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Inside the Governors Ball with Oscar winners and nominees

A man holds an Oscar statue.
Robert Downey Jr. at the Governors Ball following the 96th Academy Awards in Hollywood. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The Governors Ball, just a short escalator ride up from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood, is the first stop for winners and many of the other luminaries in the Oscars audience before they branch out to more prestigious (and hard-to-get-into) parties.

Nonetheless, it’s the best place to catch a glimpse of the winners on a small stage in the back of the ballroom where they go to get their statues engraved. (Among those we saw mounting the dais Sunday evening were supporting actress winner Da'Vine Joy Randolph in a shade of light blue that nicely complemented the Oscars art mounted above.)

Servers cut cramped zigzags across the packed ballroom wielding trays of bubbling hot mac ’n’ cheese, truffle pizza and petite cheeseburgers with tiny paper cones full of crisp fries while winners waited with their handlers to see their statues marked with their wins. As always, chef Wolfgang Puck’s tiny gold chocolate Oscars were piled high on the dessert table.

Read more: The top 5 takeaways from the 2024 Oscars, according to those who were there

Other star sightings at the ball included "Barbie" writer-director Greta Gerwig, laughing on her way in; supporting actor winner Robert Downey Jr. ("Oppenheimer"), who kept largely to himself — looking introspective before being swept out of the room with his statue; and "American Fiction" nominee Jeffrey Wright, who sat with a few friends close at a far side of the room. "Poor Things" nominee Mark Ruffalo was gregarious on the escalator ride to the party, joking about how he really thought he might be replaced by pal Oscar Isaac during the shoot and how he didn’t quite realize the enormous effect the film would have after it was released.

But attracting as much attention as any of the honorees were Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, who was thronged by well-wishers, fellow executives like Disney Television Group's Craig Erwich and a gaggle of press, and Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the well-received telecast on Disney-owned ABC.

Kimmel kept an even keel as he accepted praise for handling a tough gig — including one passerby who called him "the best Oscars host ever" — and seemed undaunted about reopening his social media after a late-ceremony joke about former President Trump, who criticized Kimmel's performance on Truth Social. Whatever he does, Kimmel sighed, "half the people hate it and the other half love it."

A man and woman in a party setting.
Erika Alexander and Sterling K. Brown at the Academy Awards' Governors Ball. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
A group of people smile for the camera.
Billie Eilish at the Governors Ball after the 96th Academy Awards. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
A woman smiles at the camera.
Ava DuVernay at the Academy Awards' Governors Ball. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
A boy and a woman move through a crowd.
Laura Karpman at the Academy Awards' Governors Ball. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Bartenders at a circular bar with a giant Oscar display in the middle.
Bartenders stand at the ready before the Academy Awards' Governors Ball. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Three men holding Oscars smile for the camera.
Ben Proudfoot, left, Mstyslav Chernov and Kris Bowers at the Governors Ball after the 96th Academy Awards. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
A woman and a man hold Oscars and smile for the camera.
Jennifer Lame and Cillian Murphy at the Academy Awards' Governors Ball. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Two men hold their Oscars, one with a Godzilla statue in the other hand.
Takashi Yamazaki, left, and Christopher Nolan at the Governors Ball following the 96th Academy Awards. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
A man and woman moving through a crowd.
Holly Waddington at the Academy Awards' Governors Ball. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.