Oscars 2011 Red Carpet and Vanity Fair Party Photos

Stars let loose at the exclusive Vanity Fair party. Jacob Bernstein navigates the crowd, chats with Natalie Portman, and spots some flirting. View photos of the revelry and red carpet.

So there weren’t many big surprises at the Oscars. The King’s Speech for Best Picture, Colin Firth for Best Actor, Natalie Portman for Best Actress, Christian Bale for Best Supporting Actor, Melissa Leo for Supporting Actress, and on and on and on.

Thankfully, there are still parties, and last night was the biggest one of them all: the Vanity Fair shindig at the Sunset Tower Hotel hosted by Graydon Carter.

Gallery: Vanity Fair Party and Oscars Red Carpet

Inside a fancy tented area in the back section of the main floor, covering the pool, we spot Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson gabbing with Gayle King as Justin Timberlake circulates nearby.

A hop, skip, and a jump away, there’s Cameron Diaz, dancing atop a banquette as flat screen TVs display the other boldfaced names trickling in.

First up, it’s Steven Tyler, who walks by the hedgerow, flanked by his daughter Liv. Next it’s Reese Witherspoon. After that, Colin Firth.

Gwyneth Paltrow is seated to the left, deep in conversation with someone we don’t recognize.

Over at the photo booth, it’s Portman, statue in one hand, the other holding her fiancé Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the film she’s just won her award for. Portman’s parents are inches away, as are Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the designers of her dress tonight, as well as many of the costumes in the film.

We ask the Black Swan star if she’ll let us hold her little gold man and she happily hands it over.

It weighs a ton.

Another guy asks to cop an Oscar feel, and when the trophy is handed to him, he does a couple of bicep curls with it.

Who needs a gym membership when you have one of these babies to play with?

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A few minutes later, Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old Best Supporting Actress nominee from True Grit, comes sauntering by. She’s still decked out in her Oscar finest, but the heels have been replaced with Converse All Stars.

Turns out she isn’t the only one who’d had enough of her fancy footwear.

Around 11 p.m., it’s teeming with celebrities.

Zooey Deschanel is standing barefoot in the archway between the bar and the back room, with her bright red, sky high Brian Atwoods in her hands, as she talks to some friends.

More Diet Cokes, more celebrity sightings: Justin Bieber and girlfriend Selena Gomez exiting the photo booth; the 2005 Academy Award-winning director Paul Haggis, fresh off his New Yorker scientology expose, getting all sorts of congratulations; 50 Cent chatting with record mogul Lyor Cohen; Quentin Tarantino, standing in the distance, wearing a parka over his tuxedo. (It doesn’t come off all night.)

Apparently, Madonna was here too, but we didn’t see her. She showed up sometime around 10 p.m. with her daughter, Lourdes, primped and posed for the cameras, then jetted off to her own late-night party that everyone’s talking about.

A friend introduces us to Marisa Tomei.

We start making conversation and she obliges, but then something in the distance catches her eye.

It’s Matthew McConaughey, and he’s sticking his tongue out at her.

Tomei flashes a big smile at him, and within milliseconds, we know our little flirtation is over.

“You can’t compete with that,” says a man to our left.

So we do another lap in the whirlpool of very famous people and nearly bang into Firth and his fellow King’s Speech winner, director Tom Hooper. They’re hanging with a group that includes Firth’s wife, Hooper’s mother, and a slew of others associated with the film.

Hooper’s mother, it turns out, is a historian herself, and as he explained in his acceptance speech, plays an active role helping him on the movies he directs.

The night before, we’d met her at the Weinstein Company party, where she confirmed that to us. “I give him an earful,” she said.

That was practically the only quote we got this weekend, because the Vanity Fair staff do not allow covering reporters to use notepads or tape-recorders; even taking notes on a cell phone is prohibited.

Movie stars, after all, love to be written about, but hate being interviewed.

Thankfully, Tom Ford is here. He compliments us on our stubble, and we are pleased by this.

Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. Ford.

Did we say he looks great? He totally does!

So does Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s inches away, reaching for Michelle Williams’ arm. She gives it to him, and they hang on for just long enough to make us wonder if something might be going on between them. But later, as he heads for the exit, there’s a beautiful woman with him, and it isn’t Williams.

Also piquing our curiosity is Josh Brolin, who’s here too, sans Diane Lane.

Trouble in paradise or just a movie shoot someplace else, we wonder? Who can say?

By 1 a.m., the star wattage starts to dim.

Anne Hathaway is by the bar, having changed into what must be her 14th dress of the evening, but Witherspoon is gone, as are Robert Downey Jr, Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock, Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Timberlake, Paul Rudd, and Hugh Jackman.

Nearby, Gerard Butler is holding court, but that does not exactly a party make.

Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton walk in hand in hand. He takes a look around and says, “See…everyone’s leaving.”

For us, it's a pumpkin moment. Time to go.

By the exits, it’s madness. Someone yells to Tarantino about a possible Weinstein Company party.

There are also reports James Franco’s having a late night soiree, but we’re cautioned not to make the trek. “His avatar might be there, but he is not,” says a source.

In front of the hotel, Chace Crawford and Adrien Brody await their cars, all of which seem to be Escalades driven by people other than themselves.

Michael Hall, from Dexter, nearly misses his ride while standing at the In-N-Out burger truck, waiting for his order. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” he says, upon being told his car is about to leave.

A few minutes later, a blue, economy-sized vehicle pulls up and a valet yells our name.

Seemingly everyone else is headed toward some other invite-only, fabulous thing, but not us. There are bags to pack, a rent-a-car to return, and an early afternoon flight to catch. Madonna’s party will have to happen for us another year.

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