Kevin Winter/Getty Images
February 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM EST

On March 2, the film industry’s highest honors will be handed out, and the line between winners and losers will be clearly drawn. But on Monday, in the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s Ballroom, everyone was still a winner as more than 150 Oscar nominees assembled for the annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills.

“It’s very exciting [to be here]. I feel like I am a part of a community,” said Best Supporting Actress nominee June Squibb (Nebraska), who was the first familiar face to grace the press room with her smiling and grateful presence. “Those of us lucky enough to be nominated are gathering to celebrate together.”

She was one of several of the more familiar nominated faces to drop by the press-conference style proceedings, which were so simple, courteous, and peaceful that Gravity gal Sandra Bullock quipped, “This is so civil. I’m uncomfortable.”

Read on for other memorable moments and quotes from the event:

Matthew McConaughey, Best Actor nominee, Dallas Buyers Club: “We have six nominations for this little film we never thought we’d get made. Getting it made was such a huge victory, and all of the sudden now we have a real presence here. That surprised me. I’ve had a good time. I had heard how laborious [awards season] could be. I have not found it laborious. It is a lot to do and places to be but I think I could talk about my experience as Ron Woodroof and this film until the day I die without getting too exhausted.”

Cate Blanchett, Best Actress nominee, Blue Jasmine: [Asked whether she kept any of the fabulous designer costumes used in the film] “They all had to go back at midnight. I think the entire costume budget was less than the Hermes bag, which was also borrowed.”

Bradley Cooper, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, American Hustle: [In response to a reporter’s comment that he always seems so honored and grateful for Academy attention] “It would be hard not to be. I get to do the things I dreamt of as a kid, like working now with Clint Eastwood and being able to work twice with David O. Russell. I am absolutely living the dream. And to be able to be a part of this kind of thing [motions around him to mean the Oscars] two years in a row, I just keep waiting for [them] to take me away and say, ‘Sorry, sir, what are you doing here?’ Maybe it’s the way I was raised.”

Amy Adams, Best Actress nominee, American Hustle: [On what she plans to wear Oscar night] “Sometimes I feel like I am dressing in costume on the red carpet, and this year I want to feel like myself. So I guarantee when I am on the red carpet this year, you can know that’s a dress I would wear. It’s not a character’s dress.”

[On working with director David O. Russell] “David has created two wonderful and really diverse roles for me, and I’m really grateful for that. David has a way of challenging an actor past what they think they are capable of. It’s almost in the way that he keeps on you until you give him what he saw in you when he wrote the role. It’s a wonderful, complicated, and challenging thing, but at the end of the day you get to create these characters that hadn’t existed anywhere.”

David O. Russell, Best Director nominee, American Hustle: “I am definitely a late bloomer and I definitely needed to grow up, which happened between the first set of movies and the second set of movies. I feel very clear, and that can only happen after you’ve been humbled and got your head on straight. It was all very personal to me. My dad had a comb-over. My mom and my ex-girlfriend had that Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress. Both of my parents were immigrant kids who reinvented themselves in the world of publishing. We were the first family to move to the suburbs. [Our] New York accents didn’t fit in. That was a big journey, so I relate to that deeply and personally. I’ve had to see my son go through many reincarnations due to his challenges. He taught me that you can’t afford to have a negative attitude, or as Jack Nicholson has said, ‘Try to incline yourself upwards as much as possible, because the world will easily incline you downward.’ Second, third, and fourth chances are what it is all about.”

Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Actor nominee, The Wolf of Wall Street: “There is a lot of disgusting behavior in this movie. It was very much a reflection of this culture. We wanted this to be a cautionary tale. We wanted to accurately portray this darker nature of our culture, and it was a reaction to what happened in 2008. We were all playing characters with no moral compass who gave into every temptation possible. Marty [Wolf director Martin Scorsese] has never been a didactic type of director that explains or spoon-feeds an audience what the ramifications of the actions are. He goes in and says, ‘Look, I’m not going to judge these characters. I’m going to show them for what they are.’ He purposely didn’t cut away to the victims of this type of behavior. You have a protagonist who doesn’t get his due in proper in the end, and that is also a reflection of reality. That’s what Marty does. It is portraying a part of humanity in all its truth, and those are the types of films I want to be involved with.”

