The Academy Museum Gala returned in star-studded style on Saturday night for its second annual celebration, feting this year’s honorees Julia Roberts, Tilda Swinton, Steve McQueen and Miky Lee.
The A-list guests at the Los Angeles event also included George Clooney, Emma Stone, Spike Lee, Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne, Laura Dern, Michelle Yeoh, Kerry Washington, Ava DuVernay, Selena Gomez, Olivia Wilde, Glenn Close, Sterling K. Brown, Jonathan Majors, Selma Blair, Christina Ricci, Keke Palmer, Mindy Kaling, Regina Hall, Julianna Margulies, Natasha Lyonne, Adrien Brody, Ron Howard, Ryan Murphy and Luca Guadagnino, who mingled on the carpet and inside the exclusive gala. (See photos here).
Swinton, who received the Visionary Award for “an artist or scholar whose extensive oeuvre has advanced the art of cinema,” told The Hollywood Reporter that the recognition was “sort of unimaginably honoring.”
“I can’t quite get my head around it,” she continued.”I don’t really know what it is until we get in there, it feels kind of almost too much.”
McQueen, who received the Vantage Award for “an artist or scholar who has helped to contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema,” added that “it’s an honor to be honored by the Academy — who else would you want to be honored by for a filmmaker?”
Miky Lee, who serves as vice chair of the museum’s board, was recognized with the Pillar Award for “exemplary leadership and support for the Academy Museum” and Roberts was presented with the inaugural Gala Icon Award for “an artist whose career has had a significant global cultural impact.”
Robert’s appearance created quite the fanfare among the starry crowd, as Chastain — who walked the press line with her The Good Nurse costar Redmayne — joked that “Julia Roberts brought him out, he’s very excited that Julia Roberts is going to be here tonight,” a sentiment Redmayne confirmed. Asked if he had any conversation starters planned for Roberts, Chastain teased, “I’m just a boy, standing in front of girl, asking her to love him…” of Notting Hill fame, as Redmayne revealed this encounter would actually be a second attempt.
“I actually did once meet her, she very generously handed me an award once and I made a fool of myself,” the actor said. “I just gushed. I felt embarrassed about that.” And since the gala also serves as a major fundraiser for the museum, Chastain also noted, “they raised $11 million last year so hopefully —open your wallet, Redmayne. Make it 12!”
Swinton was also getting some love on the carpet, particularly from Majors, who called the star his favorite actress. “I hear she’s going to be here. I may be too bashful to speak to her but she’s my favorite,” he confided, while also speaking to the importance of the Academy Museum providing a home for film history in Los Angeles.
“Cinema is the tool of democracy and if we can put our progress in capsules, if we can memorialize it in any way, we should do so,” he said. “It demonstrates ways to live, and to live better, teach us lessons. I’m glad to be here and honor these people today and their contributions to it.”
Added Swinton herself, “The thing about film is it never gets old and it’s really important for the archive to be available to everybody. And this museum is really phenomenal. I came around it yesterday and it’s so alive and so inclusive. I think anybody that lives in L.A. should just come and hang out here as much as they can.”
Inside the event, guests — who also included Judd Apatow, Jason Blum, The Daniels, Xolo Maridueña, Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas, Hailey Bieber, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jurnee Smollett, Lily Collins, Kaitlyn Dever, B.J. Novak, Alexandra Daddario, Alexa Demie, Colman Domingo, Lena Dunham, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez and Rebel Wilson — got the celebration started with a cocktail party at museum restaurant Fanny’s, where Ron Howard and Spike Lee conversated while Thuso Mbedu sat in a booth with her Woman King director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Yeoh also took in a choir that came to perform on the restaurant balcony before the party moved to the main room.
For the awards portion, Jeffrey Katzenberg presented to Miky Lee, noting she was an early investor in DreamWorks; Guadagnino, who walked the carpet with his Bones and All star Taylor Russell, presented to Swinton, who starred in his Suspiria. Daniel Kaluuya presented to McQueen, who directed him in Widows, and Clooney presented to his Ticket to Paradise co-star Roberts (who wore Thom Browne).
At the end of the night, Diana Ross dropped in for a special surprise performance, as Blum, Alicia Vikander and Universal’s Donna Langley were among those grooving to her hits. This year’s gala raised $10 million to support the museum’s access, education and programming initiatives.
The event was also co-chaired by Academy Museum trustees Blum and Ryan Murphy, as well as Halle Berry and Lupita Nyong’o. Gala creative director Lisa Love and artistic director Raul Àvila oversaw event production and design for the evening, which was presented by Rolex, and guests were sent home with a goodie bag of chocolates from the luxury watch brand.