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Tom Cruise Was a Major Flirt at the 2023 Oscar Nominees Luncheon

Michelle Yeoh fan Tom Cruise and Michelle Yeoh. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is the most outside the Oscar nominees have ever been. The annual nominees’ luncheon was held on February 13 for the first time since 2020’s pre-pandemic event. The latest genial occasion for industry schmoozing and light chitchat (which began in 1982 to keep the public interested in awards season) produced a record turnout of nominees: 181 Oscar hopefuls showed up to mingle, take the 95th Academy Awards luncheon class photo, and flirt with their fellow nominees (Tom Cruise, looking at you) at the Beverly Hilton, the ancestral home of this get-together (in 2020, it moved to the Ray Dolby Ballroom, the same location of the Oscars ceremony itself). First-time nominee Jamie Lee Curtis was the first called to the risers for the photo portion of the program. She stood out in the back row, her hair matching her ice-blue suit. Michelle Yeoh, Paul Mescal, Stephanie Hsu, Brian Tyree Henry, Ke Huy Quan, and more can be spotted in the nominees’ group shot. Besides a game of Where’s Waldo? with the class photo, what else went down at the luncheon?

The luncheon class photo of the 95th Academy Awards nominees. Photo: Richard Harbaugh/AMPAS

The Slap was resurrected

Academy president Janet Yang brought up the Slap during the luncheon, proving that the seismic event has more lives than cats do — and that it has changed the way the Academy operates. Calling the organization’s initial response to Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock during last year’s Oscars “inadequate,” Yang spoke about how the Academy will position itself in the future. “We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and particularly in times of crisis we must act swiftly, compassionately, and decisively for ourselves and for our industry,” she said in a speech. “You should and can expect no less from us going forward.”

Andrea Riseborough couldn’t attend

Riseborough, a surprise Best Actress nominee, was noticeably absent. “Andrea is in production on The Palace in Europe and was unable to travel to Los Angeles given her shooting schedule,” a rep told the Daily Mail. If you’re just now getting hip to this year’s Oscars lore, her atypical awards campaign, which began weeks before voting concluded, resulted in a nomination that may have led the Academy to investigate award campaigning altogether. The actor’s nomination for To Leslie alongside snubs for Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) made for an uncomfortable situation for an organization that doesn’t have a great track record in recognizing the achievements of Black people (think 2015’s #OscarsSoWhite). In the aftermath, Till director Chinonye Chukwu and The Woman King director Gina Prince-Bythewood made separate public statements about their frustration with the Academy’s whiteness. Riseborough kept her nod following the investigation.

Tom Cruise flirted with everyone

The adrenaline junkie worked the room. Not only did the top gun whisper into Elvis nominee Austin Butler’s ear, he embraced Pinocchio director Guillermo del Toro and Everything Everywhere All at Once nominee Jamie Lee Curtis. Cruise also got close to Michele Yeoh, nominated for Best Actress for her performance in Everything Everywhere, and the two shared a laugh. Cameras caught him in 4K below. Save some for Oscars night.

  1. Austin Butler and Tom Cruise.

  2. Tom Cruise and Michelle Yeoh.

  3. Tom Cruise and Guillermo del Toro.

  4. Tom Cruise and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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Tom Cruise Was a Major Flirt at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon