Spike Lee didn't even try to hide it: He was upset that “Green Book” won best picture. As soon as Julia Roberts announced the Academy Award winner, Lee jumped from his seat and walked down the aisle toward the exit, gesticulating wildly and visibly angry.
But by the time he had made it to the Governors Ball after-party about an hour later, he had gotten a few glasses of champagne in him and seemed to be in higher spirits. Clutching his Oscar for adapted screenplay, his first competitive win for an Academy Award, he walked into the party and immediately ran into Ryan Coogler.
The "Black Panther" director congratulated Lee on his Oscar, mentioning how much he'd admired him over the years. "But you're the future, man!" Lee responded. "I'm 61! 61!"
Lee was then whisked to a booth where Barbra Streisand was sitting, flanked by numerous security guards stationed to make sure no one took a photo of her unless she allowed with her explicit permission.
Lee and Streisand — the latter of whom apparently contacted the academy to request she introduce "BlacKkKlansman," her favorite movie of the year — huddled close for about 20 minutes as he downed a glass of champagne and kissed her hand repeatedly. She admired his Love/Hate gold knuckle rings and asked to hold his Oscar for a joint photo.
"Vanity Fair! Vanity Fair!" he suddenly said, jumping up and suggesting his posse move on to the next party. But he needed to make his way to the Oscar engraving station first — especially since he was heading to Thailand on Monday morning to start a film about Vietnam with Chadwick Boseman.
He told a reporter that he was surprised to hear his "Green Book" reaction was the talk of Twitter — "what are they saying?" — but when asked what he didn't like about the film, he initially demurred.
"You know what, let me just give you a hug instead," he suggested.
Pressed further, he said he was upset with the decision but had "no choice" but to accept it.
“I mean, if the academy overturned it,” he said. “But it's not like you go to the videotape and look in the booth and change the call. I can't change the call.
“I'll celebrate this,” he added, looking at his Oscar. “And I got to meet Barbra Streisand for the first time. Brooklyn's finest.” — Amy Kaufman
Such are the star-studded encounters at the Governors Ball, one of a handful of dazzling after-parties that bookended Sunday’s Academy Awards.
And while this was the 91st annual ceremony, it marked the 25th year that Wolfgang Puck catered the Governors Ball soiree, which was held in the Ray Dolby Ballroom after the Oscars. Even for this celebrity chef, serving 1,500 guests is no small feat. Party-goers are ravenous because they had been nibbling only on potato chips, popcorn, chocolate chip cookies and bar mix throughout the three-hour-plus awards show.
Throngs of guests started flowing into the ballroom for dinner even before 8:15 p.m., about when the producers and the cast of "Green Book" were on stage accepting their award in the Dolby Theatre next door.
This is no backyard barbeque. The academy spares no expense for its after-party. The organization's most recently available financial reports peg the price of the gala at about $2 million. That includes the venue, security, servers, decorations (purple orchids and red ruffled tulips), entertainment and plenty of food.
Streisand, fashionable in her black beret, was prominently near the center of the room. Sitting next to her husband, James Brolin, the singer dug into small baked potatoes wrapped in gold-colored foil, topped with a dollop of sour cream and caviar.
She also polished off a mini chicken pot pie, which seemed to be among the most popular dishes at the event, along with Puck's truffle-topped helping of macaroni and cheese.
“Yes, the chicken pot pies are doing well, and the quail too,” Puck told The Times.
Alcohol flowed. Tequila Don Julio Blanco was used to create two cocktails: the Colomba, with blood orange, port, amaro and sparkling wine; and the Rosella, made with the tequila, blanco vermouth, lavender, Fever Tree ginger beer and hibiscus flowers. The wine selection came from Francis Ford Coppola Winery, including 91st Oscars Russian River Valley Chardonnay. And Piper-Heidsieck provided the champagne, Curvee Brut.
Michael B. Jordan, star of “Black Panther,” greeted a steady stream of well-wishers in a section of the room reserved for productions under the Walt Disney Studios banner. Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger congratulated Hannah Beachler, in a majestic poppy red gown. She made history as the first African American to win production design for her work on “Black Panther” and was one of the most ebullient at the Governors Ball.
Nearby, famed U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) celebrated with the “Green Book” team. The civil rights champion introduced the film an hour or so earlier during the awards ceremony.
Olivia Colman, still beaming from her upset win for lead actress, sat with friends at a long table reserved for Fox Searchlight. Oscar winners proudly showed off their newly acquired hardware.
Across the room, Keegan-Michael Key sat at a table. In one of the most impressive performances during the ceremony, Key descended from the rafters of the Dolby Theatre on a cable, a la Mary Poppins.
“It was a blast,” Key said. “I was more worried about my umbrella not working.”
Comedy Central star Trevor Noah, who introduced “Black Panther” during the ceremony, acknowledged that he had a case of pre-performance jitters. “But when you get out there you just have to do it,” he said.
Questlove, the Roots drummer who recently joined the academy, was the featured DJ. And about 50 people danced on a small rectangular dance floor branded with the academy’s insignia.
Tennis champion Serena Williams, who introduced “A Star Is Born,” disappeared into the crowd. Queen guitarist Brian May, with his gray mop-top, and his female companion bid their goodbyes and ducked out a little before 10 p.m. Sam Elliott, who had been nominated for his performance in “A Star is Born,” was the featured attraction at the Warner Bros. table.
Corporate brass was well represented, including: Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios; Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Jen Salke, head of Amazon Studios; and soon-to-be head of ABC television networks, Dana Walden. It was a particularly good night for Disney and 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight, which Disney plans to acquire as soon as next month. — Meg James
Richard E. Grant had big plans for his first face-to-face meeting with Streisand. He had been thinking about the potential encounter for at least a month, when he first tweeted out a fan letter he'd written to the singer 47 years ago, when he was 14.
To his surprise, Streisand responded to his tweet, telling him she'd loved his “terrific” performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” And so on the red carpet on Sunday, Grant joked with reporters that he was planning to propose marriage to Streisand should he meet her inside the ceremony.
Alas, no proposals took place, but Grant did get to meet his hero at the Oscars. The first encounter came earlier in the night, when, “like a heat-seeking missile,” his costar Melissa McCarthy located Streisand and made an introduction.
But the more substantive conversation between Grant and Streisand came at the Governors Ball, where he spotted the performer chatting with "BlacKkKlansman" director Spike Lee, who has become his awards-season buddy.
“I just jumped into the middle of their conversation,” he said gleefully, moments after walking away from the chat inside the party. “They're both from Brooklyn. We were talking about Brooklyn and coming from nowhere and getting up to Oscars tonight. They've won 'em. I'm a nominee."