Oscar nominees by the dozen are doing lunch.
The Academy Awards luncheon was under way Monday in Beverly Hills, an annual event that draws a healthy chunk of Oscar hopefuls for some backslapping, fun-poking and fancy catering.
Here’s what AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is seeing from inside:
Taraji P. Henson poses for photos and signs autographs before entering the ballroom. Richard Jenkins quietly waits in line for his ticket.
Five Oscar trophies stand on a stage. A pianist plays a grand.
Mickey Rourke comes through and disappears into the men’s room.
Anne Hathaway is the last to arrive before the doors close.
Suddenly it’s the hall of ex-presidents: Josh Brolin, who played George W. Bush in “W.,” shares a moment with Frank Langella, who played Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon.”
Ron Howard, wearing hiking shoes with his jacket and tie, is effusive with fellow director nominee Danny Boyle. Says the “Frost/Nixon” director to the “Slumdog Millionaire” director: “Congratulations. ... Well deserved.”
Robert Downey Jr. chats with Oscar producers Laurence Mark and Bill Condon.
Danny Elfman, wearing shades and a name tag that says he’s a nominee for “Milk” (original score), chats with Marisa Tomei (supporting actress, “The Wrestler”).
Academy president Sid Ganis calls the seating at he luncheon “relentlessly democratic.” All the same, supporting-actor nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”) sits under a banner that says “81st Academy Awards nominees” rather than his lunch table.
Fellow best-actor hopefuls Rourke and Sean Penn stand side-by-side and share commentary as nominees’ names are read. Moments later, Penn sidles up to Tomei, who then hugs Rourke as the roster of names is read.
Boyle gets hearty applause from his fellow nominees.