Frak that was a long broadcast! It just kept going and going… I remember last year’s show being kinda snappy except for a couple draggy parts, but this year–yikes. It was like the whole thing was being filtered through molasses, it was so slooooooooow. Highlight: Neil Patrick Harris’s sparkly tuxedo and opening number. Lowlight: Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t the host. Why two opening bits? As much as I like NPH, as he wasn’t the host, was his opening song and dance necessary? It was an extra five minutes we didn’t need. Either hire NPH to host, or don’t have him do an opening before the actual hosts come out and do *another* opening. Highlight: Robert Downey, Jr., Tina Fey, and Ben Stiller proving that genuinely entertaining people can be entertaining. Lowlight: the modern dance presentation of the Best Original Score nominees. It just proved how much everyone hates modern dance. Highlight: Sandra Bullock and Christoph Waltz giving genuine, gracious speeches. Lowlight: that lady I’ve never heard of totally Kanye’d that guy I’ve never heard of when he won an Oscar for a short documentary I’ve never heard of.
Speaking of the shorts. This year there was an introduction to the short awards (live action short, animated short, documentary short) in which previous winners who went on to direct major motion pictures talked about their experiences getting started by making short films. It was neat, but here’s the problem. If you have to take 10 minutes to set up your category because no one is familiar with it, it’s time to admit defeat. Academy, no one cares about short films. We can have a discussion about their merit as a filmmaking tool and their place in modern American cinema, but on Oscar night, NO ONE CARES. Move those categories off the main broadcast and save us all some time.
And now on to what really matters: judging people I don’t know and will never meet based on the clothes they chose to wear one night out of their entire life.
It was an unusually boring night on the Oscars’ red carpet. Not a lot of risks were taken, but a few people gave a shot at being avant-garde. Most of them failed. More on that later. First up, it’s my best dressed. This was a no brainer to me. There were only two women who stepped onto the red carpet an elicited a gasp from me. Two women who, throughout the night, looked more and more beautiful, the more I saw of their gowns.
Rachel McAdams and Kristen Stewart
McAdams wore a gorgeous watercolor-print Elie Saab gown with pastel makeup and a bare collarbone (ladies, bare shoulders are sexy). McAdams is strikingly beautiful and everything about her Oscar look emphasized that face and those eyes and it was all working. It didn’t hurt that she was bitchfacing all over the red carpet and I seriously wanted to know what was so annoying to Ms. McAdams that she couldn’t keep a lid on her inner bitch.
As for Stewart, she stunned in a midnight blue Monique Lhuillier mermaid gown. A lot of people were surprised by KStew’s glamorous look, but I don’t know why. She brings serious steeze to red carpets and hits more than she misses. Don’t confuse how a girl dresses on her down time with how she’ll present on a red carpet. The color was both in keeping with Stewart’s sorta-goth style and her obnoxiously flawless porcelain complexion. She kept things simple and fresh with light makeup, a simple updo, and bare-minimum bling in the form of an H. Stern diamond bracelet. Stewart is only 19 and even all glammed up, she looked 19. Refreshing.
Risk and Reward
There wasn’t a lot of risk-taking happening this year at the Oscars, but a few people tried something fashion forward and managed to make a little statement with their gowns.
Anna Kendrick, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan and Amanda Seyfried
First up, Anna Kendrick in Elie Saab. Kendrick has been okay on red carpets throughout awards season, but she has had a tendency to wear dresses that overpower her. She is petite but she is curvy and nothing she’s worn to date had shown off her pretty figure. Then she turned up at the Oscars in this romantic blush chiffon gown that showed that va-va-voom can come in small packages. It was feminine and pretty and most of all, Kendrick wore this dress, not the other way around.
You can always count on Maggie G to wear something different on the red carpet. She’s quirky and offbeat and she’s not afraid to go against her own pretty. Her Dries van Noten gown is notable mostly for its bold blue print, but Maggie brought the perfect accessory—her nearly insufferable sense of herself. She is so up her own ass. Did you see her face when they played her clip montage from Crazy Heart? She was like, “Yes, that is me. I am good, and I am satisfied with my goodness.” So smug. Her husband, Peter Sarsgaard, he’s just as smug. I really don’t know how Maggie’s also-actor, and considerably more mellow, brother Jake puts up with the two of them. It’s like a cloud of self-satisfaction and “better than you” surrounds them at all times. Yet I love Maggie G. Why? Because she owns it. She IS that talented, she KNOWS she’s that talented, and she doesn’t care if you dislike her because she owns her talent. She’s real, even in the face of your disapproval and annoyance.
