Celebrating 12 Years of The Oscars’ Most Fabulous Pre-Party

A look back at all the best moments of the intimate Chanel and Charles Finch annual fete held on the eve of the Academy Awards



The 2016 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner at Madeo, West Hollywood.


Penélope Cruz confesses she can’t recall large swaths of the evening after winning her Oscar. Kristen Stewart, Margot Robbie and Miley Cyrus recount off-duty moments spent with former Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld. And the perennial question on everyone’s lips seems to be, “is Jagger here this year?” The setting for such repartee is, of course, the annual dinner hosted by British filmmaker-turned-entrepreneur Charles Finch and Chanel held on the eve of every Academy Awards ceremony for the past 12 years. Although the party at West Hollywood’s Madeo and most recently at the Polo Lounge at Beverly Hills Hotel won’t take place this year due to the pandemic, Chanel is instead donating to The Actors Fund, the nonprofit supporting emergency Covid-19 relief efforts for entertainment industry individuals, many of whom are still unable to return to work. The hosts are also hand-delivering treats meant to celebrate key elements of the evening to this year’s guests including Brad Pitt, Carey Mulligan, Chloe Zhao, Regina King, Leonardo DiCaprio, Demi Moore, Tracee Ellis Ross, Pierce Brosnan and Glen Close who, alongside a host of other nominees, actors, directors, writers, producers and artists, will toast fashion and film at their leisure at home. Here, we look back at past parties and the legacy of the French fashion house’s role in cinema, while glancing ahead at the ways in which guests will be fêting this year.


“Each year invitations—limited to an intimate 150—continuously shift as new films with breakout stars emerge”


Pedro Almodovar at the 2020 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner; Lupita Nyong’o in Chanel at the 2019 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner.


Two things are certain at Chanel and Charles Finch’s pre-Oscar parties: mariachis and martinis. As brand ambassadors and frequent guests including the aforementioned Robbie and Stewart plus Sofia Coppola and Keira Knightley arrive, guitarróns play and the drink of choice is a martini, the host’s favorite. Finch, the son of Oscar-winning actor Peter Finch, is the CEO of Standalone Pictures and also the perennial host of an annual pre-BAFTA dinner and the Filmmakers Dinner held during the Cannes Film Festival at Hotel du Cap. This year, ingredients and required utensils are boxed alongside Finch’s recipe (shaken, not stirred) which calls for both glass and vodka to be placed in the freezer for an hour prior to serving. The glass is prepped with 3 drops of white vermouth along the rim, the shaking tin filled with ice cubes, 3.5 oz vodka and .5 oz white vermouth. After a vigorous shake and swift pour, Finch uses lemon peel to wipe the glass rim before dropping it into the drink. And olives? They’re reserved for a side garnish.


Mick Jagger and Pharrell Williams at the 2017 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner.


Each year invitations—limited to an intimate 150—continuously shift as new films with breakout stars emerge, and a spin through archival images also reveals frequent guests catching up with old friends including Nicole Kidman, Lupita Nyong’o, Jessica Chastain, Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Judd Appatow, the Coen brothers, Emilia Clarke, Drew Barrymore, Tessa Thompson, Frances McDormand, Sienna Miller, Cate Blanchett, Michael Keaton, Robin Wright, Eddi Redmayne, Ron Howard, Margaret Qualley, Harvey Keitel, Tracee Ellis Ross, Pedro Almodovar and Willem Dafoe. The party builds on Coco Chanel’s penchant for gathering creatives at her apartment, and her long history of cinematic partnerships that includes dressing Hollywood actresses at the request of Samuel Goldwyn plus collaborating with French directors Jean Renoir and Marcel Carné and Nouvelle Vague actresses Jeanne Moreau and Romy Schneider. Chanel’s current creative director, Virginie Viard, was herself a costume designer early in her career. The house also offers support for independent film production—including cameras and access to streaming platforms like Le Cinéma Club. Chanel additionally funds film preservation and restoration projects alongside festivals, including Tribeca’s Through Her Lens program, and MOMA’s slate of film exhibitions.


Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Poppy Delevingne and Kate Bosworth in Chanel at the 2013 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner; Tessa Thompson, Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus and Suzie Riemer in Chanel at the 2019 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner. 


Accompanying the martinis for this year’s guests will be a film projector and 50 films curated by the fashion house and Finch, which include Joseph Mankiewicz’s 1950 backstage drama, All About Eve plus Jane Campion’s The Piano, Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, Coppola’s Lost in Translation, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, and Sidney Lumet’s Network staring Finch’s father. The finishing touch in Chanel’s celebratory delivery box is a dessert derived from one of the Polo Lounge’s signatures comprising vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice creams ready for pairing with sprinkles, cotton candy, chocolate sauce and even cherries on top. Aside from a golden statue at Sunday’s ceremony—the sundae is a fitting topper to Finch and Chanel’s Saturday celebration.


Feature Image: Cate Blanchett and Jack White at the 2011 Chanel and Charles Finch Pre-Oscar dinner at Madeo, West Hollywood


April 24, 2021

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