EXCLUSIVE: Inside the Star-Studded Oscar Nominees Luncheon and Class Photo

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ET was there as the Oscars countdown officially began at the annual nominees luncheon on Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

This year's nominees numbered 167, and they squeezed together for the traditional class photo, which was full of so many esteemed professionals that even Denzel Washington was impressed.

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"I was talking to one person and said, 'This is actually my eighth [Oscars luncheon],'" Washington told ET. "The guy next to me says, 'It's my 21st.'"

The guy next to Washington was sound mixer Andy Nelson, who has won twice before.

"I was just excited to be a part of it," said two-time nominee Pharrell Williams, who dressed casual in a sweatshirt and jeans. "It was pretty cool."

Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.

For the epic photo, a pregnant Natalie Portman sat in the front next to Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Matt Damon. Across from Damon was Justin Timberlake, while Ryan Gosling posed with his arms crossed in the back. And in front of Gosling stood Lion co-stars Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel, who smiled side-by-side next to Mel Gibson.

While first-time nominees like Andrew Garfield were taking everything in, other more seasoned vets like Washington were able to relax a bit more. In fact, the two-time Oscar winner and Fences star is so laid-back, he celebrated his recent SAG Award on the couch.

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"I went home and put my shorts on and watched Sports Center," he said. "That's what I did. When you're younger, you hit the streets. Man, I went home and got out of my monkey suit."

The 2017 Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on ABC.