By Susana Samhan
Los Angeles (EFE).- To get to where the action is at the Oscars gala, guests first have to ride a creaky escalator into the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California, which sits inside a somewhat outdated shopping mall.
The theater in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard this year hosted the 95th Academy Awards ceremony, a kitsch event where the lauded actors provided lashings of glamor and drama.
In past ceremonies, the red carpet has been an iconic fixture but this year attendees strutted down a champagne-colored carpet.
Once inside, drinks were in free flow, but the food, which consisted of pizza, spicy caramel-flavored popcorn, and dried fruit, was harder to come by.
“I’m hungry, thirsty and my legs hurt,” American-Mexican actress Eva Longoria told Efe in the theater’s ground-floor lobby, where award nominees and presenters lingered.
Actor Ricardo Darín, who features in the movie Argentina, 1985 and was nominated for best foreign film, played down his team’s loss to the German movie All Quiet on the Western Front.
“I’m not about results, the important thing is the journey,” he told Efe.
Cuban Spanish actress Ana de Armas, who was nominated for her role as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, told Efe ahead of the gala that she had dreamed of coming to the Oscars, but never imagined it would happen.
“It’s also extra special to do it with this project, with this film, and with this character,” she added.
On the other side of the vast hall, several people known as “seat fillers” in black attire sat near one of the entrances to the amphitheater. The volunteers were roped in by Oscars organizers to ensure the event looked packed.
But there didn’t seem to be many empty spots at this year’s event, and throughout the ceremony there was a steady flow of people coming and going through the theater as guests popped out for a drink or to get some fresh air.
Truth be told, the ceremony was rather monotonous, and more so following the drama of Will Smith’s infamous slap at last year’s edition.
In a departure from last year’s seating plan around tables, organizers sat the audience in rows for Sunday night’s show, making the journey to the stage a little trickier.
In the first leg of the gala, the audience was lackluster until a group of joyous dancers took to the stage to perform Naatu Naatu, the Oscar-winning hit track from the Indian movie RRR.
It soon became apparent that the entire show had been designed with television in mind.
There was a distinct feeling of being on the set of a movie or TV show.
Many of the gold ornaments were not real gold and most of the props seemed to be made out of cheap materials like cardboard.
But any sense of deception was soon remedied by the presence of Hollywood greats such as Steven Spielberg, who served as a reminder of the grandeur of the gala, the most important in the world of cinema.
The 76-year-old director’s most personal movie to date, The Fabelmans, was nominated for best film but lost to Everything Everywhere All at Once, which swept the floor at the awards this year.
Veteran Spielberg, who has won three Academy Awards, told Efe he did not know “how many times” he had come to the Oscars, having lost count in a lengthy career.
Sitting not far from Spielberg was Daniel Brühl, the Spanish-German actor and executive producer of one of the winning movies of the night, All Quiet on the Western Front. He told Efe that he was excited to be attending this year with such a “small film.”
But it was the team behind Everything Everywhere All at Once, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, also known as the “Daniels,” that dominated the night, nabbing seven Oscars.
At a rooftop after-party, the winners of the night took over the affair as Michael Jackson hits played in the background.
“It’s wonderful,” best actress winner Michelle Yeoh, 60, told Efe.
She added that she had not prepared her iconic acceptance speech where she encouraged women not to “let anyone tell you you are past your prime.”
As Yeoh disappeared into a sea of photographers, the Daniels arrived at the party holding their award.
Kwan told Efe that he was going to celebrate by resting, although seconds later changed his mind and said: “I think I’ll continue with the party.”
The show must go on. EFE