It’s the year’s most prestigious bar crawl. After the Academy hands out its statuettes March 23, attendees start celebrating at the Governors Ball in the Shrine Auditorium with Wolfgang Puck’s pizza. But then it’s on to the real parties. On the East Coast, there’s only one: EW’s fete at Elaine’s. But in Hollywood, there’s fierce competition for Best Party. And the nominees are:
— VANITY FAIR AT MORTONS Beginning with dinner for 120 during the telecast (Ewan McGregor, Jerry Seinfeld, Cindy Crawford, and Claire Danes will be among those chowing down), it segues into what has, in just five years, become the hottest A-list bash in town. Last year’s soiree was so good Tom Cruise didn’t even cross the street to the celebration at Eclipse for his own Jerry Maguire. Nominee equivalent: This is As Good as It Gets.
— PARAMOUNT/FOX The studios that partnered for Titanic will get together once again to raise a tent on L.A.’s Canon Drive to house an anticipated 600 to 750 guests. Expect to see a swarm of swooning Leonardo DiCaprio admirers watching for his arrival. Nominee equivalent: Titanic, of course.
— MIRAMAX AT THE POLO LOUNGE Last year the fire marshal shut down the indie giant’s overcrowded bash at the Mondrian Hotel. So this year the studio is keeping it intimate. Well, by Hollywood standards: A supper for 300 of Miramax chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein‘s closest friends, including Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Helena Bonham Carter. This will be the first time in the famed Polo Lounge’s 57-year history that it hosts a private function. Nominee equivalent: Like The Full Monty, it’s a sleeper.
— ELTON JOHN/IN STYLE AT SPAGO John will jet in from gigs in Australia to host the only big Oscar party billed as a fund-raiser. Last year, attendees raised $350,000 for his AIDS Foundation. Expected guests include Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder, and Sharon Stone. Nominee equivalent: Good Will Hunting, natch.
— DANI JANSSEN’S HOUSE PARTY The best-kept secret in Tinseltown. The widow of TV’s Fugitive David Janssen keeps her guest list under wraps and forbids any press. Additional lures include her homemade monkey bread. ”They know each other, it’s comfortable, and it’s private,” says Janssen. Past attendees include Clint Eastwood. Nominee equivalent: Now, that’s what we call L.A. Confidential. — Bill Higgins and Tricia Laine