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Final voting for the 86th Academy Awards is just four days away, but Monday allowed this year's nominees one more stress-free event before it all gets "oh, so serious" again. For the public at large, the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon is a celebration of the honorees as they all crowd into one room to take the "Class of" photo. It's also a huge press opportunity where the contenders can subtly communicate their final pitches in hopes that a stray Academy member will read it or hear about it on TV.
According to media on hand who'd endured the luncheon interview room before, the talent that wandered in to take questions was much more impressive than in years past. No doubt, just a reflection of how competitive the season has been and how much is still on the line. While Jennifer Lawrence, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender were unable to attend, contenders such as Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Sandra Bullock, Lupita Nyong'o, Bono, Pharrell Williams and Amy Adams all stopped by for a light afternoon meal.
Here are the nominees' thoughts on the day, their films and the Oscar season in their own words.
June Squibb (Best Supporting Actress, "Nebraska")
On being invited into the club:
"It's very exciting. I feel like I'm a part of a community; those of us who are lucky enough to be nominated are gathering to celebrate together. I saw Lupita [Nyong'o] upstairs and other people I've known."
Lupita Nyong'o (Best Supporting Actress, "12 Years a Slave")
On whether she saw all this coming:
"I didn't expect anything. No, there is no way I could have dreamt any of this stuff up. It has been an incredible journey. It's an adventure and a very exiting one and a very rewarding one and a very revealing one as well."
On her birthplace, Mexico:
"I have a warm place in my heart for Mexico and I do for my other country as well, Kenya. I have been celebrated in other places and also in America and many different places in the world. That is a humbling experience to have so many people embrace you. That is the beauty of film. It brings so many people together."
On the nomination and thoughts on winning:
"It's a recognition of the highest -- everyone regards the Oscars as the ultimate stamp of approval and I don't know. I guess we'll see."
Alfonso Cuaron (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, "Gravity")
On what his film means to audiences:
"First of all it's the emotional experience of the film. We go through adversity every single day of our life and those adversities shape who we are. Our attitude toward adversity. In many ways it's about embracing their adversity."
On "Gravity's" Latino support
"I'm very grateful with the Mexican crowd and the whole Spanish gang who have been so supportive about this process. Since the moment the movie has been released through all the celebrations."
Alexander Payne (Best Director, "Nebraska")
On what films served as inspirations:
"That's always a hard question to answer. I just liked the screenplay. I just liked the deadpan humor and the sadness underneath and the austerity and it was about kindness. I just saw the Oscar-nominated short documentaries yesterday and they are fantastic. I recommend watching the Osar-nominated short documentaries. No concrete films inspired it. I was inspired by my own relationship with my own aging parents."
Jonah Hill (Best Supporting Actor, "The Wolf of Wall Street")
On reuniting with Leonardo DiCaprio on a new film:
"We wanted to work together again and we have the same manager, Rick [Yorn], and he was trying to find another project for us to act in. And this story about Richard Jewell came to us and we were both so moved by it it was something we had to do."
On working for scale in "The Wolf of Wall Street":
I wouldn't care honestly. Martin Scorsese is my favorite filmmaker of all time. "Goodfellas" is the movie that made me want to make movies. Money is never a concern [when you can work] with people like Martin Scorsese. I would paint his house if he asked me to.
Does he still have his unused acceptance speech for "Moneyball?":
"It's in my safe. I figured I could just change some of the names from the 'Moneyball' speech. The possibility of winning seems so insane to me. It seems so indulgent to me. I guess I will write one just in the one-in-a-billion chance it happens."