A Night at the Oscars: Fashion Rundown

Okay kids, it’s time to pull out the grade books and issue a report card for red carpet fashion at this year’s Academy Awards.  The good news is that many stars who failed epically at the Golden Globes pulled out a dazzling recovery for Oscar night (read my GG fashion review here).  We saw the most gratifying corrections in form, color, and styling.  In fact, I was a little worried at first that I’d have nothing to blog about, since not even Dave Barry could craft an engrossing post out of, “They all looked so pretty!”  But the great news is that many stars continued to aim for “unexpected” and “sui generis” in ways that provide ample fodder for snarky comments.  In keeping with my profession, I’ve decided to issue letter grades for outfits.  So, without further ado, let’s begin with a controversy.

1. Cate Blanchett: D+ Go ahead, call me crazy, because every Oscar fashion review I’ve read has drooled over this outfit.  I’m beyond baffled. First of all, her gown looks like it contracted a terrible disease of lavender blisters (the closer you get the more revolting those little purple balls look).  Second, I’m wondering if she was in the middle of eating a mustard-slathered kielbasa when someone yelled “Cate! Picture time!” and she quickly wiped her mouth on both sides of her dress.  Yikes!

2. Jennifer Hudson: A- She did so many things right: striking belle-of-the-ball gown color, perfect number and size of accessories, gorgeous hair and makeup.  And what a stunning new figure!  If that doesn’t make you want to run to Weight Watchers and start counting points, I don’t know what will.  But honey, when even Tim Gunn has a hard time keeping his eyes on your face, you should know you’ve crossed the line.  Here’s my suggestion:

It’s two for the price of one: keep the girls covered and help kids make good choices all at the same time!  Whose career is on a roll NOW?  Huh, Charlie Sheen???  HUH?!!!

3. Melissa Leo: C. I get the lace trend: it’s flirty, feminine, and flattering in a way that a lot of modern looks are not.  But lace accents are one thing; looking like you got attacked by grandma’s crocheted tablecloth is something else entirely.  What saves this dress from total failure is 1) killer shoes and 2) the fact that it is cut so darn perfectly.  Coulda been worse.

4. Helen Mirren and Hailee Steinfeld: A.

These two lovely ladies receive the “age appropriateness” award for having the guts to wear gowns that suited their respective ages, rather than trying to either Botox or Wonderbra their way to age 25, which is what everybody else does.

Helen’s immaculate styling helped pull off a silver dress that could have been a little bit boring, because let’s face it, gray isn’t the most exciting color in the universe.  But pull it off she does, with dazzling diamonds and a slightly edgy pixie cut.  Hailee rocked a fresh, pretty, “sweet sixteen” look in Marchesa.  Nicely done, ladies!

5. Busy Phillips: D- I’d love to know the design process on this one:

“Well Bob, looks like we’ve got a black mermaid bridesmaid dress.  Don’t think we’ll be makin’ it onto the red carpet this year.”

“Wait, Bill!  Don’t give up!  Let’s fold up some of these black Hefty garbage bags and glue ’em onto the front of the dress!  Surely we can get Busy Phillips to wear it!”

6. Nicole Kidman: C + While it’s certainly not the stinker of the night, this dress looks like the poster child for the saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”  Big fight over color?  Go with no color at all.  Can’t decide on sheath dress, wrap dress, or slit dress?  Go with all three.  Got embroidery ideas ranging from flowers to vines to fireworks to amber waves of grain above the fruited plain?  Put ’em all on there!  The more the merrier!  Sadly, the dress just looks painfully overdesigned.  The fabric’s movement is lovely, the shoes are fab, the necklace makes me want to get up and cheer (since necklaces are apparently a dying breed for evening wear these days).  But the overall effect is sad.

7. Sharon Stone: F This outfit is almost too bad to be true.  The dress looks like dull black polyester and would be beyond the reach of notice except for the collection of small, furry animals clinging to her right shoulder (minus the one that got away and is currently hiding inside her hair–she’s looking for high and low for you, little rodent!).  All I can say is, hide your chinchillas, people.  The next awards season will be here before you know it.


