2018 Oscar nominees luncheon: Kobe Bryant, Timothee Chalamet among 175 in Class of 2018 photo [VIDEO]

The 2018 Academy Awards luncheon on Feb. 5 brought together a whopping 175 of the 205 Oscar nominees. The most popular contender turned out to be the unlikeliest: NBA great Kobe Bryant who co-produced “Dear Basketball,” an animated short that is in the running on March 4. He was besieged by requests for selfies throughout the affair. Bryant, who would have towered over all the other nominees in the class photo, was given a seat in the front row next to the oversized Oscar statue to avoid this problem. Above: Watch academy governor Laura Dern introduce the nominees individually as they assemble for this historic photo.

Among those joining Bryant onstage were a slew of contenders in the top categories. Among these were all five nominees for Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (“Phantom Thread”), Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”), Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”), and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”).

Of the 20 acting nominees, 14 were in attendance including three of the five Best Actor contenders: Timothee Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name”), Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”), and Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”). Past Oscar champs Daniel Day-Lewis (“Phantom Thread”) and Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”) skipped the festivities.

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations: Full list of Academy Awards nominees in all 24 categories

Also MIA was one-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Fargo”) who is the frontrunner to pikc up an Academy Awards bookend for her riveting performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” The four other Best Actress nominees — Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”), Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”), Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”), and Meryl Streep (“The Post”) — were among those breaking bread.

Likewise, four of the five nominees for Best Supporting Actress were there: Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”), and Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”). Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”), who opens in London’s West End on Feb. 6 in an acclaimed production of Eugene O’Neill‘s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” was unable to make the transatlantic trip.

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations by movie: ‘The Shape of Water’ leads with 13 Academy Awards bids, but how many will it win?

And three of the five Best Supporting Actor candidates were in attendance: Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”), Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”), and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). Sending regrets were Woody Harrelson (“Three Billboards”) and Christopher Plummer (“All the Money in the World”).

PREDICT the Oscar winners now; change them until March 4

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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