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Friday February 28th, 2020 10:28PM

Oscar parties: Pitt goes right in, Phoenix engraves-and-runs

By The Associated Press
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Brad Pitt, tux still on but tie gone and best supporting actor Academy Award stowed away somewhere, stepped out of a car with a few friends at the quiet back entrance to Vanity Fair's annual post-Oscars party.

“Do you want to go to the red carpet?” an attendant asked.

“Nah,” Pitt said. “Let's go right in.”

He'd had enough of red carpets, cameras and questions after a long awards season that culminated in a very long Oscars on Sunday and a victory in the best supporting actor category for his role in “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood." It was time to party.

“Go right in” could practically be the motto of the kick-off-your-shoes, kick-up-your-heels Vanity Fair party, which serves as the de facto end-of-season celebration.

Pitt and his crew slid in through an unmarked entrance near the men's room, joining the party where uniformed employees handed out In-N-Out burgers overflowing from boxes as nominees and presenters in fitted gowns and tight tuxes let loose.

Eighteen-year-old Billie Eilish and her brother-producer-pianist Finneas walked arm-in-arm into the same side of the soiree minutes later. The duo was soon hanging out on a remote couch with 24-year-old Timothée Chalamet in a cool-kids corner of the party whose celebrities, like Pitt, are often decades older.

The champagne-soaked affair, which begins as a viewing party for 100 people and grows into the night's most sought-after invitation, is thrown in a space that connects the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with Beverly Hills City Hall and is hosted by Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones.

On a night when the class-conscious “Parasite” was the big winner, the event was as always overloaded with the 1%, but the fare also always leans lowbrow, with boxes of fried chicken, pickles and cornbread, buckwheat corn dogs and milkshakes in the mix along with the signature In-N-Out.

Earlier in the evening as the ceremony ended, some 1,500 people filtered into the Governors Ball — the official Oscars after-party — to grab a bite of the Wolfgang Puck fare and a drink before heading off to other celebrations. Held just a few escalator rides up from the Dolby Theatre, it’s a place where attendees can relax a bit and winners can get their Oscars engraved.

Presenter Mahershala Ali mingled with admirers near the entrance, while best actor nominee Adam Driver found a small table off in a corner to share a drink and some bites with his wife, Joanne Tucker, and a few friends.

“Little Women” director Greta Gerwig, accompanied by her parents, said she was “crying all night.” They were tears of joy, mind you.

“It was the most amazing night,” she said, mentioning how proud she was of “Little Women” costume designer Jacqueline Durran and Laura Dern, who was in Gerwig's film, but won best supporting actress for her performance in Gerwig’s fiance’s movie, “Marriage Story."

Elsewhere, supporting actress nominee Florence Pugh had had enough with her high heels and walked toward the exit, carrying her teal satin shoes along with her purse. Earlier, she shared some kind words with fellow Brit and “1917” star George MacKay. Pugh, who was nominated for “Little Women,” said the evening was “amazing” and “dripping with glamour.”

Pugh wasn’t the only one making an early exit. Best actor winner Joaquin Phoenix sped toward the door, engraved Oscar in hand, with more than a few people following him hoping to get a word in. Rooney Mara kept things moving though, grabbing her fiance by the hand and making sure their friends were close behind.

At a viewing party hosted by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the crowd gave a standing ovation after the singer won the best original song Oscar, “I'm Going to Love Me Again” from “Rocketman.”

John arrived at his party around the time the Oscars were ending. He joined British singer Sam Fender for a performance of Fender's song “Will We Talk?” The evening raised more than $6.4 million for the global fight against AIDS.

At the Vanity Fair party, as the night wore on and the main room grew crowded, the patio increasingly became the place to be. There, Spike Lee and “Harriet” star Cynthia Erivo, a best actress nominee, posed together for a picture. Gal Gadot and Salma Hayek smoked cigarettes together at a table — smoking abounds on the patio even in an era where it's increasingly rare everywhere else — and laughed with passing visitors.

The party also had its share of instant celebrities whose Oscars in more technical categories win them invitations and the congratulations of scores of partygoers.

Makeup artist Kazu Hiro and hairstylist Anne Morgan stood with their newly engraved statuettes at a table on the patio and drew crowds like household names.

As things began to wind down close to 1 a.m., sausage and egg sandwiches, vegan doughnut holes and iced coffee in to-go containers were up for grabs at the car service and valet pavilion.

Taika Waititi, who a year earlier spent most of the party dancing and this year gleefully accepted congratulations for his best adapted screenplay win, said goodbye to Keegan-Michael Key and Jeremy Renner and jumped in an SUV with a group of friends.

A nearby valet repeatedly yelled “Bong! Bong! Your car's going to leave!" making everyone look around for “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho whose film had won four Oscars including best picture, making him the night's unlikely biggest star. He was nowhere in sight.

A group of fans just outside the barricades asked all who passed, “Is Billie Eilish still inside?"

She was.

___ AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.

___

For more coverage of this year's Oscars, see apnews.com/AcademyAwards.

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