Could Carey Mulligan be any more adorable? I really don’t think so. She has such an impish little smile, like she’s trying to hold back a guffaw at all times. She’s been knocking it out of the park all awards season, but this black Prada with an asymmetrical hem takes the cake for the quirkiest dress on the red carpet. At first glance, it’s an elegant bustier gown, but on closer inspection, you can see that the bead work is actually made of little scissors, thimbles, and what appears to be razorblades. Bizarre. Only someone young and fun and willing to try like Mulligan could pull this off and she owns it. The chandelier earrings may be a wee bit much, but since there’s no hairdo competing with them, I’ll let it slide.
I am not a huge fan of Amanda Seyfried. She’s like oatmeal to me. It’s there, it’s wholesome, it won’t hurt you, but it’s not very tasty. That’s Seyfried. Bland, harmless, unchallenging. So I was glad to see her step out in such a dramatic gown. This metallic Armani Prive is futuristic (dare I say, Jetsons-like?) and really stood out among the darker blues and blacks that dominated the night. It’s an awfully big dress, and for someone with no discernable personality, Seyfried managed to wear it well. And she knew she was wearing it well, which added an almost-spark of interesting to her that night, which I’m sure we’ll never see again.
Looking Great at a Certain Age
Hats off to three ladies who demonstrate how to age gracefully.
I don’t usually like Marchesa gowns—they’re like the pageant dress of red carpet wear—but Sandra Bullock’s metallic champagne Marchesa was stunning. Sandra is tall. And she has a body. And this dress just emphasized her statuesque build. The hair and makeup were also good, but the dress was excellent. It was a winner’s dress.
I adore Tina Fey. The self-proclaimed “normal woman” in Hollywood, she constantly underrates her own beauty and appeal. Her one-shoulder Michael Kors gown was old-school glamorous and Fey worked the look without seeming to try. I wasn’t crazy about the bump-it hair, but the soft curls were a nice, feminine touch from a woman who often chooses to downplay her own femininity. And even as she projected an air of “little girl playing dress up with the cool crowd”, Robert Downey, Jr.’s obvious enthrallment with her is proof that Fey is, in fact, queen bee of the cool crowd.
It’s Meryl Streep. Need I say more? Okay, how about…Streep isn’t exactly known as a fashion icon, yet here she exudes classic beauty and timeless grace in a white gown (white being my favorite color on the red carpet) designed by Project Runway’s Chris March. It’s age appropriate, elegant, flattering, and Meryl has never looked better. PS: I want to be BFFs with Meryl and Stanley Tucci.
Please Try Again
So close, yet so far.
Elizabeth Banks, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez
Like Amanda Seyfried, Elizabeth Banks is another oatmeal person, except she has a genuinely pleasant and generally funny screen presence. When acting, I enjoy Banks just fine. When not acting, I could care less about Elizabeth Banks. I’m sure she’s nice and all, but she is BORING. Her red carpet looks are usually boring, too. She stepped out at the Oscars in a slightly more bold-for-her steel grey Versace number, but did anyone else feel like this is the most boring Versace they’ve ever seen? Banks just doesn’t have the personal edge for Versace. She’s bringing this dress down. Nice effort, Betty, but please try again.
Well at least I don’t feel like Mimi’s tits are going to reach out and suffocate me this time. I feel like it’s the lack of bronzer. At the Golden Globes, Mimi had her rack highlighted and contoured within an inch of its life. At the Oscars she toned that shit down. Unfortunately, she’s still crammed into a too-small gown (this one by Valentino) meant to showcase a body she doesn’t really have anymore. There is nothing wrong with Mariah Carey’s body—she’s voluptuous and healthy and it’s beautiful. But please start stuffing those cans into a dress that actually FITS.
Oh JLo, where did you go? Remember when Jennifer Lopez was synonymous with cutting edge fashion and daring dresses? Even if always a touch trashy, you could count on JLo to bring the edgy steeze to the red carpet. But now, now it is second-rate all the time. And at the Oscars, JLo was second-rate to Amanda Seyfried, literally. Like Seyfried, Jenny had on a metallic Armani Prive of mammoth proportions, but Seyfried clearly got the better dress and she owned the look harder and better and first-er than Lopez. Oatmeal > JLo
Just like…wow. I mean…WOW. Two of the WORST dresses I have EVER seen on a red carpet, anywhere.
Charlize Theron and Zoe Saldana
I can’t even talk about these gowns, they’re so bad. Charlize in Dior, Zoe in Givenchy. On the one hand, it’s cupcake breasts (or Cinnabon works, too), and on the other, many poodles tragically died to make Zoe’s dress possible. I think the Givenchy kills me the most, because Audrey Hepburn is my personal fashion icon and Audrey is synonymous with Givenchy and this purple monstrosity is Givenchy and Audrey would just die if she saw that mess and it’s tragic and I hate it and I hate that I hate a Givenchy creation and it’s so Cruella DeVille and I have to stop before I hurl.
The Cyrus Trash
Need I say more?