Oscars 2012: Rating the party scene

Oscar-party weekend is upon us, and your Night Life team is here to measure the velvet ropes. From the most exclusive and highbrow to the booze-soaked 4 a.m. ragers, the white linen and pearls to the black tie askew and tequila, here's a gauge of where — and how wild — the weekend adventures will be.

Vanity Fair

Exclusive. This annual post-show celebration, held at the Sunset Tower Hotel, is the holy grail of parties. The inner sanctum provides for the world's best people-watching, and even the most casual of party conversation could affect the film industry or global economy. But most will never know. Security is airtight, from the checkpoints leading up to the hotel, right to the terrace door. This year expect editor in chief Graydon Carter to welcome the night's potential winners such as Meryl Streep, George Clooney and the "Help" stars, as well as royalty like Jackie Collins and media players including Anderson Cooper and many, many more.

Elton John AIDS Foundation

Rowdy. While Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, nobly put together this viewing and after-party in the name of AIDS research, the Elton bash is always just delicious. Lush color schemes, a damn good meal, star performers (this year: Foster the People) make for a glamorous night, but the good stuff happens in dark corners and crowded bars at the constructed space outside the Pacific Design Center. This year expect "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler and Heidi Klum. Word has it that Elton and David's 14-month-old son Zachary will make an appearance.

Maxim magazine

The Freshman. Count this as the other Oscar-night magazine party, as lad-mag Maxim tries to enter the pedigreed awards event space with a rager slated to go until 4 a.m. Monday. With the help of Ford Mustang, a private house in the hills will presumably welcome celebs and feature a performance by rapper Ludacris. We can guarantee a wild time, but let's see if this one has staying power.

The Weinstein Co.

Cool factor. Always a pageant of devotees to film mogul Harvey Weinstein, the production company's events are usually a must-attend for actors, musicians, agents and anyone who can manage an invite. Sunday evening will see TWC hoping to toast many big wins with its casts from"The Artist" and"The Iron Lady." But the hottest Harvey bash is always Saturday's night-before fete, held at the members-only Soho House in West Hollywood. Expect any A-lister in town to drop by for Grey Goose cocktails and shoptalk on the eve of the big show.

Women in Film

Chic swag. This civilized little cocktail party Friday will be a far cry from the wild romps of Sunday, but it has two key elements to help sell it as a must-attend: Gwyneth Paltrow and a great gift bag. Women in Film will honor the year's lady Oscar nominees by shutting down Italian eatery Cecconi's, with Paltrow and producer Cathy Schulman as hostesses. Amanda Knight, of the esteemed "Harry Potter" makeup team, has personally curated MAC products for guests, in addition to a mini bottle of champagne and a complimentary spin class at West Hollywood's Soul Cycle. Our reaction to those take-aways would be "Score!" but let us not forget these are proper ladies we're talking about.


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