HOLLYWOOD — The red carpet is in some ways a microcosm of the Oscar food chain.
The first nominees arrive two and a half hours before the show is to begin. These are the people who worked on live-action shorts and documentary features and foreign-language films and animated shorts and documentary shorts.
The last nominees show up as cameras are being shut down, notebooks and microphones are being stashed and everyone is scrambling to get in place for the show.
George Clooney brought up the rear Sunday.
In between came the parade of nominees and other celebrities: some dashing, some taking their time. Mind you, I'm talking from the perspective of the print journalists who were stationed past the sharp right-hand turn after the carpet walkers have entered near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue and passed through the long gantlet along Hollywood. When they see us, they can also see the entrance of the theater/mall complex.
But many stopped anyway, in large part because the most popular entertainment print journalist on the planet, Baz Bamigboye of London's Daily Mail, has the ability to call out to superstars and have Steven Spielberg come over to slap him a high five and Daniel Day-Lewis to shake his hand and to apologize for having to enter the theater: “I'm going. I'm going. Please. Please.”
Seriously, if you ever get this gig, stand next to Baz.
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook” actress nominee) came by, as seemingly candid and refreshing as ever, saying, “I'm feeling very excited that it's all over — and very hungry. I forgot about eating till I got in the car.”
Then Kristen Stewart limped up on crutches, and the two young actresses who anchor franchises (“The Hunger Games” for Lawrence, “Twilight” for Stewart) exchanged hugs and greetings while everyone around them snapped photos and tried to get Stewart to spill what was up with the crutches. (She wasn't talking.)
Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”) was having her fab dress admired when she said, “I'm simultaneously holding my breath and breathing 'cause I'm singing later.”
Fellow supporting actress nominee Helen Hunt of “The Sessions” was more into talking about her film than clothes; her handler informed us her dress was from H&M.
Best song nominee Adele (“Skyfall”) zipped by, but the singer of perhaps the greatest James Bond theme, 76-year-old Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger,” as well as “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker”), fought off shivers as she anticipated singing something gold-themed during the show's Bond segment.
Dennis Kucinich popped by. As did Rupert Murdoch. Newscaster Robin Roberts received repeated ovations upon her glamorous return from a cancer battle, and she and Halle Berry exchanged hugs.
Daniel Radcliffe revealed that this was his first Oscars and that he'd be all nerves till his job was done — he was in the opening musical sequence. Catherine Zeta-Jones, with hubby Michael Douglas on her arm, was there to perform in the musicals tribute.
Jessica Chastain, best actress nominee for “Zero Dark Thirty” and another performer who gives off a genuinely warm vibe, discussed how the day after being up for supporting actress last year for “The Help,” she was on 25 hours’ of plane flights to film “Zero Dark Thirty.”
This year she said Oscar Monday would be a day of rest — but first, an awards show beckoned.