Lupita Nyong’o, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, 12 Years a Slave: “There is no way I could have dreamt any of this stuff. It has been an incredible journey, a very exciting, rewarding and revealing adventure. Everybody regards the Oscars as the ultimate stamp of approval. It is a humbling experience to have so many people embrace you and identify with you. That’s the beauty of film. It brings people closer together.“

Jared Leto, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, Dallas Buyers Club: “We were born very poor and into pretty humble surroundings. My mother always wanted to do something better with her life and for her children. She was a dreamer and a worker. The biggest lesson she taught me was to dream and then to do the work that it takes to make dreams a reality. It has been fun to bring her around. The best part of these opportunities to stand up and say something is to be able to thank the people who have believed in you for so long. I could spend every single one of these events thanking my mother. She’s the best.”

“I don’t dress up very much. I don’t wear a lot of suits or sports jackets, but you have to have a little fun with it and you want to feel like yourself. Not like your agent.”

Alfonso Cuaron, Best Director nominee, Gravity: [Asked what he hopes people take away from seeing his film] “The emotional experience of the film. We go through adversity almost every single day of our lives and periods of big adversity and those adversities shape who we are and our attitude towards adversity. In many ways, it is about embracing those adversities.”

Alexander Payne, Best Director nominee, Nebraska: “Possibly half of the speaking parts in the film are from non-actors, people from rural Nebraska and Iowa. You asked if [casting locals] was difficult? It’s like law school. It’s not difficult. It’s just time-consuming. It took about a year of casting and putting out the word of rural radio and in small-town newspapers and getting the word out especially to get the retired farmers. The guy who comes up to [Bruce Dern’s character] at the bus stop answered a notice in the Des Moines Register and we fitted in his scenes between kidney dialysis. He’s been on dialysis every other day for almost 40 years, so everybody’s got a story. But we made it work because that guy is so good. He’s like from a Preston Sturges movie, that guy.”

“This is the first one I directed that I didn’t write. I just liked the screenplay, the deadpan humor, the sadness underneath, the austerity and that it was about kindness. I like when movies are about kindness. I was inspired a little bit maybe by my relationship with my own aging parents.”

Jonah Hill, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, The Wolf of Wall Street: [On whether he would work for scale as he did on Wolf should director Martin Scorsese ask again] “I wouldn’t care, honestly. Martin Scorsese is my favorite filmmaker of all time. Goodfellas is the reason I want to spend my life making movies, and money is never a concern when working with people like Martin. I would do whatever. I would paint his house if he asked me to.”

[You wrote a speech in case you won when nominated for Moneyball and never got to use it. Will you recycle it or write a new one?] “My Moneyball speech is in my safe. I figured I could just change a few of the names. No, the possibility of winning is so insane to me that it seems almost indulgent to write a speech. I guess I will, just in the one-in-a-billion chance it happens so I don’t sound stupid and make sure to thank my mom.”

Sandra Bullock, Best Actress nominee, Gravity: “I worked with the nicest, kindest, most patient group of people who all had a tremendous amount riding on them because of new technology, unknown waters. I didn’t know if I could do what they needed. I didn’t know if they could give me what I needed. It should have been a very stressful situation, but everybody was so supportive that I had one of the best filming experiences I’ve ever had. I trusted [Alfonso] 100 percent because you have the body of his work as proof. It wasn’t supposed to be a big blockbuster. It was supposed to be an avant-garde, esoteric film about loss, adversity, and space.”

Steve McQueen, Best Director nominee, 12 Years a Slave: “For me, it was always my ambition to get this book into schools from day one and to unearth someone like Solomon Northup, to unearth an American hero. It gives me great pride that we made this film — which is not bad — and resurrected this novel so that everyone here and around the world will now know his name. Before, I probably wouldn’t have done all this and gone around [on the awards circuit], but someone told me early on, ‘Steve, this movie is more important than you.’ I understood that and I took that with me. Now a great debate is occurring. Every Q&A I have done has been almost like a town hall meeting, passionate, vital, and present, and I’ve had such a great time. Can I have a couple more questions please? I love this.”

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