8. Mr. and Mrs. Bale: F If they weren’t smiling serenely, this pair could scare small children.  I vote Ms. Bale’s dress “worst in show” and more stomach-turning than Cate’s purple blisters.  Those shiny splotches look like exposed muscle fibers–sorry to be gross.  She looks like she just walked off the set of the latest slasher film, still in her shredded costume.  And Mr. Bale, I’d like to introduce you to a helpful little term known as manscaping. Unless you’re planning on auditioning for a Geico commercial, the cave-man look needs to go.


9. Halle Berry: A- After a run of death and disease-ridden gowns, Ms. Berry’s pale pink cloud is a breath of fresh air.  While I might have wished for bolder accessories or a slightly warmer tone to better complement her skin, it’s hard to complain about something this pretty.



I have nothing to say about this dress.  I just got a kick out of the two people in the background.  On the right, there’s a big girl in black sausage casing who is WORKIN’ IT for the camera, complete with Spanx and a smile.  On the left, there’s a pouty teenager smuggling in a phone book under a ridiculously puffy coat.  Girls, you both make Marisa Tomei look super boring.



10.  Anne Hathaway: A+! I know some will disagree, but Anne’s still my favorite actress.  And I’m just so happy that she didn’t wear shoulder pads and gold sequins again!  I love the power red (okay, so her lips and nails were a little too matchy-matchy), I love the necklace, I love the bunched fabric, I love the understated rosettes.  Just perfect.  Of course, it’s hard to go wrong with Valentino, who happens to be my favorite designer.

And look!   My favorite movie star is about to plant a smooch on my favorite designer!  Sigh.  And they all lived happily ever after.  The end.


3 thoughts on “A Night at the Oscars: Fashion Rundown

  1. You could be a fashion columnist, Em…

    Everyone complained about Cate’s napkin shoulders… a disaster indeed, but what stood out to me was some designer saying “Hmm, this gown has no cleavage. How shall we highlight the girls? I know, let’s frame them a Victorian-cameo effect!”

    About your comments on Jennifer… all I can say is “HAhahaha…… ExACTly!”

    Mel’s dress reminded me of those wedding dresses you see on “Say Yes to the Dress” that the brides try on, and only the weird grandma likes… everyone else despises it.

    I think Helen Mirren had my favorite dress of the Oscars. Wouldn’t wear it myself, but boy, did she WORK it!! I was not as enthusiastic about Hailey… Everyone said it was “so age appropriate…” A pink tutu is more appropriate for a four-year-old (or maybe Natalie Portman) than a fourteen-year-old. I’d have given her a B.

    Spot on with Busy, Nicole, and Sharon. Maybe Busy just came from a funeral, didn’t have time to change, wanted to spice up the dress for the red carpet, and grabbed some decorations from the hearse. Nicole had one problem… she bought a poncho to keep warm and cover up the embroidery that didn’t match. Then the red carpet got too hot, and she put it around her waist. 😀 I’m not touching Sharon. Don’t kick a celebrity when she’s down. That dress mocks itself.

    You know when they were showing the nominees for Best Supporting Actor, Jen said, “They need to take some of the hair from Christian Bale’s face and put in on Geoffrey Rush’s head.” ‘Nuff said.

    Halle’s dress was nice, but it puts her in a place no celebrity wants to be… not awesome enough for the “standout” list, and pretty enough to not be on the “disaster” list.

    Eh… must disagree on Anne. The top part of the dress was not flattering and didn’t seem to fit well. As for the bottom part… ech. Bustles should be reserved for wedding gowns. Personally, on that, I’d give her a C. But Anne more than made up for it thorughout the night. This was my fav: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jYXqdsB97GA/TWtR4uBxsXI/AAAAAAABoDU/TpQVd1uQKyc/s640/83rd+Annual+Academy+Awards+held+at+the+Kodak+Theatre+on+February+27%252C+2011+in+Hollywood%252C10.jpg

  2. LOVED your comment, Ames! “Don’t kick a celebrity when she’s down. That dress mocks itself.” HILARIOUS!!! I think we should be fashion columnists together. Really? You liked the blue dress best for Anne? It was too space age for me. I think of her presentation gowns, the fringed one was my favorite. What was your favorite gown of the evening?

    • Oh wait–you already said. Helen Mirren. Yes, she was spot on. She didn’t look like she was trying to be anything or anyone other than her fabulous self.

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