Greta Gerwig screamed with delight and relief as she hugged a group of friends once she got into the Vanity Fair Oscar party.
The "Lady Bird" director and Oscar nominee had just walked down the last red carpet of her long awards season. She quickly pulled up her long flowing gown, kicked off her high heels and put on a pair of checkered Vans sneakers so she could run through the room in comfort.
On the surface, Hollywood's after-Oscar parties are held to celebrate the winners and almost-winners at the Academy Awards. But their real purpose, for many anyway, is to recognize that the entire exhausting epic of the awards season is finally over.
Nowhere is this more true than the Vanity Fair party, where the tables are stacked with junk food made with highbrow flair, and an endless stream of In-N-Out burgers are served in overflowing boxes by the chain's workers in uniform, all of it telling partiers that the time to starve yourself to fit into tuxes and gowns is over. It's time to eat again.
Gerwig was all smiles as she walked into the room in her Vans, saw Octavia Spencer, nominated for best actress for "The Shape of Water," sitting on a couch and trotted over to give her a hug.
Saoirse Ronan, the star of Gerwig's movie, went even more casual, walking the room and even the sidewalks outside while barefoot.
In the outdoor patio of the party hosted by Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones at the Annenberg Space for Photography on the border of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, best actress winner and rousing speech-giver Frances McDormand was struggling to get through an In-N-Out Burger because of a steady stream of well-wishers that included a fawning Jon Hamm.
McDormand, with her husband the director Joel Coen having an easier time of eating nearby, held her burger in her left hand while she hugged and shook hands with her right, posing for pictures with dozens of doting fans.
She repeatedly joked "I lost it" to all who asked where her Oscar statuette had gone.
While the nominees make it a regular stop, the Vanity Fair party, whose atmosphere with its dim lighting and throbbing music feels like a night club, prides itself on hosting A-list guests that had no part in the Oscars or movies at all.
At one point Sunday night Drake and Diddy, major figures representing two generations of hip-hop, ran into each other and made a scene with a giggle-filled hug.
Moments later across the room, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" star Tom Holland by chance bumped into his on-screen aunt and guardian Marisa Tomei, and the two also shared a happy hug to the delight of onlookers and photographers.
Sarah Silverman, Donald Glover, Emily Ratajkowski and Kate Upton all chatted with groups of friends over tables stacked with truffled popcorn and buttermilk fried chicken nuggets.
Kendall Jenner drew gawkers and
compliments with a short black dress whose huge, multi-layered levels resembled a building designed by Frank Gehry.
The party's first phase earlier in the evening was a dinner for a smaller group of invitees, who dined on slow-poached dover sole and grilled beef calotte as they watched the show, where "The Shape of Water" was the big winner.
A similar viewing party was going on back in Hollywood at Elton John's annual AIDS Foundation soiree, where star party-goers cheered on the biggest moments of the Academy Awards.
Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, Ricky Martin, Billie Jean King, Lionel Richie, Caitlyn Jenner, Lea Michele and Judith Light were among other celebs who cheered loudly during some of the show's bigger moments.
Allison Janney's best supporting actress win for "I, Tonya" got wild applause, as did McDormand when she called for an "inclusion rider" during her acceptance speech celebrating diversity and women storytellers.
The 26th annual event features an elegant dinner during the show, then later, a silent auction to raise funds for the charity and a concert featuring the rock band Greta Van Fleet.
Janney showed up late at the Vanity Fair party, also holding no Oscar, and took over the toast-of-the-room role earlier played by McDormand.
She had traded her red gown for a more comfortable outfit with a white blouse. And after sweeping nearly every award since the Golden Globes in January, she could not have looked happier as she took in the love of the room.