04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
The established -- in the forms of Julia Roberts, Geoffrey Rush, Ellen Burstyn, James Woods and last year's Oscar winner Hilary Swank -- mixed with such newcomers as Julia Stiles, Laura Linney, and Javier Bardem at New York's Tavern on the Green Tuesday night for the National Board of Review awards for last year's movies. Stiles, star of this past weekend's No. 1 "The Last Dance," arrived solo to be part of the ensemble-acting award for her role in the comedy "State and Main." (By contrast, that other Julia -- Roberts -- arrived with her "Erin Brockovich" director Steven Soderbergh in a black Jeep-like truck.) Stiles, a Columbia University freshman, told PEOPLE that she is seeing her free time vanish. "I am now getting stressed out because school started today, but Cliff notes help me," she said with a smile. Swarthy Spanish star Bardem, who was named bast actor for his role in "Before Night Falls," practiced his English with the press by reciting "A,B,C,D," and then admitting that he's trying not to get his hopes up too high for an Oscar nomination. "I've survived without an Oscar until now," he quipped (in very good English), "so I suppose I can continue to survive without one." Since her Oscar victory, Swank told PEOPLE, "My life hasn't changed, and I get more job opportunities, but other than that I'm still the same old Hillary. I'm just trying to go with the flow and learn and grow." A self-proclaimed homebody, Swank said that on Monday she threw a birthday party for her hubby, actor Chad Lowe. "I got him an electric scooter," she revealed, "so to see him open it up it was really fun."