LOS ANGELES — “You can see my tattoo?” Halle Berry asked in the early hours of Monday morning, when a reporter spotted petals peering out from the plunging back of her Atelier Versace dress.
“It’s a sunflower,” the actress said of a tattoo devised to camouflage her ex-husband’s name.
Accidents happen, perhaps none bigger than the presentation of the best picture award to the wrong film. Predictably, a moment destined for a thousand Oscars blooper reels was the talk of the 23rd annual Vanity Fair Oscar party, hosted by Graydon Carter in a pavilion connected to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
Much about a buzzy evening served to remind an observer of the role that chance and mischance play in any Hollywood success. Working actors know the odds of a lightning strike are higher than those of finding oneself among the countless stellar beings at the Vanity Fair party.
Held in a room banked with white hydrangeas and rimmed by mileslong bars, where white-coated servers dispensed Dom Pérignon and Casa Dragones tequila, the event, though mobbed, was smaller than in previous years and smacked of a return to the exclusivity and glamour some complained it surrendered when it moved from its longtime setting in the Sunset Tower Hotel.
Famous faces in random juxtapositions were everywhere, pairings reminiscent of the “Impossible Interviews” caricatures that Miguel Covarrubias drew for Vanity Fair back in the 1930s. Many had just arrived from the Governors Ball.
Look right and there stood two six-footers, Caitlyn Jenner and Josh Hartnett, shoulder to shoulder. Turn left and Dev Patel was towering over itty-bitty Janelle Monáe. Wrapped in a Gucci bathrobe coat, Jared Leto stood clasped in the embrace of Bruce Bozzi, the husband of the Creative Artists Agency honcho Bryan Lourd.
“I know now how lucky I am” to have stayed employed in Hollywood for two decades, said Adrien Brody, who was piped by Vanity Fair as the next big thing in 1998, only to have his role in Terrence Malick’s “The Line Red Line” left on the cutting room floor. The Oscar came four years later. Probabilities suggest it would never have happened at all. “Now I find myself grateful just to be in the room,” he said.
Javier Bardem hovered into sight just then, pursuing a waitress bearing a tray of salted caramels. Alongside him — remora to his Great White — was the chiseled actor John Kortajarena, guiltlessly popping sweets. “Bad for you, but really good stuff,” he said.
So, too, were the In-N-Out burgers that are customary at this party, the French fries from Bouchon and the paper bags of truffled popcorn that Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was scarfing down.
“Have you seen my Picasso Rivera show?” Mr. Govan asked, while also promoting his latest project and making call-soon gestures to the producer Brian Grazer across the room.
Jessica Alba glided by with her husband, Cash Warren, in search of the photo booths, and the actress Patricia Clarkson paused to survey a mob of tabloid-recognizable people whose expressions were, unfortunately, in many cases too deliberately paralyzed to discern.
“We’re all very fortunate,” Ms. Clarkson said. “I know I am. I’m 57 years old and have a very good life. I also have a face that still moves.”
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