After the last of the 85th Annual Academy Awards were handed out, ending a months-long saga of premieres, positioning, ego-stroking and dirt-slinging, there was nothing left to do but party.
Winners and losers alike make their way immediately after the ceremony to the Governors Ball, held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom, a few flights up from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre. In fact, the room is dominated by losers (and presenters) for the first hour, since the winners are busy fielding questions in the press room. (For a recap of those conversations, check out HuffPost's list of the 10 most interesting things said.)
Team "Lincoln" congregated around a few tables by the entrance to the ballroom, not far from the two oversize Oscar statuettes that rather tauntingly welcomed new arrivals. Best Adapted Screenplay nominee Tony Kushner and Best Supporting Actress nominee Sally Field, resplendent in red, made "we're fine with this, really" faces to Rebecca Miller, whose husband, Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis, was presumably still answering questions somewhere. A few tables over, Tommy Lee Jones informed this reporter that Seth MacFarlane had succeeded in his mission to make the Best Supporting Actor nominee laugh. "I thought he was hilarious," he said. What was his favorite part? "I Saw Your Boobs," he said without hesitation, only slightly mistaking the name of host Seth MacFarlane's most outrageous musical number.
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On the other side of the room, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" director Benh Zeitlin and "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jason Clarke agreed to ditch the awards circuit once and for all and hit a bar downtown.
Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg was one of the first to arrive clutching a golden statuette. He posed with Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Asked how it felt to perform "All That Jazz," from her Oscar-winning turn in "Chicago," before a live audience, she said, "Nerve-wracking but great. I loved it."
Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence arrived with an entourage of family members and greeted a friend with a long hug. The heels that had tripped her up during the ceremony made her appear impossibly tall -- and larger-than-life in the very best sense of the term.
Chris Evans, known to fans of "Marvel's The Avengers" as Captain America, was searching the crowded floor for Octavia Spencer, his co-star in the upcoming thriller "Snowpiercer." He wanted to introduce her to his date -- who also happened to be his mother. Evans said the confused back-and-forth between Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. over how to present the award for Best Visual Effects had been completely genuine -- and spontaneous. "There was a lot of improvising going on," he said, adding that he had no desire ever to get between Jackson and Downey Jr.
Claudio Miranda, Best Cinematography winner for "Life of Pi," looked non-plussed when a reporter informed him that his long, flowing locks had already helped launch a "wizard hair" Internet meme.
At the front entrance, Ben Affleck and George Clooney were arriving, gleaming Best Picture Oscars in hand, stunning dates -- Jennifer Garner and Stacy Keibler, respectively -- at their sides. "Look, it's George Clooney!" Affleck said to the red-carpet reporters lined up to greet him, in a halfhearted attempt to deflect attention away from himself.
Some miles away, a crowd of revelers -- many of whom hadn't attended the Oscars -- convened at the sprawling modern home of music manager Guy Oseary. Madonna was somewhere in the crowd, disguised in a jet-black wig, but plenty of other A-listers were content to be seen cutting loose. There were, after all, no photographers present to document the fun.
Surrounded by friends, Leonardo DiCaprio, dressed in a sharp but decidedly non-formal grey suit, commandeered a corner of the dance floor, not far away from Natalie Portman, in one direction, and Kyle MacLachlan in another. Somewhere in the distance, the designer Valentino bobbed up and down. At the edge of the dance floor, Bono greeted this site's Editor-in-Chief, Arianna Huffington, as NBA owner and media mogul Mark Cuban looked on. Also in attendance were Sandra Bullock, Selena Gomez, Kristen Chenoweth, Virginia Madsen, Moby, Jared Leto, Rashida Jones and Alexandr Skarsgard.
At the Sunset Tower Hotel, on Sunset Boulevard, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter's famously eclectic -- and exclusive -- party was still rolling along the clock neared 1:30 am. The event is a mandatory stop for winners, and though many guests had by then moved on to other locales -- host Seth MacFarlane's house, to name just one -- the magazine's signature mix of fascinating people was still on display. Jamie Foxx clutched a cell phone to his ear at the front entrance, and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler held court at a banquette. Across the room, Best Original Screenplay winner Quentin Tarantino huddled with fellow director Tim Burton. Daniel Radcliffe chatted with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Best Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz shared a few words with Michael Douglas. Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Minnie Driver and "Girls" star Allison Williams were also in attendance.
As if to prove that Oscar night truly ain't over till it's over, Ang Lee arrived, still clutching his award for Best Director, well after 2 am, and found himself deep in conversation with awards publicist Peggy Siegal. Their topic of conversation? Let's just hope it wasn't the 86th Annual Academy Awards.