Hollywood Elite Celebrate Cinema at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ Opening Gala

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The Academy Museum celebrated its long-awaited opening with a star-studded gala that included guests such as Lady Gaga, Nicole Kidman and Spike Lee, while Tom Hanks and Sophia Loren were among the icons receiving honors Saturday night.

The Opening Gala, co-chaired by Jason Blum, Ava Duvernay, and Ryan Murphy, comes amid a week of festivities culminating in the museum’s public opening on Sept. 30.

The gala included DuVernay presenting the inaugural Vantage Award to Sankofa director Haile Gerima; Ted Sarandos presented Sophia Loren with the inaugural Visionary Award. Bob Iger, Annette Bening, and Tom Hanks were also recognized with the Pillar Award for their leadership of the recently completed Campaign for the Academy Museum.

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Bob Iger, Annette Bening, Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman pose onstage during the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures: Opening Gala.
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Produced and designed by Opening Gala Creative Director Lisa Love and Artistic Director Raúl À vila, the evening was inspired by Academy Award-winning movie Spirited Away, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

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Sophia Loren
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The evening began with guests previewing the museum’s highly immersive exhibitions, including a retrospective of the work of Miyazaki inside the Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Gallery. As cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were passed on the roof of the Saban Buiding, Laura Dern, an Academy Museum trustee, gave a welcome speech. Guests then walked through a whimsical Miyazaki inspired “tree tunnel” across the Barbra Streisand Bridge to a dinner under the stars on the Dolby Family Terrace, prepared by Wolfgang Puck Catering.

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Jaya Harper and Laura Dern
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Museum director Bill Kramer was graciously acknowledged by many who took the stage. Despite a few jokes about the party’s design and architecture due to its domed glass ceiling (Hanks noted at one point The Riddler might show up or that the terrace would be in the next Dr. Strange film), Iger made sure to praise architect Renzo Piano for the museum’s design.

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Directors Chloé Zhao and Guillermo del Toro
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

At various points in the evening, Ruth Carter could be seen checking out the display of a costume she designed for Black Panther in the exhibition spaces. Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom chatted with Barry Diller, designer Zac Posen spoke about working on the costumes for the upcoming Mark Rylance-starring film The Outfit, Cher and legendary designer Bob Mackie hung with Angela Bassett and Nicole Kidman had her arm around her Nine Perfect Strangers co-star Regina Hall. Lady Gaga closed out the evening with a slew of jazz standards. At one point, the singer thanked Spike Lee (who has a room inside the museum dedicated to his cinematic work and influences) for attending, despite having a family member who was ill with COVID-19.

Presented by Rolex, founding supporter and official watch partner of the Academy Museum, with leadership support from J.P. Morgan, the evening raised more than $11 million to support the Academy Museum’s access, education, and programming initiatives.

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