Plenty of the big events during awards season get broadcast on TV for us all to enjoy, from the precursor awards like the Golden Globes to the red carpet to, of course, the Oscars themselves. But one of my favorite traditions is one you never get to see on TV. Every year, a few weeks before the awards show, all of the nominees attend a luncheon held in their honor, a private-ish event that allows superstars like George Clooney and Brad Pitt to rub elbows with fellow nominees who aren't nearly as well known. There are reporters on hand to share the choice quotes-- Thompson on Hollywood has good write-ups if that's what you're looking for-- but my favorite part is always the big class photo they take. Check it out below, and definitely click on it to see the big, mega-sized version-- you'll need to look closely to pick out the familiar faces in the crowd.

The nominees aren't assigned to stand anywhere in particular and nobody seems to pull rank, which explains how you struggle to find Jonah Hill and Melissa McCarthy in the pack but see a guy I don't recognize at all sitting on top of Oscar himself. The best part, though, is looking at which people wind up standing next to each other, and wondering if they chose to be buddies or just got thrown in there together. Were Michelle Williams and Aaron Sorkin making small talk before they got put on the top of the bleachers? How did Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and Rooney Mara all wind up together in the very corner. And-- my very favorite-- what were Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese chatting about while they waited for the picture to be taken? The mind reels.

In case you've forgotten, the Oscars are happening on February 26, and there will be plenty more awards pomp and circumstance around here to celebrate it in the meantime.

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