HOLLYWOOD — The campaigns were over. The prizes won. And so, it was time to party.
After the Academy Awards ended Sunday night, guests spilled straight into the decadent Governors Ball, held just upstairs from the ceremony in the Ray Dolby ballroom. Inside the bash, walls were completely covered in stunning "lush vertical gardens," John Legend performed and stars such as Cate Blanchett and Lupita Nyong'o got their Oscars engraved.
When host Ellen DeGeneres arrived at the Governors Ball with wife Portia de Rossi, the couple were immediately surrounded by well-wishers and photographers. DeGeneres said she enjoyed her second time hosting. "It was fun. It was easier. I was more relaxed" than seven years ago, she said.
How did celebs rate DeGeneres' second date with Oscar?
"So great," said John Stamos near the entrance of the party, where champagne and Rob Roys waited on trays to be passed to guests. "I love her getting Harrison Ford to eat pizza, and getting Brad Pitt to pay for the pizza. I think that's what America loves about her. It's time for the preciousness to get taken away from events like this."
"I loved her," said June Squibb, who was nominated for best supporting actress in Nebraska. "That thing she did in the beginning with me was great," referencing the host's mention of her in the opening monologue. The show "was so cool," added fellow nominee Sally Hawkins. "When (DeGeneres) came out in the Glinda outfit, Cate (Blanchett) and I were backstage watching and it was just wonderful."
Julie Delpy praised DeGeneres' performance. "I love her interaction with everybody," said Delpy, who was nominated along with Ethan Hawke for adapted screenplay for Before Midnight. But when DeGeneres delivered pizza to the nominees during the show, "I was scared she was coming all the way to me," she admitted.
The actress, having a quick bite to eat before searching out friends, said she plans to direct a comedy film set in the vaudeville area called A Dazzling Display of Splendor. "I'm trying to direct my own films. As a woman director … it's a very small club," she said.
As the packed party revved up, 1,500 attendees let loose under a ceiling lit with sparkling LED stars. Supporting-actress nominee Julia Roberts put her black-rimmed glasses back on and chatted with girlfriends, Jonah Hill — nominated for best supporting actor in Wolf of Wall Street — charmed a young fan and the 12 Years a Slave cast celebrated together. "I wasn't sure, but I was hopeful," said 12 Years star Paul Dano of the film's best-picture chances.
Nearby, Benedict Cumberbatch chatted with co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film's big win is "the definition of overwhelming. It's a huge validation of Solomon Northup's story. It means a lot. I'm thrilled to be a small cog" in the production, Cumberbatch said of the film's triumph.
The actor said he's excited about his upcoming film, The Imitation Game. He plays Alan Turing, a real-life British mathematician and World War II codebreaker who recently received a royal pardon for 1950s criminal charges related to homosexuality. "I adore that man," said Cumberbatch, who objects to how Turing was treated. "It would be a special thing to do him justice."
Across the ball at just after 10 p.m., massive applause erupted from the Gravity table, which was loaded with gold statues from the film's seven wins. "Cheers!" said Sandra Bullock, clinking her glass of champagne with a friend's.
Key in a celebration this size? A personal search party. "I'm looking for John Travolta for Liza Minnelli," said a celeb handler, peering around groups of guests huddled together.
As the band played popular tunes, such as theme music from The Pink Panther, servers passed more than 50 dishes, including short ribs, tuna tartare, chicken pot pies, shrimp cocktail, baked potatoes stuffed with caviar, Chinese chicken salad, Shanghai lobster and chestnut truffle ravioli.
At the back of the ball, Jared Leto used his phone to take video of engravers adding his name to his best-supporting-actor Oscar. Where will the star keep his statue? "Uh … in my kitchen!" he said.
What about Matthew McConaughey? "Don't know yet!" he said in the trophy room, accompanied by his wife, Camila Alves. He, too, wanted to document the moment. "Can I take a picture of this?" he said as they fixed his name to his Oscar. (The answer was, of course, yes.)
As Legend took the stage and notes of All of Me filled the ball, Alfonso Cuarón sidled up to the engravers. He sweetly kissed his daughter on the head as they watched the elegant process. Where will the Gravity director's Oscars go? "It's hers!" he said, as his daughter grinned and clutched one of Dad's (many) gold statues.
Last but not least to finalize her prize was Blanchett, whose gown was so long she had help from a handler holding it up as she navigated the room. "I'm just going to get this engraved before someone takes it off me!" she said, weaving through the crowded party with her Oscar.