Security is having trouble managing the line at the metal detectors, so one brave officer asks, “Would anyone want to bypass the red carpet?”

Silence. Nobody even cocked an eye. It wasn’t even Botox’s fault.

Instead, Pedro Pascal is staying put, appearing almost indistinguishable in big black spectacles while he chats eagerly with RegĂ©-Jean Page during a respite from battling an epidemic of cordyceps. Do you mean Mia Goth? Steadfast as a tree, dressed in slinky black silk. If you’re one of the lucky celebs to make it onto The List, attending the Vanity Fair Oscars party means dressing to the nines in your sexiest or most outlandish attire in order to capture photographic proof that you were among The Selected. What if Olivia Wilde changes into a bikini top and half a dress, but no one thinks to bring out the cameras? Only one person out of the fifty or so waiting patiently decided they were not famous enough to wait in line and instead climbed over grass and camera wires to avoid the carpet at this year’s annual bash full of Hollywood heavy hitters. (That’s right, it’s us!)

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Screaming, “Hugh! Hugh! They yell, “STOP!” as if they were attempting to prevent him from walking in front of a bus, and their flashbulbs go off. Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell rush by in such a hurry that they almost run into Cardi B, who is covering her face with a red chiffon scarf. Melanie Lynskey exclaims, “Someone conceal me” as she clings to the arm of a pal, maybe feeling too exposed after a bold display of decolletage for the cameras.

This year’s Oscars had a more welcoming and low-key vibe, and that vibe carried over to the glitziest of after-parties for Hollywood’s A-list. Well, there was Kate Hudson, who made room for herself with her enormous fuchsia ruffled sleeves, and Tracee Ellis Ross, who looked like she’d gotten off the Titanic in a saucerlike white Balmain hat that she never removed, despite the fact that it nearly smacked a lot of people in the face. In-N-Out burgers were the main attraction, though, and everyone devoured them. Bill Nighy, at the age of 73, was seen sitting on a bench with Tony Kushner, both men seemingly paying allegiance to Steven Spielberg as they devoured their sandwiches. Whoops, Michelle Williams wants our attention. Just showing her spouse where the waiter with the cheeseburgers is.

There are a lot of odd combinations. Laverne Cox, in a figure-hugging black gown, towering above Andrew Garfield, who is wearing an enormous crayon-red jacket that makes him appear even shorter.

“I don’t think Andrew would mind my sharing this, but he is fascinated with ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race,’ and that’s what we originally connected over,” adds Cox. This is her first Hollywood party since the outbreak, and she’s been feeling out of place, so Garfield was a welcome sight.

I’m a little worried since I haven’t gotten covid yet,” Cox admits. I’m saying, “This is probably my night.”

Sharon Stone, who we overhear giving Usher a bear embrace and lamenting the length of time that has passed, is the source of a massive orange embroidered train that is blocking our path to the outside. It stands to reason that everyone in the public eye would know everyone else in the public eye, as celebrity friendships are a given. Sitting on a seat, like a genuine aspiring queen, Patricia Clarkson has set up camp and refused to budge all night, allowing admirers to come to her.

Ava DuVernay is the type of filmmaker who will not stop working, even during a party, so she has sent out her pals to round up all the Black guests for a group shot. Jeremy Pope is corraling Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors on the terrace. You won’t find a better ad man than me! The comedian Tiffany Haddish exclaims, “I got this!” as she cuts off her long hair and does silent-movie-star finger waves with her knuckles. Not only Kerry Washington, Teyana Taylor, and Tessa Thompson are involved here; Tessa Thompson and Tessa Speck are, too. The meeting between Queen Latifah and Shonda Rhimes was so heated that we imagined they were plotting a TV show together. Around 20 Black notables leave the celebration and disappear behind a curtain beside the entryway, causing the near-total evacuation. Upon seeing DuVernay’s bat signal, Donald Glover and Idris Elba run down the corridor.

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