It was Oscar night, the grand finale of the awards season, and the biggest names in Hollywood were all talking about one thing on the red carpet.
"I'm cold," best actress nominee Naomi Watts said outside the Kodak Theatre, snuggling up to boyfriend Heath Ledger. "That is overwhelming everything."
"Brrr," her competition, newcomer Keisha Castle-Hughes, said.
"You must be freezing," best actor contender Jude Law told a reporter.
The weather? Some of the biggest celebrities in the world gather under one roof and the hottest topic is a slight chill? That must be what happens when most of the awards are shoo-ins, the jokes are safe (unless your name is Pete Rose) and the outfits are even safer.
"I don't think it was a particularly sexy show," "Sex and the City" star Kim Cattrall said, following Andre 3000, Jack Black and Nicolas Cage, among others, into Vanity Fair's post-Oscars party. "Pretty straightforward. A very calm Oscar night. No surprises."
Going into Sunday's 76th annual Academy Awards, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" was the heavy favorite, and the movie lived up to expectations, winning every category it was nominated in (see "'Return Of The King' Crowned 11 Times At Academy Awards"). The landslide became fodder for host Billy Crystal, and some actors said they were already looking forward to not having a Peter Jackson epic to contend with in 2005.
"Lord of the what?," Ben Stiller joked on the red carpet. " 'Starsky & Hutch' sweep! Not the awards, the floor."
"Snoop, guaranteed best supporting actor [winner]," Owen Wilson, Stiller and Snoop's "Starsky & Hutch" co-star, predicted. "Although I'm worried Ben and I might cancel out each other's votes."
Even one of the stars of "The Lord of the Rings" had more interesting things to talk about before the show. "We just met Jack Black," Liv Tyler bragged. "I said, 'I love you,' and [sang] 'Ahhh!' I think he was a little freaked out."
Weather aside, the red carpet was similar to the actual show in that there was no one moment that had everyone talking — no swan dress this year. Not that it was quiet outside the theater.
"It's a lot louder than you would think," presenter Sandra Bullock noted. "It's sort of like cattle going in to slaughter."
If there was one mildly hot topic by the time the night came to an end, it was some of the political commentary snuck into the show by Crystal, best actor winner Sean Penn and the producers of the opening segment, which found last year's noise-maker, Michael Moore, getting crushed to death.
"I thought it was wonderful," Rosario Dawson said at the Vanity Fair party. "It's important for people to walk away thinking about more than just what people wore and how much they cried, but their thoughts on what's going on in the world. Actors have unique viewpoints because they travel so much."
"You have millions listening to you, so if you have something important to say, say it," Cedric the Entertainer added.
Cattrall offered a slightly different take. "It's an individual moment, and you have to follow your heart," she said. "But at the same time, this is celebrating filmmaking, and you have to keep that in mind."
Angie Harmon, whose highlight was seeing Penn win, wasn't bothered by the actor's subtle reference to the missing weapons of mass destruction, although she said she isn't a fan of preaching politics at awards shows.
"You know what, take the night off, relax and support each other," she said. "Tonight the politics are out."
Besides, there are more important things going on.
"This is definitely the best people-watching on the planet," Harmon said. "The best is finding the random wacko that got in and watching them work the room. Unless you're like, 'Is that my husband?' "
Corey Moss, with reporting by Ryan J. Downey and Su Chin PakSu Chin Pak