Oscar pre-parties | EW.com

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Oscar pre-parties

Oscar pre-parties--We catch up with party-hopping stars in the days leading up to the big night

Miramax’s ”Maxes”
While anti-abortion activists protested The Cider House Rules outside, Miramax feted its nominated flicks inside the Regent Beverly Wilshire at its annual Oscar-eve salute to itself. ”This is so sick,” cochairman Harvey Weinstein remarked while watching Kevin Spacey suit up in drag for a spoof of Cider House and Ben Affleck dust off his Harvey imitation for a Music of the Heart riff. Not every thespian got in on the act: Ethan Hawke joked to wife Uma Thurman, ”I’d have to be really drunk to do this.” This was a more subdued affair than in years past — no doubt because Roberto Benigni failed to show.

The Independent Spirit Awards
The buzzword at the IFP/West’s Independent Spirit Awards (sponsored in part by EW) was upset. As expected, Boys Don’t Cry’s Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny walked away with prizes. But Election’s wins for screenplay, feature, and director were big surprises. Being John Malkovich’s Spike Jonze won Best First Feature (Over $500,000). Between presentations, most of the action revolved around seeing Quentin Tarantino again — he’s been MIA while working on a new script. ”At the end of the day,” declared Tarantino, ”if you’re not winning an award, [the Spirits are] just kind of hanging out with everybody else.” Cocktail hour at the Saturday-morning event rang in at 11:30, and the food was served family style for guests from Best Male Lead Richard Farnsworth to host Jennifer Tilly. American Beauty’s newly bearded Wes Bentley summed it up this way: ”It’s great, it’s nice…it’s casual.”

American Beauty Salute
His sister may have been robbed of an Oscar nomination for the Spy Who Shagged Me theme, ”Beautiful Stranger,” but Madonna’s brother, Christopher Ciccone, still used his restaurant Atlantic to cohost a Thursday-night, pre-sweep salute to American Beauty with the movie’s producers, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. The party was the must-have ticket for gay Hollywood, though Gwyneth Paltrow, Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson, and Kristen Johnston also stopped by.

BAFTA/Boys Don’t Cry Party
Supporting-actress nominee Samantha Morton left her month-old daughter, Esme, with a nanny just long enough to sip Earl Grey at the Oscar-eve tea party at the Loews Santa Monica Beach for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts L.A. Also in attendance were Mike Leigh and Lynn Redgrave. Meanwhile, Vondie Curtis Hall and Rosanna Arquette toasted Boys Don’t Cry at a post-Spirits party at Shutters on the Beach.

USA Party
With Artisan’s bash at the Quixote Studios shut down by fire marshals shortly after it started, USA’s salute to Being John Malkovich, held at the Hollywood club Blue, dominated the Friday-night scene. Daryl Hannah chatted up director Robert Altman, and Best Supporting Actress nominee Catherine Keener dropped by with husband Dermot Mulroney. Best Director contender Spike Jonze just tried to enjoy the moment. ”This weekend’s weird and fun, but it probably won’t hit me until Sunday,” Jonze said of the Oscars. ”It’s like when you go on a trip — it doesn’t really hit you until you’re there.”

EW Party
At the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Stipe, Edward Furlong, and Natasha Lyonne attended EW’s first-decade celebration — featuring a mini-concert by Chris Isaak, who played such hits as ”Wicked Game” before hopping on a jet to a Saturday-evening gig in Lake Tahoe.