After nearly a decade of anticipation, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open on Thursday, September 30, in Los Angeles. To toast the occasion on Saturday night, a room of Covid-compliant Oscar winners, history-makers, and hopefuls took a trip down the green carpet, a right past Dorothy’s ruby slippers, and a left under a massive fiberglass shark from Jaws, before crossing over the Barbra Streisand bridge to the top floor of the Renzo Piano-designed glass dome for the Opening Night Gala. Creative director Lisa Love and Artistic Director Raul Ávila transformed the 360 degree vista into a modern Cocoanut Grove complete with 30 palm trees, a band stand, and a fleet of horns. The evening recalled the Golden Age of Hollywood, and included toasts by Tom Hanks, Bob Iger, Annette Benning, Ava DuVernay, Nicole Kidman, and Ted Sarandos. Admission (seats sold for upwards of $50,000) raised money for the museum’s access, education, and programming initiatives, and honored the Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima and Italian supernova Sophia Loren, with help from co-chairs DuVernay, Jason Blum, and Ryan Murphy. The host committee included industry titans Spike Lee, Brian Lourd, Ralph Lauren, Barry Diller, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Vanity Fair’s own Radhika Jones, as well as the museum’s director, Bill Kramer, and its Chief Artistic and Programming officer, Jacqueline Stewart.
Everywhere you looked on Saturday night, legends and superstars were celebrating. John Waters laughed with Angela Bassett. Warren Beatty greeted well-wishers. Sarandos clinked glasses with Guillermo del Toro. Denis Villeneuve tried to avoid spoilers about his new sci-fi epic, Dune, while chatting with a bartender. Youn Yuh-jung received some belated praise for her Oscar-winning turn in Minari. Maggie Gyllenhaal swept in after promoting her directorial debut, The Lost Daughter, on the festival tour. Halle Berry hugged Nicole Avant. JJ Abrams said something that got a big laugh from Benedict Cumberbatch. Katy Perry gave Olivia Rodrigo some advice and her phone number.
As if all there weren’t a glittering enough of a send-off for the the museum, Lady Gaga closed the night with an hour-long set of big band jazz standards, including classics by Cole Porter and Edith Piaf, and—last but not least—a rendition of “New York, New York” dedicated to Lee, which inspired Cher to stand, Tiffany Haddish to twerk, and Regina King to scream, “We love you, Gaga!”