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Hilary Swank toasted at pre-Oscar brunch

Bubbly flowed freely in Bel-Air Saturday morning as stars gathered at a Montblanc/UNICEF brunch honoring Hilary Swank.

It was a swanky Swank brunch.

The actress recently traveled to Ethiopia for the organizations and got to see how the $4 million Montblanc has raised in the last year for UNICEF’s work in building schools is being spent.

“The enthusiasm and the warmth of the children stayed with me,” she said, before accepting a bouquet of flowers in front of the gathered guests. “After my visit I am now convinced more than ever that education is everything.”

A video of her visit was shown, and Montblanc CEO Lutz Bethge spoke eloquently of how his company, known for watches and writing instruments, is still deeply rooted in the writing culture. “We believe in the power of the word — the written word — even in the age of digital communication.” He added, “The ability to read and write is the most important gift we can give children.”

Among the stars: Emmy Rossum, Rosario Dawson, Alyssa Milano, Piper Laurie, Lainie Kazan, Alfre Woodard and Stacey Keach.

Rachel Griffiths, who has been mostly at home with her family in Australia since her Brothers & Sisters show stint ended in 2011, was happy to be back in town for the Oscar frenzy.

“It’s a crazy time. I think having been away it doesn’t feel like it’s a chore anymore. I feel like this nice woman from the Midwest who was lucky enough to get a ticket. Woo hoo!”

Her favorite best picture film? ” I love Django. It’s not going to win. I’ve decided the Academy needs to give any person of color and/or women and/or people under 50 a double vote. I think the white 67-plus year-olds just have too much sway in the Academy. You know? I think they’ve got to do some affirmative action.” She added, “The idea that the best movie can’t be the most fun movie isn’t right.”

She also mentioned another favorite. “I just saw Argo on the plane, and I love that it was old-fashioned. It was still partly a caper movie. It was hugely enjoyable, all while not shying from difficult political realities. And that’s the younger filmmakers point of view on the world.”

She added, “I feel bad for Ben (Affleck), but I think he might get the Oscar for it because he didn’t get the Oscar nomination.”

Piper Laurie, 81, had a best pic pick, too, but she wouldn’t say what it is. “There are so many really good movies this year. I will not be unhappy whatever the result is.”

Martin Landau, 84, was in good spirits, and looking forward to Sunday’s Oscars. “They come up very quickly every year. Don’t ask me who I’m voting for!” He’s the voice of Mr. Rzykruski in Frankenweenie, one of Oscar-nominated animated films, and so he’s rooting for Tim Burton to win.

He added with a smile, “There are some very good films this year – maybe not as good as 1939, though.”

Landau will soon be seen in Lifetime’s Anna Nicole Smith movie, in which he plays the young starlet’s old tycoon husband, J. Howard Marshall. “It’s the first time in a long time I played older than myself!” he said, explaining, “He was 89 when he met her.”

While Landau has four movies lined up, Navid Negahban is unemployed after playing Abu Nazir in Showtime’s hit series, Homeland.

“It was a huge boost in my career. I’ve done over 120 projects, all of them were just jobs. This one was really busted it open,” he said. But as for what’s next? “I’m looking for a job.”