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Tom Cruise is ‘Top Gun’ at Oscar nominees lunch, Academy calls Will Smith response ‘inadequate’

LOS ANGELES – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Janet Yang celebrated the 186 nominated filmmakers at the 95th annual Oscars nominees luncheon on Monday, while also criticizing the group's handling of last year's Oscars controversy.

Tom CruiseJamie Lee CurtisMichelle YeohAustin Butler, Angela Bassett, Steven Spielberg, Michelle Williams and Brendan Fraser were among the stars celebrating their Academy Award nominations at the glitzy event held at the Beverly Hilton.

The festivities were not a complete lovefest. Yang used her speech to highlight last year's “inadequate” response to the infamous Will Smith slap and promised to handle any future incidents more effectively.

Here's what happened at the luncheon:

Tom Cruise holds court with A-list talent at the Oscar nominees luncheon

Austin Butler ("Elvis"), left, and Tom Cruise ("Top Gun: Maverick") mingle at the Oscar nominees luncheon.

The annual luncheon is all about Hollywood celebrities schmoozing and greeting each other, but “Top Gun: Maverick” producer and star Cruise brought it to the next level. Standing on the ballroom stairs with fellow producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise spent quality time with fellow nominees including “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” star Bassett, “Elvis” star Butler, “Everything, Everywhere All at Once” nominees Curtis and Ke Huy Quan, Marlee Matlin and directors Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro.

Quan asked for a selfie with Cruise, which is becoming an awards show staple for the first-time nominee. Cruise obliged. And when a group of filmmakers approached for a group selfie, Cruise insisted on doing the shot again with better lighting.

Academy president Janet Yang addressed Will Smith's assault of presenter Chris Rock during last year's Oscars – and spoke of the organizing group's delayed response to the “unprecedented event.” Twelve days after the confrontation, the Academy's Board of Governors banned Smith – who was allowed to remain at the ceremony and went on to win best actor – from attending the Oscars for 10 years.

“What happened on stage was fully unacceptable and the response from the organization was inadequate,” Yang said. “We learned from this. The Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, particularly in times of crisis. We must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively. You should and can expect no less from us going forward.”

Yang also spoke about keeping winners' speeches “short, sweet and to the point” for the live TV event. Each award will be allowed 45 seconds total for the speech, which includes the walk to the podium.

“If an award is shared with a group, either one person speaks for the group or each person can thank one person, and then we have to move on,” said Yang, who added that all awards will be presented live on the broadcast. “So we need you to work with us. This is live television, after all.”

All nominees were summoned to the stage one by one to receive applause and pose for a traditional group photo. Curtis and “Wakanda Forever” director Ryan Coogler were the first two called to the podium, applauding for fellow nominees while sharing laughs. Cruise and Quan gave emphatic fist pumps as they took their respective spots. The final nominee called up was “Pinocchio” director Del Toro, before Academy photographers captured the moment.

Notable nominees including “Blonde” star Ana de Armas and “To Leslie” actress Andrea Riseborough (whose awards campaign was investigated by the Academy, but was ultimately allowed to keep the nomination) did not attend the event.

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