Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Wilde night for pre-Oscar Winslet

Kate Winslet and Hylda Queally
Kate Winslet celebrates agent Hylda Queally's award in Los Angeles

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News in Los Angeles

In the run-up to this year's Oscars, few film awards ceremonies have been complete without a podium appearance from Kate Winslet.

On Thursday, however, the 33-year-old star of The Reader and Revolutionary Road found herself in the unusual position of giving rather than receiving.

At a Los Angeles event celebrating Irish cinema talent, the actress took to the stage to pay a lengthy tribute to her long-time agent Hylda Queally.

Frieda Pinto and Kate Winslet
I'm permanently anxious - very nervous and very excited
Kate Winslet
"I've got a really big speech and it's not about me!" she joked at the 4th annual Oscar Wilde: Honouring the Irish in Film awards.

"I'm really excited," the British actress told the BBC News website as she arrived on the event's green carpet.

"It's just lovely to be able to make a speech about someone who has been such a very important part of my life for 16 years."

With the Academy Awards just two days away, though, it is hardly surprising she felt some trepidation at the prospect of winning the Irish playwright's golden namesake.

"I'm permanently anxious, yes," she nodded. "Permanently anxious, very nervous and very excited.

"There's no sort of magic formula," she continued. "I wish I could tell you I've got it down now - that I have a system that involves baths and lavender and whatever.

"But I have no plan, I have no formula. You just go with the flow."

The party celebrates the close links between the US and Ireland

The actress did admit, however, that the outfit she will wear on Oscar night is "pretty much" ready.

"We'll see," she said as she made her way inside the historic Ebell Club on Wilshire Boulevard. "I'm not going to turn up in nothing."

Bestowed each year by the US-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit organisation devoted to strengthening the ties between the two nations, this relatively recent addition to the awards season boasted an eclectic guest list.

Producer Harvey Weinstein, French star Marion Cotillard, Damages' Rose Byrne and Dana Delaney from Desperate Housewives were among those there.

Slumdog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto turned up late, having spent the early part of the evening recording an appearance on Jay Leno's Tonight show.

Despite being honoured alongside Hylda Queally, however, neither Brendan Gleeson nor Jonathan Rhys Meyers turned up at all.

Frieda Pinto and Kate Winslet
Slumdog Millionaire's Frieda Pinto joined the party
Thanks to their roles in the comedy In Bruges and TV's The Tudors respectively, both actors have become hot properties on this side of the Atlantic.

Their absence, however, was not unduly missed at an occasion memorable for its live music, lively atmosphere and extremely strong martinis.

"I always like to celebrate anything Irish," Dana Delaney told the BBC News website. "We don't do enough of that in this country."

As for Winslet, she will no doubt be hoping that she has the luck of the Irish when the Oscars are handed out on Sunday.

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