate Blanchett playfully tries to take a satchel with the night’s award envelopes from PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant Brian Cullinan.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

This is often where the celebrities greet each other with great emotion, so I’m looking for those intimate moments.

Al Seib

2005: Prince arrives at the Kodak Theatre with Manuela Testolini
2005: Prince and Manuela Testolini arrive at the Kodak Theatre.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Meryl Streep waves to fans behind velvet rope on the red carpet
2012: Meryl Streep delights fans with a wave from the red carpet.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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2020: Regina King arrives at the Dolby Theatre
2020 : Regina King takes her turn on the red carpet.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

I’m looking for the perspective that no one sees during the show. When winners come through the curtains backstage clutching their Oscar statuette they let their emotions flow. There is jubilation, crying and a lot of hugging.

Al Seib

2007: Jennifer Hudson is open-mouthed in excitement exiting the stage with her supporting actress Oscar
2007: Jennifer Hudson exits the stage with her supporting actress Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2018: Allison Janney beams with joy while showing off her Oscar and "the envelope, please."
2018: Allison Janney beams backstage after receiving the supporting actress Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2008: Forest Whitaker and Marion Cotillard embrace backstage
2008: Forest Whitaker and Marion Cotillard embrace backstage.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2009: Kate Winslet double-checks the result after her win for lead  actress
2009: Kate Winslet double-checks the result after her lead actress win for “The Reader.”
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2020: Jane Fonda caresses the face of Joaquin Phoenix, who won the lead actor Oscar for “Joker,” backstage with Olivia Colman
2020: A teary-eyed Joaquin Phoenix, winner of the lead actor Oscar for “Joker,” backstage with Olivia Colman, center, and Jane Fonda.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2019: Alfonso Cuarón clowns with Angela Bassett
2019: Alfonso Cuarón clowns with Angela Bassett backstage after winning the foreign language film Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2018: Kobe Bryant admires his statue after winning the animated short film Oscar with Glen Kean, right, for "Dear Basketball"
2018: Kobe Bryant after winning the animated short film Oscar with Glen Kean, right, for “Dear Basketball.”
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Each year lends itself to surprises. In 2014, host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for the audience with an actual pizza delivery person dropping off the pies.

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In 2015, host Neil Patrick Harris took the stage in his underwear.

2014: Host Ellen DeGeneres hands out pizza to Meryl Streep, who then takes a bite
2014: Host Ellen DeGeneres hands out pizza she ordered from backstage to Meryl Streep, who takes a bite.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2015: Neil Patrick Harris heads onstage in his tighty whities
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2015: Neil Patrick Harris walks onstage in his underwear
2015: Host Neil Patrick Harris makes sure everything is in place walking onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre in his underwear.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In 2017 the audience was shocked at the mixup announcement for best picture where “La La Land” was mistakenly read aloud as receiving the prestigious award, whereas the film “Moonlight” was the actual winner.

2017: The audience was stunned after "La La Land" was discovered to be read by mistake as best picture winner.
2017: Audience members were stunned after “La La Land” was discovered to have been announced by mistake as winner of the best picture Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2017: Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome share an emotional embrace backstage
2017: After order was restored, Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome of the actual best picture winner, “Moonlight,” shared an emotional embrace backstage.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

As a photojournalist, I don’t direct the talent. The moments are genuine as I strive to photograph their celebration in an intimate, personable way while documenting history.

Al Seib

2012: Octavia Spencer accepts her supporting actress Oscar
2012: Octavia Spencer accepts her supporting actress Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2020: Renée Zellweger accepts her lead actress Oscar
2020: Renée Zellweger accepts her lead actress Oscar, presented by Rami Malek, left.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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2012: Jean Dujardin kisses Uggie, his canine co-star in "The Artist"
2012: Jean Dujardin kisses Uggie, his canine co-star in “The Artist,” after winning the lead actor Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2012: Sandra Bullock waits with a tuxedoed stage assistant before going onstage
2012: Sandra Bullock waits to be introduced to go onstage.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2010: Jeff Bridges gets a kiss from Michelle Pfeiffer
2010: Jeff Bridges backstage with Michelle Pfeiffer after winning the lead actor Oscar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2019: Exultant Jaime Ray Newman leaves the stage after winning the short film Academy Award
2019: Jaime Ray Newman leaves the stage with her crew after winning the Academy Award for short film.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

I photograph the building and blocking of the stage sets, red carpet and rehearsals of the show that people normally don’t get to see.

Al Seib

2006: Dolly Parton sings surrounded by background vocalists during Oscars rehearsal
2006: Dolly Parton sings surrounded by background vocalists during Oscars rehearsal at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
2006: Host Jon Stewart is interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres for a segment on her show on the Tuesday before the Oscars.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Scenic artist Dena D’Angelo dries freshly painted Oscar statues
2020 - Scenic artist Dena D’Angelo dries freshly painted Oscar statues as preparations continue for the 92nd Oscars ceremony at the Dolby Theatre February 9.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)