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.
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.
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 Descendants’ Judy 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.