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“Jared Leto! Just a smile!” begged a reporter, iPhone in hand, on the Critics’ Choice Awards carpet on Thursday night. The “Dallas Buyers Club” star obliged — hamming it up with a toothy grin and thumbs-up — seconds before he ran inside for the show’s live broadcast held at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.

“August: Osage County” costars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep arrived hand in hand, both wearing dark sunglasses, while Matthew McConaughey walked around with wife Camila Alves on his arm and Louboutins on his feet. Nearby, notorious heel-hater Emma Thompson could be audibly heard saying “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as she tiptoed inside — though she didn’t kick her heels off at the end of the carpet this time.

Oprah Winfrey and Sandra Bullock never even made it to the end of the carpet. The duo suddenly found themselves surrounded by a swarm of photographers, videographers and reporters who’d hopped the velvet rope and stormed the carpet for a glimpse of the nominees. The duo made a fast exit through a side entrance.

Backstage, Lupita Nyong’o discussed her sexy white cutout Calvin Klein Collection frock. “It reminds me of the sea….And the sea makes me calm and I was hoping it would help with that,” the “12 Years a Slave” star said after receiving the award for Best Supporting Actress. Though she admitted she wasn’t having much luck with those nerves. “I’m obviously not handling them very well. I tend to break down and cry,” she said of tearing up onstage.

“The Book Thief” star Sophie Nélisse took the surreal evening in stride. “I feel a little bit like a princess because I just sat there while people showed me dresses and did my hair and my makeup,” said the 13-year-old Best Young Actor/Actress nominee, clad in J.Mendel. “I’ve never been really into fashion, but [my stylist] keeps showing me things and now I really, really love Tory Burch. They gave me a lot of shoes, so I have a lot of Tory Burch’s shoes. I wear them to school and feel sophisticated…though my friends don’t really know who Tory Burch is.”

Most of the night’s attendees already had the Oscars on their minds — including Cate Blanchett, who teased, “I’m thinking of cyclingwear for the Oscars.” She paused, then recanted. “I’ll leave that to the men. I mean, Jared Leto has great legs. Maybe he should do the cyclingwear.”

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