Well, it was better than last year, anyway. At least I didn’t want to punch the host. I did kind of want to ask Ellen DeGeneres if she rehearsed or what, because there was a lot of awkward in her bits, but she landed more jokes than not and the selfie heard round the world was cute or whatever, so okay. It was a mostly harmless Oscar telecast where, despite cutthroat competition in most categories, there really weren’t any surprises. I did pretty alright with my predictions, going 20/24. My major whiffs were calling Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress and American Hustle for Best Original Screenplay. In both those cases, though, my “should wins” took it (played out the same in editing, too, as “should win” Gravity won over Captain Phillips). So I’m kind of 23/24. I should really trust my instincts more, is the lesson there.
And now let’s talk about the fashion, which was mostly boring. The men shook it up a bit with several choosing dinner jackets, and Pharrell showed up in shorts, which was fun. And his wife wore a dinner jacket! A lady tux with a dinner jacket—that’s the white whale of fashion, I think. But the ladies were mostly boring and safe, too afraid of not winning Minivan Approval to take real risks. Even fashion stalwarts like Cate Blanchett came off disappointing in their perfectly lovely and perfectly boring dresses. It all just felt a little staid and bland, especially since there was a distinct lack of color on the carpet. Which is why Lupita Nyong’o stood out so much.
It popped from the moment she stepped out of the car. A flash of pale blue and we were all riveted because there was simply nothing else that stood out amongst all the cream and black and nude and white. It was Lupita Nyong’o in Prada, a shade called duck egg blue, which I learned is a real color, different from robin’s egg blue. Some people thought this was a letdown after her caped Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes, but this gown is perfect and not one detail could be changed. The color, the cut, the fit, the makeup, the headband—all of it is working. If the Ralph Lauren was Lupita’s fashion coming out, then this is her confirmation. She is now and henceforth shall ever be LUPITA, a creature of enviable beauty and grace and fashion.
On E!’s red carpet coverage, Kelly Osbourne tried to justify Cate Blanchett’s dress by saying how beautiful it looked in person, and how the detail was being lost on camera. Here’s the thing—there’s always some dress at these events that people say looks better in person, but that DOESN’T MATTER. The vast majority of people are watching the Oscars on TV, not live in the theater. How the dress reads on camera is the second most important part of the equation, after “does it fit”. Anne Hathaway in Gucci proves my point. The dress is relatively simple—a black column with metallic detailing on the bust. The fit is good, the styling is acceptable. It was nice on the red carpet, but didn’t particularly stand out. But then Hathaway walked out on the Oscar stage, and the dress shattered light. Sure, insert seizure joke here. But that simple black column made her look nine feet tall and the metallic bust made for the only gasp-out-loud fashion moment of the night.
And then there’s the dress we’re fighting over—Sally Hawkins in Valentino. It was one of the only real risks of the night, a heavily embellished, long-sleeved lace dress that not every actress could wear. I love it on Hawkins, who doesn’t really seem to care if we like it or not, which is the perfect attitude for so much dress.
I mean, Julia Roberts has never been a fashion maven. She hasn’t even tried to be. But this black lace Givenchy dress is awful. It’s dowdy, is dust ruffle-y, it’s boring. Can we all agree to be done with peplums? They don’t flatter anyone.
At first glance, I liked Julie Delpy in Jenny Packham. From the corner of my eye, all I saw was beachy blonde hair, bold red lips and silver sparkle. It seemed promising. But then I got a better look at the dress and realized that Delpy is, in fact, covered in spider webs. If it didn’t have the shoulder wings it might have been a really great dress, but the extra arm flaps make this another dowdy look. They’re like peplums for her arms. Just terrible.
I feel bad for picking on pregnant Kerry Washington in Jason Wu, but this isn’t a dress, it’s a bed sheet. A cheap, sateen bed sheet. Yes, the hair and makeup are perfect and Washington is just so stunningly beautiful and pregnancy is only making her moreso, but that dress is shit. And before you play the “but dressing formally while pregnant is HARD”, both Olivia Wilde and Elsa Pataky—who is enormously pregnant—managed to do just fine. It’s just a miss for Kerry Washington.
