“I saw Cate Blanchett on the red carpet and got a little star struck!” Lake Bell told InStyle as she entered L.A.’s Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom Wednesday evening for Women in Film’s 2016 Crystal + Lucy Awards, a Max Mara- and BMW-hosted showdown that this year packed a heavy A-list punch.
For Bell, who later texted in her donation to WIF, which raises funds for educational programs designed to uplift women in the entertainment industry, the evening was nothing short of motivating “It’s not a party night. It’s a thought-provoking night. I always leave very inspired and excited for now my little daughter to take on the world,” she told us.
So who were the women provoking change? The annual benefit gala honored Taraji P. Henson (The Lucy Award for Excellence in Television recipient), Natalie Dormer (The Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award recipient), and Homeland director Lesli Linda Glatter (The BMW Dorothy Arzner Directors Award recipient) for simply being exemplary and breaking new ground in their chosen field.
Blanchett, Claire Danes, and Kate Beckinsale all presented the awards to women that are very close to their hearts. Beckinsale got caught up in the moment before taking the stage to announce the eight honorees for The Crystal Award for Excellence in Film. “I get so excited when there’s a group of unbelievably talented, large group of unbelievable, talented women in a room supporting each other,” she told InStyle. “So when you get the chance to have them all in the room and actually feel the support they have for each other, it’s very empowering and makes you very hopeful that change can happen.”
After descending through the long corridor post-red carpet, guests were escorted to their tables, each adorned with luxurious white hydrangeas and covered in rustic gold candles. The fare called for a spring mixed salad with walnuts, grilled sesame soy chicken breast, and a smoked portobello "steak" pizza for vegetarians. “Nicola and I need wine now!” award recipient Natalie Dormer quipped backstage, referring to Nicola Maramotti, Max Mara's brand ambassador.
While Dormer and Henson each delivered tear-jerking speeches, red carpet pro Cate Blanchett jokingly urged her close friend and honoree Hylda Queally, The Sue Mengers Award recipient, to strike an over-the-shoulder pose and push her derriere out, which prompted some big laughs. “Hylda is not only the greatest agent in the business, she has the best legs in the business!” Blanchett told InStyle.
At her dinner table, the blonde star discreetly reapplied her lipstick and snuck out a mint Lifesaver from her clutch in preparation for her big, rousing speech. “I count myself blessed to be represented by you,” Blanchett told Queally as she begun.
After congratulating her longtime friend, Blanchett slipped into a pair of comfy black pants with a blazer suitable for her red-eye flight to the U.K. Just before the clock hit 10 o’clock, Henson also made an outfit change and opted for a more comfortable alternative to her heels. “I got these flats from these amazing women who made them in South Africa, but I don’t want to leave and forget my Jimmy Choos!”
Scroll through to see each of the stars’ killer looks, plus their moving words.
1. KATE BECKINSALE, IN VATANIKA
"I’m so honored to be here tonight. The Crystal Award recognizes women whose dedication, drive and excellence has helped pave the way for females in the entertainment industry and beyond. This year, there were so many great candidates to choose from that it was impossible to pick just one or two, or even three. Instead, we narrowed it down to eight outstanding female producers," Beckinsale told the crowd. The 2016 recipients are Denise Di Novi, Lucy Fisher, Lianne Halfon, Lynda Obst, Jane Rosenthal, Lauren Shuler Donner, Paula Wagner, and Paula Weinstein.
2. TARAJI P. HENSON, IN MARC JACOBS
“The fact that I’m getting an award named after one of the women that I totally look up to and studied my entire life, her entire career, Lucille Ball. She was doing things that women were told we couldn’t do at a time where we didn’t really see a lot of women doing it. She stole my heart. I have her box set. I still watch all the reruns. I learned a lot of funny from her,” Henson told InStyle.
3. NATALIE DORMER
“We’re always striving for the future, and we don’t often stop and think about what we’ve achieved in the past. So to be given such a beautiful introduction and to have a reflective moment was very moving for me,” Dormer told guests after Nicola Maramotti presented her with the Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award.
4. CATE BLANCHETT, IN GIVENCHY, AND HYLDA QUEALLY
“I count myself blessed to be represented by you. I would be an unformed piece of amoebic jello without you. You are an uber agent without compare," she said on stage. "But as important as, and as central as that relationship is to my life, you are my dear, dear friend. So congratulations tonight on this honor, my darling pal. It couldn’t be more deserved. You are really the quintessential woman's woman in film."
5. CLAIRE DANES, IN MAX MARA
Danes took the stage to present Homeland director Lesli Linka Glatter with The BMW Dorothy Arzner Directors Award, joking about how the honoree lent her lipstick for the night, and moving onto describe her positive character on set. “She greets every crewmember by name and she constantly encourages a tight sense of community and connectivity,” Danes told guests. “This beautiful, boundless energy, this unwavering commitment informs her identity as a director.”
6. LAKE BELL, IN VIONNET
“I am an active board member of Women in Film, so I guess that plays into my fierce support of the organization. But also, in general, I am a woman in film, so I do feel that it’s in my best interest to support an organization that is powerful and empowering at the same time,” Bell told InStyle of the cause. “I feel really lucky that the community that I look at in a more contemporary sense in this industry are people that I call my friends.”