Best & Worst of the 2012 Academy Awards

I kept lamenting throughout the night that no one was cutting to Benedict Cumberbatch during the Oscars, but it turns out, he wasn’t there. He was at Elton John’s viewing party, which lets the telecast director off the hook—though not for also failing to keep a camera on Colin Firth as he walked out on stage—but then it leads me to wonder why a man who was in two nominated films, one of them a Best Picture candidate, and who is one of the hottest things happening in town right now, wasn’t there. Seating at the Kodak Theater is dicey—it’s not as big as a venue that hosts the Oscars should be and tickets are competitive even for nominated parties—but you would think someone could make room for Cumberbatch. Anywho.

The fashion was the most interesting aspect of the show, as Billy Crystal and his writing staff kept things pretty tame and the theme of the night was apparently “please go to the theater before they all close”. Between the unnecessarily nostalgic tone and the fact that the average viewer at home hadn’t seen two-thirds of the nominated movies, it made for a boring telecast. So let’s do what we do best and judge people we don’t know based solely on what they wore for one night out of their life.

Best Dressed

I actually squealed out loud when I saw The Office and Bridesmaids star Ellie Kemper in this Armani Prive gown. The color is a dead match for her pale complexion and dark auburn hair, the gown is gorgeous, the fit is stellar, the styling is superb. Here’s how good she looks—I don’t hate her barrel-rolled bangs! This was the most flawless look of the night for me. I would not change one single thing about how she looks right here.

A close second is Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton. I’m not the biggest Williams fan—I’m always glad for a chance to mock her and her second virginity. But I loved this red/orange LV dress. I don’t even mind the peplum! I think I could do without it—if I could change one thing about this look I would abandon the peplum. But it doesn’t ruin the look for me. Besides, Michelle is much too precious to show us her bum in a fitted gown. Oh see, there you go. I can’t help myself.

Worst Dressed

It pains me to put Sandra Bullock on this list, but her Marchesa gown is awful. It doesn’t fit, the stitching around her hips is unflattering, and WTF was happening with her face. Either her ponytail was too tight (the classic Croydon facelift) or she’s hit the Botox recently. Also, her nose. What is going on with her nose. We speculated during the show that she’d had a (bad) nose job. We should NEVER be speculating that Sandra Bullock has had a nose job.

Also hurting me last night was Viola Davis in emerald green Vera Wang. I love the color her on her. Davis has such gorgeous skin and this dress makes her glow, and I’m down with her au natural hair, but I loathe the bodice on this dress. Davis has the distressing tendency to show us more of her boobs than I particularly care to see. They’re nice and everything, but I don’t need to see them. I think I could handle the skirt of this dress if the bodice was simpler. As it is, there’s too much going on and the level of exposure is distasteful.

Almost But Not Quite

I’ve got four of these this year, so let’s run them down quickly. First up, Gwyneth Paltrow in white Tom Ford. I love the gown in and of itself, I ADORE the cuff, and I’m indifferent to the cape. I like the cape in theory, and ten years ago, when G was still owning her “I’m a bitch and I’m better than you” thing, I would’ve loved this without question. But the G who writes cookbooks and blathers on about healthy living and mommyhood? She can’t quite carry off the cape.

Next up, Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen. I’m totally into her styling and the black/gold color combination. I’m into the cut of the dress. I’m not crazy about how much like Las Vegas brothel curtains it looks, or about how it’s fitting Chastain’s chest. The first thing I noticed when I saw this dress was how it was pinching Chastain’s underarms and gaping across her boobs. The poor tailoring is holding it back.

Which brings us to Rooney Mara in Givenchy. I am also down with her styling—especially the makeup which combines her now-trademark red lips with a softer overall effect—and I like the dress, in and of itself. Hate the fit. The top is too loose and even on flat-chested Mara it looks saggy and no one with Mara’s physique should ever look saggy.

And finally, we have Bridesmaids and Damages star Rose Byrne in Vivienne Westwood. The fit here is excellent, the back is particularly interesting, but SHE IS SO THIN IT HURTS ME. Everyone was going on about how skinny Angelina looked, but for my money, I’m more concerned about the rapidly vanishing Rose Byrne. Eat something!

