That show felt really, really long, right? In actual running time it was average (around three and a half hours) but it felt like it took all year to watch. I’m putting it down to the horrible direction. That was a really, truly, terribly directed telecast. No sense of rhythm or pace and not nearly enough cutaways to the audience to make it worth our time. We watch for the cutaways as much for anything else. We want to see George Clooney’s face when someone makes a joke about his younger girlfriends. We want to see Joaquin Phoenix bitchfacing the host to death when he hopes Phoenix is “on his meds”. I, personally, wanted to see some cutaways to Academy bigwigs when Robert Downey, Jr., plainly annoyed, snapped, “Biggest movie of the year, but only got one Oscar nomination”.
I wonder if the average viewer at home gets how major that moment was. RDJ is their darling. He’s the one they saved, the one they managed to hang onto, the talent they didn’t let slide into oblivion. And he’s repaid them by becoming one of the most bankable stars in the world, a consistent and reliable worker bee for the studios, one of the last, true Movie Stars. And there he stands, more than a little bitter that his movie didn’t get taken seriously, going off script to throw the box office and popularity of his franchise(s) in their faces. The last time that particular pie got slung at the Academy, they changed the Best Picture rules. I wondered, as RDJ could barely stay on-script through his irritation, if there will be any repercussions. If anyone can move a boulder in Hollywood, it’s RDJ.
But we’re really here to discuss the clothes, because despite a rare tie (in the Best Sound Editing category, which meant Regular Joe at home was getting a refill and missed it), some top-notch musical performances, and Daniel Day-Lewis making jokes (!!!), what we’ll actually remember from the 2013 Oscars are the dresses.
I was going to complain about the lack of color on the red carpet—seriously, did everyone develop an allergy to ROY G. BIV?—but my top three looks of the night were achromatic gowns. My absolute favorite was Charlize Theron in Dior Haute Couture, proving why I will always love white on the red carpet. No matter how many times Jennifer Love Hewitt shows up looking like a desperate bride, white on the red carpet will always have the potential for sartorial greatness because of people like Charlize Theron. Look at this gown. It is flawless. SHE is flawless. Except for maybe Cate Blanchett—and even then, it would work on Cate for the same reasons it works on Charlize—no one else could wear this gown.
But I dug Naomi Watts’silver Armani Prive, too. It reminded me a little of Cate Blanchett’s own silver Armani gown (from 2007), but it doesn’t read as a knock-off. Armani does these deceptively simple metallic gowns better than anyone, but it takes someone with a lot of style to pull it off. Not only do you have to have the body for it, but you have to have the poise to not fuss with the asymmetrical bust and the confidence to wear something a lot of people will compare to alien space-armor. And finally there is Zoe Saldana in Alexis Mabille, which caused me to pause my TV and back up the red carpet so I could get a better look. I didn’t like her purple poodle dress from a few years ago but I LOVE this one. It reads as gray in photos but people at the event said it was lilac/lavender, but either way, it is gorgeous. Somehow it pulls together fussy elements—the layered fishtail hem, the applique bust, the belt—without being a fussy dress.
I feel bad for picking on Helen Hunt’s H&M gown, because it’s the “affordable” option and also is part of a green initiative to sell eco-friendly clothes at H&M, but this is inexcusable presentation of a boring dress. It’s so wrinkled! And there’s no nice way to say it: it straight-up looks like a bridesmaid’s dress, right down to the jeweled clip on the back, the result of every bridezilla that has ever stormed into a David’s Bridal and demanded to “bling up” her wedding party. I’m down with mass-market brands like H&M and Topshop presenting gowns on major red carpets, but please, can we get better design options?
Reese Witherspoon in Louis Vuitton was one of my worst looks of the night for two reasons. 1) The black bow/band detail on the bust hits her at an awkward place, making her bust look saggy, and 2) she is CRAMMED into that dress. It needs to be let out at least two inches, if not go up an entire size. The black panels on the sides would have been flattering if Witherspoon didn’t look ready to pop through the seams at any moment. And this is not a criticism of Witherspoon—she is NOT fat. This dress is just too small and someone really should have pointed that out in the planning stages. And was there anyone more disappointing than Anne Hathaway in Prada? We were all expecting fireworks because Hathaway is capable of delivering fireworks, but instead we got this blah pale pink column dress that was poorly fit and had cheap-looking darts on the bust that made “Anne Hathaway’s nipples” a thing. The front is boring and nippley and the back is heinous. She also committed the style foul of wearing a statement necklace with a high-necked gown for an extra points deduction.
Almost But Not Quite
I really loved Nicole Kidman’s L’Wren Scott gown on camera, but it lost something in the still photos, so I downgraded her from “best dressed” to “almost”. I also deducted points for the hair being a little too undone. I don’t mind loose hairstyles but they do need to look combed and finished and Nicole was looking a little frizzy and fried (probably from over-processing—her hair is like burnt blonde at this point). I downgraded Jennifer Hudson in Roberto Cavalli for a similar reason. Though I like that she wore not only a color but a texture with the midnight blue “scales” dress, the gown she wore while performing was actually the better option.
Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Haute Couture almost went on my “most improved” list because she has been more miss than hit through award season, but I liked the look enough in and of itself to give her the honorable mention. Her hair and makeup are perfect and the jewelry is great (though I did wonder how much fuss the backwards necklace was—it has the potential to be uncomfortable). The gown is beautifully fit and as a piece of couture I like it well enough, but JLaw was struggling with it long before she tripped on the Oscar stairs. She was fussing with it all over the red carpet and at one point I caught her pushing it back and looking annoyed with it. She looks beautiful and she’s proving to be a good match for Dior, but this was just too much dress. She really does look best in simple, straightforward styles.
Jessica Chastain in Armani Prive was the first big star to hit the red carpet and it was a real “wow” moment. Her style has been horrendous to date—she’s petite and curvy, which is always a challenge—but she knocked it out of the park with this metallic form-fitting gown. Her styling is beautiful and they finally nailed the swept-back hairstyle she’s been struggling with since the Golden Globes. The bronze hue of the dress and the pop of red lips saves it from being too one-color (Amanda Seyfreid should takes notes because she ended up looking like a big bowl of oatmeal in her tone-on-tone ensemble).
Stacey Keibler in Naeem Khan won the “girlfriend look of the night” award, and also made her impressive second appearance as George Clooney’s Oscar date. Can she go for three? I sort of think she might, since she stopped talking about babies and marriage a while back. Anyway, she’s a long, tall drink of water and is in crazy good shape and this gown shows off all her assets without looking tacky or cheap, two words most associated with George Clooney’s girlfriends. I don’t actually love Jennifer Garner’s wine-colored Gucci gown, but I’m giving her points for 1) wearing color and 2) that amazing necklace. Garner was well styled and aced the hairdo Nicole Kidman didn’t quite get right, and even if I didn’t love her look I didn’t hate it, either.
Best of the Ages
Gender politics aside, little girls in poofy dresses are always cute. Quvenzhane Wallis in custom Armani is adorable. She chose the dress because it was “sparkly” and “fluffy” and her smile lit up the red carpet. If you didn’t love “Little Q” at least a little you’re probably a monster. Even her trademark puppy purse was accessorized with a tiara. She’s a treat.
On the other end of the age scale, Jane Fonda in Versace and Sally Field in Valentino not only looked amazing, but they provided some much-needed color on the red carpet.
Amy Adams’ Oscar de la Renta gown looked like it was trying to suck her into another dimension via tulle portal. The dress is problematic on several levels, but the biggest issue is that the tiered tulle skirt is entirely too big. Did you see her in the audience, constantly pushing it out of the way of people heading up the Oscar stairs? This kind of gown really only works on a taller woman whose height can balance the weight of the skirt. Adams is being swallowed alive. Also it’s washing her out and her hair is on the “too messy” side of undone.
Handling a tulle skirt much better is Kristen Stewart in Reem Acra. The dress loses a little in still photos—not uncommon with gowns made of such heavy applique—but it was a beautiful mover on camera. Good makeup, great necklace, and okay hair—she, too, could have used a quick pass with the comb to finish the style—but after seeing the albatross of Adams’ gown, I said, “See, that’s how you wear tulle,” when Stewart arrived on the red carpet.
Let’s be honest. Melissa McCarthy is a beautiful, plus-sized woman who happens to have the worst style in the history of ever. McCarthy’s gray David Meister gown isn’t a mess because she’s large and thus has a hard time finding something that looks good, it’s a mess because it’s a shitty, unflattering design that looks poorly made. Her tragic Bride of Frankenstein hair isn’t helping either. This was one of the worst looks of the night and it still would have sucked even if McCarthy was a perfect size two. It’s just a bad dress with shit styling.
Proving that full-figured women can, in fact, make good showings on the red carpet are Adele in Jenny Packham and Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji. Both women look beautiful, elegant and stylish, their gowns are flattering and their styling suggests their stylists don’t actively loathe them. Melissa McCarthy could look better, she just doesn’t seem capable of it.
Ever since we picked on Jeremy Renner’s Shiny Suit Problem, he’s been hitting red carpets with distinctly less sheen in his suits. He knocked it out of the park at the Oscars, even going for the “shine in moderation” suggestion by pairing a shiny lapel with his suit. He looks great and I’m digging the longer hair. Also included are sexy beast Daniel Day-Lewis and everyone’s favorite sexy/scary professor, Christoph Waltz. I tweeted last night that Waltz is like that nerdy hot professor that terrified you, but you still wanted him to spank you with a ruler. Professor Waltz is here to teach you the Hegelian Model, ruler in hand.
Because who doesn’t love five ridiculously hot guys in tuxes standing next to one another?