Commercial breaks at the Oscars offer the nominees, presenters and other stars a chance to do some quick power-mingling, stretch their legs and check their texts before the show returns to air.
Tom Hanks, always the life of the party when he’s at the Oscars, walked down the front row at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday and had a long and animated chat with Leonardo DiCaprio during the first commercial break, moments after DiCaprio’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” castmate Brad Pitt beat Hanks for best supporting actor. He later shouted back and forth with Julia Louis-Dreyfus during another commercial.
Actress Beanie Feldstein used a break in the show to gleefully run down the aisle to talk to last year’s best actress winner Olivia Colman.
Charlize Theron was especially entranced by her screen during one break, and it took Wonder Woman to snap her out of it. Gal Gadot leaned down and gave her a hug and a kiss as she passed.
While many famous nominees and presenters stride across the room to talk to their fellow stars during commercial breaks, Joaquin Phoenix was more interested in a guy with a different job.
The best actor nominee walked up and had a friendly and animated conversation toward the front of the Dolby Theatre Sunday with the guy who works intensely throughout the show to wrangle the people who fill empty seats, appearing to congratulate him on doing a tough job well.
Those droves of roaming seat-fillers work to stay invisible during the show but suddenly appear in droves during the commercials, holding up their credentials whenever their supervisor holds up his.
Commercial breaks can also provide a bonus round of applause for Oscar performers. Idina Menzel and the ensemble of international Annas and Elsas who sang “Into the Unknown” with her were still on the stage congratulating one another, laughing and hugging when the show went to commercial.
Menzel stepped to the front of the stage, gave a quick curtsy, and the crowd loudly clapped as the crew of women sailed off the stage together.
Later, the standing ovation for Cynthia Erivo’s performance of “Stand Up” from “Harriet” extended long after the cameras had moved and the house lights had gone up.