After filing my various stories, I repaired to the Governor's Ball, where Pink Martini brought a welcome zest to the black-tie affair. At the tables decorated with cut-glass lamps and red roses, the winners and losers were chowing down on Wolfgang Puck's lobster, macaroni and cheese, and baked potatoes and caviar.
Academy executive director Bruce Davis was elated that the show ran only three hours, 20 minutes. The swift pace enabled Gil Cates to bring Once songwriter Marketa Irglova back for her acceptance speech. "That's when you know the producer is cocky about our time, it's never happened in the history of the Oscars," Davis said.
"The Once songwriters provided the best moment of the evening and spontaneity," declared Fox's Tom Rothman. "It's what the Oscars are supposed to be about."
"Jon had less angst," said writer Bruce Vilanch of host Stewart's second outing as host. "He was more relaxed about it and knew what he wanted to do."
Sony's Howard Stringer admired the acceptance speeches, which were "devoid of cliches," he said, "full of entertaining energy."
SPC's Tom Bernard agreed: "The speeches were about the movies," he said, "not kissing the ass of studios and agents. The Academy is trying to focus more attention on the movies and not the people outside the movies."
Picturehouse prexy Bob Berney, celebrating two wins for "La Vie en Rose," credited Marion Cotillard for spending several months in L.A. improving her English as well as the efforts of her CAA agent, Hylda Queally. Cotillard returns to work on Michael Mann's John Dillinger movie "Public Enemies," opposite Johnny Depp, on Tuesday.
The Warners table--complete with heavyweight execs Jeff Bewkes, Barry Meyer and Alan Horn--boasted Michael Clayton winner Tilda Swinton, sitting with her three-year boyfriend Sandro Kopp and agent Brian Swardstrom, who she had thanked in her acceptance speech. "Tilda kept us from getting skunked," said George Clooney, heading out into the night with girlfriend Sarah Larson.
As Swinton left the Ball, some 30 people cheered her as she held up her Oscar. She turned to her boyfriend and cracked, "That's more people than I think have seen Michael Clayton!"
At the end of the night, the Disney/Miramax contingent and many others repaired to the Bar Marmont on Sunset for a loud, raucous party dominated by infectious 80s dance music. Ben Affleck was consoling his brother Casey. Javier Bardem and his pals took over one end of the bar. John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Kathy Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Scott Rudin, Julian Schnabel, Tamara Jenkins and Jim Taylor, Bart Walker, John Sloss, Daniel Battsek, Mark Urman and others had a fine time.
Frances McDormand and husband Joel Coen were hanging with their 13-year-old son, who was experiencing his first Oscars. "They didn't buy it," she said of the Coens' Oscar wins. "They work hard. And will keep working hard."
[Photo: Ratatouille director Brad Bird with his wife and his Oscar on the way out of the Governor's Ball and heading toward the Miramax post-Oscar party at Bar Marmont.]
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]