The Funny Ladies – Good

Here’s how you do a peplum: Tina Fey’s custom Carolina Herrera navy trumpet gown with peplum. The architectural quality of the dress, the proportions, the way the flare of the peplum echoes the flare of the skirt—it all works. And Fey looks gorgeous, even if I don’t quite understand what’s happening with her hair.

Also rocking a good look is The DescendantsJudy Greer in Monique Lhuillier. Greer looks sexy—the red hair is very flattering—and glamorous, and the black and silver gown is a perfect choice for someone in a nominated film, but who is not nominated herself. I love Greer. She can do no wrong.

The Funny Ladies – Bad

Ugh, Kristen Wiig, you’re killing me. In and of itself, I like Wiig’s J. Mendel gown. But Wiig has worn neutral/nude A LOT this award season, and her loose, beachy hairstyle feels out of date when the style has clearly moved toward more structured, finished looks. Wiig has been missing the mark consistently this year.

Maya Rudolph in Johanna Johnson is another miss. Rudolph, too, has been failing to impress this season, though this is one of the less offensive dresses she’s worn. However—BOOB SHELF. Anything that gives you a boob shelf is a bad idea.

Danger! Curves Ahead

Octavia Spencer’s sunburst Tadashi Shoji gown is how a curvy lady dresses. The pattern is flattering, the cut is excellent, the tailoring is superb. Spencer looks amazing. This is how you do if you’re working with more than a size two.

Melissa McCarthy in Marina Rinaldi, however, is how you don’t do. I like the color of the dress, and the shape, but I hate the neckline and the sleeves. Imagine this dress without the jeweled yoke collar and just a regular halter cut, and replace the sleeves with an embroidered bolero. See? Better, right? I will give McCarthy props for fabulous makeup and hair—she looked really pretty, but the dress did not do her justice.

Dressing Your Age – Grande Dames

Meryl Streep wore gold Lanvin and it was the exact same shade as the Oscar she won. This isn’t the greatest dress I’ve ever seen, but given that Streep is just as likely to show up in a men’s shirt and taffeta skirt as she is in a proper-styled gown, I’m down with her look. The color was particularly flattering, setting off her fantastic skin. I really need someone to ask her what she’s doing to keep her skin looking so amazing.

Another lady of a certain age who is likely to wear something totally bizarre is Glenn Close, who chose a deep teal Zac Posen number. I love it, but I bet a lot of you hate it. I love the detailing on the corset, and on the fishtail, and I LOVE that she wore a tuxedo jacket over it. I have an awesome tuxedo vest, but have been on the lookout for a good tuxedo jacket. I want Glenn Close’s.

Dressing Your Age – Little Women

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Shailene Woodley in a long-sleeved Valentino. Again, I love this but I bet a lot of you hate it. The thing is, Woodley is young and off-beat  and genuinely doesn’t care to a degree that allows her to get away with wearing some of the more oddball fashions. And the styling is beautiful.

Not scoring as well but still getting points for trying is Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli. The central problem with this dress is that it is far too close to Nicole Kidman’s famous 2007 Balenciaga dress. But the secondary issue is that neck/shoulder bows are pretty much never a good idea. Kidman barely managed it herself and she’s a bona fide fashion icon. Stone is trying, she’s willing to push it, which I appreciate, but she—or her stylist—should have known this dress was ill-advised.

Leggiest Leg Award

Stop the presses—Angelina Jolie wore a black Versace gown. Surprising, I know. (Can you sense the sarcasm?) But still, she looked gorgeous, and the structured dress was a change from her usual sack. The lighter hair color suits her well, too. She looked really happy and fresh, if a bit too thin, and I was really into the bustle on the dress. But of course, it was Jim Rash (Community’s Dean Pelton) who made the night.

Princess Prisoner Bride

SOMEONE HELP HER TO BE FREE.

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13 thoughts on “Best & Worst of the 2012 Academy Awards

  1. Heidi

    I love love LOVED Glenn Close’s dress. It’s so sexy and classy. The style and color were so different from everything else and that green was amazing on her! She should wear that color all the time. I think she was best dressed last night.

  2. m

    How can you call Melissa curvy? Lets not be all PC here. She’s not curvy she’s overweight/obese even. No wonder America is fat when you have such warped sense of what an actual size a person is considered curvy.

  3. Mia

    Leave the capes to Batman Gwyneth, but loved the dress. Sarah there is a photo floating around of Benedict and Colin together at the Vanity Fair party. When you pray, right?

