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The Parties

This year’s fetes may have been low-key, but they weren’t short on star power

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Vanity Fair Mortons

The red carpet at the VF soiree met the same fate as Oscar’s: There was no receiving line this year. What the shindig did have (besides metal detectors) was tobacco: Cigarettes and cigars were everywhere, and smoking, in a very un-L.A. twist, was encouraged. The simple dinner — steak and chicken potpies — was followed by sugar cookies and lollipops printed with the faces of Hollywood’s once and future studs, among them Jack Nicholson, Jude Law, Dennis Quaid, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Tom Hanks. (Suckers!) Crabby exes Ryan O’Neal and Farrah Fawcett — apparently reunited — arrived 45 minutes late and squabbled like, well, an old couple. But the spotlight duo was undoubtedly songbirds/lovebirds Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, who sweetly held hands as they worked the room. At 11:30 p.m., Oscar runners-up Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Nicolas Cage made their entrances, proving it’s not just winners who party hard on Oscar night.

Elton John/InStyle West Hollywood

Thousands of yards of silk and fresh daffodils made for a decidedly upbeat atmosphere, helped along by the $700,000 raised for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Guests, including Rachel Griffiths, Nia Vardalos, Nic Cage, and Ed Harris, vied for table prizes (like Jimmy Choo shoes) while Sir Elton himself rocked the house. His musical set ended with Anastacia and John Mayer joining him on a scorching version of ”Bitch Is Back.”

Miramax St. Regis

It was a fete worse than death until the Chicago crew — Best Supporting Actress winner Catherine Zeta-Jones and her entourage, including hubby Michael Douglas — got the operation into full swing. (Banquettes reserved for the AWOL casts of Gangs of New York and The Quiet American went untouched.) Asked about his mood in the moment before Chicago was called for Best Picture, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein replied, ”I wasn’t nervous.” So much for a modest affair.

Scene and Heard Pssst! Hear this? Some tales from the evening where cameras weren’t allowed

Lo, Adrien! During EW’s Oscar party at Elaine’s in New York City, actors Alan Cumming and Chloe Sevigny and musician Rufus Wainwright huddled together to witness Adrien Brody’s jaw-dropping Best Actor win.

Lord of the Bling At the Governors Ball, an affable Sean ”Gamgee” Astin drew the attention of the waitstaff when he took the liberty of pouring plenty of champagne for his companions at the Lord of the Rings table.

Stair Master Michael Caine may have lost the Best Actor Oscar, but he won the hearts of fellow ”nonwinners” Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Diane Lane when he led the way up a broken escalator to the Governors Ball.

Colin All Bars Arriving at the Kodak Theatre, party boy Colin Farrell immediately asked, ”Where’s the bar?” and bellied up accordingly. Throughout the night, Farrell’s liver struggled to keep up in the best supporting category.