They said the Vanity Fair party had lost its luster, that it was no longer the hottest Oscar night bash.
But I don’t know, guys. It seemed pretty cool to me.
Sure, yes, I’m just a lowly reporter who is granted access to the Hollywood bash for a precious 60 minutes. And no, you’re right: I did not receive a coveted invitation to Madonna or Jay-Z’s Oscar after-parties, which are infamously press-free.
So I get why you think I’d be awed by a fancy party attended by the likes of Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, Elton John and Ashley Olsen. (Because when’s the last time you saw an Olsen twin in the wild? Kind of a major sighting.)
But no, my friends. This year was the fourth time I was asked to cover the Vanity Fair party, and I am jaded. I do not enjoy driving from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, which I’ll admit feels like a kind of random and soulless place for this event.
I am not impressed by classy junk food like In-N-Out burgers and beignets and fried chicken. A free tube of L’Oreal lipstick from the bathroom? Please.
This year, I wanted to be wowed — particularly in the wake of the New York Times’ damning article last week about the VF party, which decried the Oscar bash is no longer a hot ticket. The magazine was so upset about the story that it disinvited a New York Times reporter from attending the party, which generated only more negative headlines.
One of the main arguments in the NYT piece was that Vanity Fair’s party is no longer cool because it has so many brand partners. The paper argued that a slew of corporate executives from companies such as Johnnie Walker and Verizon would be attending this year’s bash, leaving less room for major stars. Further, the paper said, Hollywood royalty like Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio no longer bother attending the VF party.
Which is true. I definitely did not see Angie tossin’ back a glass of champs. But I also didn’t see her at the Oscars. Because she wasn’t nominated. Or presenting.
But you know whom I did see at the Vanity Fair party? All of these people, doing these things:
Glenn Close at the center of a dance circle, surrounded by the likes of Judd Apatow, Sam Rockwell and Marisa Tomei, boogieing so hard that she actually laid down on the ground as part of her routine.
Taylor Swift and boyfriend Joe Alwyn fully chowing down on burgers, sans any security. T. Swift always has bodyguards with her at parties! I did not see them! (But maybe they were spying on me from afar.)
Jason Momoa showing off his second scrunchie of the evening. This one was tan, and made to match the blazer he was wearing to the party. He had it on his wrist, because the much-talked about pink scrunchie he’d worn to the Oscars was still holding up his man bun. He said the late Karl Lagerfeld had designed the velvet suit he wore to the ceremony entirely around that pink scrunchie.
Terry Crews gushing over how much he loved “Roma” to supporting-actress nominee Marina de Tavira. “Very few movies can take you to another place and another time,” he told her. “When those kids were in that water? It was the most nerve-racking thing for me!”
Chris Evans and Bill Maher, deep in conversation on the smoking patio, discussing something having to do with stem cells.
Newly anointed Young Hollywood heartthrob Noah Centineo chatting it up with fellow youngs Shailene Woodley and Lily Collins.
Awkwafina approaching Natalie Portman to tell her: “You’re amazing!” To which Portman replied: “No, you’re amazing!”
A shoeless Amy Adams and Richard E. Grant on the dance floor, jumping up-and-down in unison to Madonna’s “Into the Groove.”
And then there was Ava DuVernay, holding court at the party after tweeting out her support for the bash earlier in the week. She had told her followers that she was a fan of new editor Radhika Jones, who put Lena Waithe on the cover of the magazine and “invited a beautiful array of black and brown people” to the 2018 event.
“Funny how now it’s suddenly ‘lost its luster,’” the filmmaker tweeted. “Luster for some. Closed doors now open for others.”
Throughout the night, DuVernay continued to share photos of the event on her feed — writing under a snap of Diana Ross and her daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross: “That’s luster to me.”
Was the crowd younger? Yes. There was Amandla Stenberg and Cole Sprouse and Lana Condor and Rowan Blanchard. But all the big winners were there too: Gaga, Regina King, Alfonso Cuarón.
And then the kind of famous people who have no specific reason to be at an Oscars party but just are because they’re famous: Monica Lewinsky, Alex Rodriguez, Jack Dorsey and a ton of famous models such as Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner and Adriana Lima.
So, yeah. Celebrities are still into the Vanity Fair party. It’s still cool. In fact, you know how cool it is? It’s so cool that attendees are willing to subject themselves to a mortifying school pickup-esque car line outside of the party.
Imagine Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Zoe, Tika Sumpter and Lupita Nyong’o all without jackets, teetering in heels on Santa Monica Boulevard. They’re waiting for their chauffeured vehicles to arrive, huddled under heat lamps.
There are a lot of cars, so the traffic cop is trying to move things along. If a numbered vehicle shows up and its guest does not get into it within 30 seconds, that car is forced to move along. In the hopes of matching cars with guests, the traffic cop has obtained a megaphone: “Trevor Noah, your car is here!” he shouts. “Mark Hamill! Mark Hamill, for the third time, your car is here!”
That part wasn’t cool, per se. But it was democratizing. Me and Mark Hamill, just sitting on a bus bench, scrolling through Twitter while waiting for our rides. Does it get more lustrous?