  4. I absolutely LOVED Glenn Close’s dress, and the rest of her look, too. Was not a fan of Meryl’s dress, but hey, she’s otherwise awesome.

    What is up with Rose Byrne’s thinnification? I watched a little of the red carpet last night (I had some studying to do, so didn’t watch all of it) and Rose looked…sorta scary.

  5. I share your opinions and if I could steal Glenn Close’s jacket that thin would already be in my closet. It was lovely and she was easily one of my favorite of the night. Overall, it was kind of boring though. I loved the shape of Shailene Woodley’s dress, but it kind of felt like a lot of white. I don’t know but something about it was off for me and kept me from adoring it completely. Also, with you on the fact that I’m tired of Viola Davis’s boobs. If I want to seems someone’s breasts I have my own. Put those things away.

  6. anaishilator

    I was bored to tears til they got to Cirque do Soleil and the meat of the awards. The most lackluster Oscars in years but most of that is not the Academy’s fault…it was a weak roster with not much drama this year as you say, and I dare say most people hadnt seen half of the movies nominated. IMO, the Oscars always suffer in years without a huge blockbuster that most people have seen. There was no Avatar, Titanic, Gladiator, Braveheart or LOTR type film this year, and the show suffered because of it.

    But for the love of god. no more musical medleys, opening montauges, or billy crystal. Its old already. If we must have singing, bring back Hugh and Neil.

  7. layla

    Sarah … I have a completely unrelated question that’s been bugging me FOREVER that Im vaguely linking to this article pn the thin spider like thread called Jessica Chastain.

    Can you please explain to me how one goes from being in barely anything other than an old Veronica Mars episodes and essentially complete obscurity to being in EVERYTHING all in the one year (yup, referencing Chastain here). No slow build, no small but standout role to get noticed, no reoccuring role on a critics darling show… just BAM! in EVERYTHING.

    I just find her wiki/imdb page soooooo skewed. And it confuses me. No movies before 2008. 1 in 08 / 1 in 09 / 0 in 10. Then SEVEN in 2011.

    As for tv.. 1 episode in 2010 and before that it’s really only a bit part/random episode here and there between 2004-2007 and nothing of any major note/reoccuring character/big rated series etc

    So she’s obviously auditioning her a$$ off (good for her) and trying to grind out a living, but it just seems so strange that she was barely in anything before 2009 and then lucked out for SEVEN MAJOR PROJECTS in 2011… on the basis of what seems a very flimsy resume.

    Can you shed any light on how that all works? Please and thankyou! 🙂

    1. Well, some of it is out of her–or any actor’s–hands. Tree of Life, for example, took 5 years to get to the big screen. It was expected in 2010, which would have given her a film credit that year, but Malick dithered for that extra year. So sometimes, it’s just how scheduling as determined by directors and distributors works out. Taylor Kitsch this year has 3 movies–John Carter got hung up in Disney squabbling that slowed it down. And Nicholas Hoult just had 2 projects kicked to 2013. None of that is anything they, as actors, are doing. So that’s a big part of it.

      The less tangible element is buzz. ToL filmed in 2008 and there was some buzz generated for some actors which piques interest. This is what I was referring to the other day with Benedict Cumberbatch and those accidentally-on-purpose leaked Star Trek photos and footage. The movie won’t be out until 2013, and while that stuff is fun for fans to look at, for casting directors and producers, it’s an immediate glimpse of how he’s faring in Hollywood. It’s a “look at how great this is going, he can totally handle it” moment. So he gets industry buzz *now*, whereas the popular market won’t catch up for a year or so.

      That’s kind of what happened with Chastain. Word started floating years ago that she was great in this one movie that wasn’t out yet. And she had a film in ’08, Jolene, which no one in the popular market saw, that got her some good buzz going, too. That’s how The Fassbender had such a huge 2011, too. He got a lot of industry notice for 2008’s Hunger, then another bump from Inglorious Basterds, and then he went supernova in 2011. Chastain followed a very similar trajectory. Jolene was a so-so movie, but she was terrific and turned a lot of heads. Combined with the buzz from TOL and that uncontrollable element of scheduling, she ended up with a monster year.

      Hope that helps!

      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  8. amrios

    …That you opened your Oscar post mentioning Benedict Cumberbatch made my day; thank you, thank you, thank you…and awesome pictures you selected of him in your Lainey post…

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