Almost But Not Quite
Jennifer Lawrence in Dior is once again on my “almost” list. I don’t think the JLaw/Dior collaboration has been as bad as many others—the ads have been gorgeous, after all—but Dior doesn’t seem to get her red carpet style at all. Last year they gave her too much dress, so this year they went with a simpler silhouette in the form of this red strapless sheath with little half-peplum hip flaps (not quite as terrible as full-peplum? Discuss). It’s a pretty good dress that is much better suited to gawky JLaw than a princess gown, but there’s one problem: It’s way too reminiscent of her first Oscars dress, the red Calvin Klein tank dress, which remains her best red carpet look. It’s too soon to be invoking that look, but this dress also can’t top it, so we’re left somewhere in the middle, thinking, “She sure does look good in red. In fact…”
Idina Menzel (aka Adele Dazim) in Vera Wang gets points for wearing an actual color. The dress is borderline bridesmaid (the danger of Vera Wang), but it’s saved by that awesome necklace. I just wish it fit better. It’s too tight through the bust, which made for some unflattering moments for what is otherwise a lovely look.
Bette Midler in Reem Acra is another look ruined by fit. This is a GREAT dress, and the red is FABULOUS on Midler, but IT IS THE WRONG SIZE. There seems to be a school of thought that if you’re not a sample size but have to wear couture, then it should be fit as tightly as possible to make you look thin or something, but that doesn’t actually work. If only this was one size bigger and actually fit Midler, it would have been a top look of the night.
Angelina Jolie in Elie Saab is okay. It’s not a great dress, but I guess points for not wearing yet another black sack dress. But this IS the best Brange to be seen on the red carpet. No one else Branges as well as Brange. Only Brange can give us such vintage, refined Brange. It’s really just a classic example of Brange. And every red carpet is better with a little Brange.
Amy Adams wore a feather duster that attempted to suck her into another dimension last year. This year, she wore a clean, simple navy Gucci gown and was much better off. I’m a little ambivalent about the boob flaps, but they weren’t sticky-up or pokey-out and didn’t diminish her proportions in any way, so I guess they’re okay. Mostly I’m just glad this dress doesn’t appear to be eating her alive.
Jennifer Garner actually repeats “most improved” this year with this silver Oscar de la Renta gown. Last year she got points for wearing color and a good piece of jewelry, this year she gets points for wearing a good dress. This is another one that looked GREAT on camera, and I like Garner’s styling, too. It’s not earth-shattering but it’s a little more glamorous than we usually get from her, which suits the dress. Not pictured: Her heinous footwear.
I actually sighed out loud, disappointed, when I saw Cate Blanchett in her traditional Armani Prive. They’ve done SO much better in the past. Like this. Or this. But then this year, this. It’s safe. It’s boring. It’s nude and embellished which was already terribly overplayed by the time Blanchett showed up and I didn’t have time for it. The Minivan Moms love it, I’m sure. Because there is nothing challenging or unique about this dress. Anyone can wear it. And The Incomparable Cate shouldn’t be wearing couture that any country club wife could pull off. She should be wearing clothes from outer space that only an alien queen could wear. You know, something like this.
I don’t even have time for Emma Watson in Vera Wang. This would be fine for a movie premiere where you have to wear a gown but don’t want to wear a GOWN, but it’s just a non-starter at the Oscars. And I definitely can’t be bothered with that Trumpian comb-over happening on top of her head.
I Don’t Understand Your Dress
I feel like there’s a mathematical equation that I’m missing. I should like Charlize Theron in this black fishtail Dior, but I’m not carrying the one somewhere and so it isn’t computing. I don’t not like it, I just don’t quite get it.
Ditto for Anna Kendrick in J. Mendel. I like it from the back a lot but then she turns around and reveals an embellished stomach cut out and suddenly I feel like I missed a step and ended up with the wrong answer.
Pharrell always brings it. Michael B. Jordan always brings it. But they were extra at the Oscars. SO handsome and SO stylish and I love Pharrell’s tuxedo shorts and OH MY GOD, MBJ’s SHOES, and Pharrell’s wife wore a lady tux with a dinner jacket and together they brought a lot of joy to my night last night.
Jeremy Renner bounces back after falling back into some Suit Problems recently, but he pulled it out for the Oscars. A little part of me did an eye-twitch at a misuse of a white bowtie (“white tie” is an actual thing, after all, and this is not it), but the suit is 1) Not shiny, 2) Not solid black, and 3) Fits really well. So we’ll overlook the white bowtie. Also his hair is straight up Clint Barton styles, which gets me stoked for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which starts principal photography any day now.
Not pictured: Beardy Chris Evans, because he skipped the red carpet. I get that it’s not your bag, but could you at least drop by the photo wall so we have some proper pictures of you to use when we want to talk about how great you looked and how amazing it is that now you’re suddenly the Academy’s go-to guy when they need a last-minute presenter? (Reportedly Andrew Garfield bailed for unknown reasons in the eleventh hour.) Because four years ago you couldn’t buy a vowel in Hollywood and now you’re That Guy that can be counted on to show up, look good, and get the job done. Dude! That’s AWESOME! So hit up the photo wall for a couple minutes, yeah?