Whether you're a nominee or noncombatant, the big night is all about navigating the six post-telecast parties (plus one off-campus) -- and spotting just who ends up celebrating (and who's sulking).
Off-site at Sunset Tower
CAA and partner Bryan Lourd have taken over the hotel's restaurant (also the locale for the Vanity Fair Oscar party) for the agency's off-campus affair. It's a good move. The HFPA has been notoriously unfriendly to agents (the organization feels they can get stars for the show without them, and the agents drive the HFPA crazy asking for tickets to the event), so it's best for an agency to locate on another piece of real estate. Plus CAA has such a strong client list -- including Brad Pitt, Glenn Close and Meryl Streep -- that it can afford to be far from the Beverly Hilton. Says Millennium Films president Mark Gill: "CAA's party consistently tops all comers for sheer star power, the courage to keep the guest list small and a steadfast avoidance of the Beverly Hilton, which has all the charm of a Soviet bunker."
Tent Near May Co. Building
This is a night when the specialty division dominates the nominations. Fox Searchlight (president Nancy Utley) has six noms; the parent studio zero. It's a bit of a hike getting to the 80-by-80-foot tent near the former May Company space; there will be golf-cart shuttles running after the telecast. The venue's outdoor viewing deck overlooks the red-carpet arrivals, and there is also a viewing party. If The Descendants wins big and George Clooney makes this his hangout, it will be worth the jaunt. And if Glee wins in the TV awards, it could be the only party with spontaneous singing. Because the party is not on the Hilton's grounds, it's able to offer a more diverse menu from Jackson Catering. DJ Tendaji is spinning, with 600 guests expected.
HOT TICKET: The cabler has 18 nominations, but more than that it's got a tight family of talent that actually likes getting together. "I try to get to all the parties, but I love HBO because it's got fantastic energy," says ICM's Nicole Clemens. "You're out by the pool; it's got a great vibe." Although the talent list, including nominees Steve Buscemi, Laura Dern, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood, is not in the mega-star league, it's year-in, year-out one of the best parties. HBO and chairman Bill Nelson also have a stealth weapon for drawing talent: Boardwalk Empire's Martin Scorsese. Every star in Hollywood wants to work with him. This year the pool is being emptied and turned into a sunken lounge, and 22-foot walls are being built to make the outdoor space cozier.
Hilton Garage Rooftop
Having Bridesmaids (which has a strong shot in the comedy musical category) and best actress nominee Kristen Wiig is what gives this party heat. On the TV side, this will be the first year NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt will co-host. Unfortunately, it's not a great year for NBC when it comes to noms. Once again, it's 30 Rock's Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin who shine. The affair offers both a viewing for 300 and an afterparty with more than 700 attendees passing through a massive tent on the garage rooftop; the venue offers great views. They've got DJ MC Lyte and a special performance by Janelle Monae. The trick with getting into this party is navigating the line for the elevators -- the four of them work OK when used for the parking garage, less well with hundreds of impatient guests.
Hilton Stardust Room
It's really Sony Classics (10 noms) that's got the best shot at a winner -- and that's with A Separation for best foreign film. Big Sony and its chair, Amy Pascal, have a lot riding on Moneyball, but this doesn't look to be a repeat of 2011, when the studio was in the same space and ecstatic over its win for The Social Network. Deserving as it might be, a foreign-film winner doesn't create heat. On the other hand, having Moneyball's Brad Pitt with Angelina Jolie in tow; Carnage's Kate Winslet and Ides of March's Clooney does. (Clooney also is expected at the Fox party. "But we want him more," one Sony exec tells THR.) What would make the Sony party really heat up is if Midnight in Paris' Woody Allen would attend -- but he's partyphobic. The studio is limiting the afterparty guest list to 350.
Hilton Main-Floor Tent
It's the most lavish, best-produced and longest-running afterparty, but Warner's noms for Crazy Stupid Love and J. Edgar don't look strong coming into the ceremony. Still, who wouldn't want Ryan Gosling and Leonardo DiCaprio (above right) at their party? Giada De Laurentiis designed the menu offerings for the 160 guests who come for the dinner/telecast viewing and the 1,500 who pass through for the afterparty that's set in a massive octagonal tent in the hotel's conference area. The major change in this year's affair, co-hosted by studio chair Barry Meyer (above left): no band. Sad, as this was the one Globe party where people actually danced. "For me, its always a toss-up between HBO and InStyle," says Access Hollywood's Billy Bush. "InStyle also has a good venue and great people-watching -- always a really fun party."
Old Trader Vic's
HOT TICKET: Harvey Weinstein (above left) loves throwing parties even when he's a long shot to win -- and he's far from that this year with 12 nominations, including ones for The Artist, Iron Lady and My Week With Marilyn. Meeting Artist director Michel Hazanavicius (Ar-zahn-a-vishus is close to the way it's pronounced) -- the new hot talent in town -- is bound to be a draw. Throw in Michelle Williams and W.E.'s Madonna (above right) and Weinstein's in a great position. The company will have a tented area attached to the former Trader Vic's site, with 1,000 guests expected. "Harvey has the best guest list because he's been in business with so many stars for so many years," says Entertainment Tonight exec producer Linda Bell Blue. "He's got the relationships."