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GOVERNORS BALL
Forget the fancy frocks. "The Governors Ball is one of the most beautiful things about the Academy Awards," declared Marcia Gay Harden. "There's food!" After sitting through the nearly four-hour ceremony, hungry hobbits and other famished film stars streamed into the Kodak Theatre's Grand Ballroom to fill up before heading out. The first post-ceremony stop, the ball is a chance for winners to toast their victories (the Return of the King and Lost in Translation casts raised a glass), for runners-up to unwind ("I'm having a great time, are you kidding?" said a Coppola-hopping Diane Keaton; nearby, Jude Law smooched girlfriend Sienna Miller), and for players to plot the rest of their evening. Charlize Theron's boyfriend Stuart Townsend made no secret of their plans: "Party after party," he said, "till we drop!"

VANITY FAIR PARTY

Party Time!

Vanity Fair's famously eclectic mix included civilians, stars and even a moon-walker, astronaut Buzz Aldrin

After the final envelope is opened and the last agent thanked, every celebrity has a plan—and most of those plans include Vanity Fair's top-line do, a tough ticket that draws a rich mix of the famous from showbiz and beyond. With the adrenaline still flowing like champagne, and the champagne flowing like water, Oscar laureates Charlize Theron, Sean Penn, Renée Zellweger and Tim Robbins mixed and mingled—and stargazed just like everyone else.

Putting on the Ritz
How do you cater a sit-down meal at Mortons for 150 of Oscar's intimate friends? For a start, engage Patrick Woodroffe, who designed the lighting for Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee concerts at Buckingham Palace. Then unleash chef Lorenzo Roman; set up TVs to view the ceremony; and bedeck the tables with Asprey silver napkin rings, ashtrays and match strikers. That said, what did Jay Leno like best about the V.F. party? "The free food!"

ELTON JOHN/IN STYLE PARTY

What a Knight!

Sir Elton John showed stars a good time for a good cause at his AIDS-benefit bash

You didn't have to be at the Oscars to do the Oscars. For about 350 guests, including Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, the Osbournes and Donald Trump, the place to watch the Awards was the Elton John AIDS Foundation/IN STYLE/Bentley Motors party held at the Marquee at Pearl in West Hollywood. Entry fee: $2,500. "People are paying good money; you have to give them good value," said the host, who brought partner David Furnish and spaniel Arthur. "Arthur's wearing his Gucci collar," said Elton. "He's not going to get too spoiled, I hope."