I'm happy to say the vast majority of women who stepped onto the red carpet for the 2016 Oscars looked great, with very narrow missteps and few looks I can truly call "the worst." But fear not, friends. There's always someone whose mirror and publicist told them lies.
I love that I can count on Cate Blanchett to take my breath away every. damn. time. Who else could wear this bedazzled, befrilled and befeathered seafoam Armani Prive and look like an ethereal sea nymph? The fit is flawless, her hair was perfect from every angle, the earrings were interesting, yet classic and her make-up was divine. For a woman who is already a red carpet all-star, this is one of her most memorable looks.
How many times has a starlet knocked it out of the park at every turn only to show up in a major disappointment at the Oscars? We sighed with relief and did a literal praise emoji when the girl of the hour(s) Brie Larson arrived, looking serene and lovely in her ruffled blue Gucci gown. It's not particularly daring, but it's interesting enough to be memorable, and although I can ostensibly see the belt might be a bit on the big side, I still appreciated her accessorizing game was on point. Her hair was also especially pretty, and she won't ever regret this outfit when she sees these pictures long into the future.
Saiorse Ronan just hit a slam dunk with her slinky disco Calvin Klein gown. The color is a dream for an Irish girl, her make-up was edgy and cool and her mismatched earrings were young and fun without trying too hard. It was a good reminder she's grown up to any of us who might still think of her as the little girl from Atonement. (By the way, she wore green to the 2008 Oscars, too, so maybe this was a pointed statement dress.)
I take special delight when actresses who aren't nominated or even appeared in any of the nominated films seize the moment to use the red carpet as a soapbox, forcing everyone to say, "Who is THAT girl?" This year, that girl was Priyanka Chopra, the absolutely gorgeous star of ABC's Quantico, who wore a finely detailed and elegant Naeem Khan gown, perfectly accented by her jewelry and shades-of-berries make-up. I predict this look will end up in many wedding Pinterest boards.
Charlize Theron is an MVP at dressing for the Oscars. Try as I might, I cannot recall a major misstep in all her years of attending, and she has a signature look (long, lean, architecturally interesting), but it's never boring. Her red Dior was just intriguing enough to set it apart, and timeless enough that it will never feel dated to this moment in time. And, can we get an amen for always bringing her A-game on accessories? That long necklace was the icing on the cake.
Julianne Moore has a taste for the kooky that sometimes goes a little far for me, but this Chanel Haute Couture was a big win for her. It has just enough interest to elevate basic black, and I liked the 60's-style diamond loop earrings. She looks simple and pretty.
Naomi Watts is one of those fashion daredevils who somehow always pulls it off, almost with a shrug, like, "Yeah, so?" She makes it seem like any of us could wear a bedazzled Armani Prive gown seemingly inspired by beta fish and knock it out of the park. She never, ever bores me and almost always sticks the landing, and for that, she deserves to join Cate and Charlize in the Oscar Dressing Hall of Fame.
Emily Blunt's sweet pink Prada has lovely details, like the Indian-inspired beading pattern, and looked like the most comfortable option for a slightly pregnant lady like herself. Soft pink is always a lovely choice for her. It's also a fun contrast to her badass character in Sicario. Next year, she'll be starring in The Girl on the Train, and I wouldn't be surprised if we'll see her on the red carpet as a nominee.
Alicia Vikander is quickly becoming one of the most unpredictable and adventurous actresses on the red carpet. I appreciate it, and yet I wanted something a little different from her last night. I was not sold on the half-up top-bun until the Twittersphere made the connection that she basically came dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and then suddenly I was on board for her sparkly and pillowy yellow Louis Vuitton gown.
Margot Robbie hugely disappointed me the year she was in The Wolf of Wall Street and showed up in a dreary black gown with mousy brown hair and dark lipstick. This Tom Ford seemed like an embodiment of her: sexy, glittery and gold. Her hair was maybe a touch too undone for our tastes, but otherwise, this was a solid turn.
My girl Tina has never. looked. better. Even my husband said, "A color!" and Ashleigh said, "She did her hair up!" This purple Versace was a huge score for her, and I appreciated that she stretched out of her comfort zone of black.
Olivia Munn chose wisely when she picked this clean marigold Stella McCartney gown that perfectly suited her complexion and was accented by a matching orange matte lip. It was exciting in its rightness for her role at this event and achieved everything I imagine she hoped to achieve: a memorable look without overdressing or underdressing.
You gotta give it up to Chrissy Teigen for choosing a runway Marchesa dress and having it adapted to suit her pregnant form. My only quibble is that a ruby lip would have been a nice touch.
As far as ghostly nightgowns by Givenchy go, this is one of the better ones I've seen. The fine detail work is incredible, and the fit is perfect. Rooney doesn't look bad here; she's just boring all of us to death. Even the New York Times Magazine tweeted that she was "At peak Rooney Mara." We've seen this look from her so many times that it's how I picture her when I close my eyes. On the one hand, I'm glad she knows her style so well, but on the other hand, her severe turns on the red carpet are bumming me out.
Still photography isn't doing the beadwork justice here. Jennifer Garner's black Atelier Versace gown was elegant, timeless and even a throwback to Old Hollywood. But it felt a little mature for her, and for all of us who are rooting for her to come out on top (she's the phoenix from the ashes in this scenario, BEN), it's a bit of a ho-hum choice. I think all of us want her to come out looking like a sexy mama.
There is nothing wrong with Jennifer Jason Leigh's rose Marchesa gown, although it might be a bit pale for her. It just didn't feel like her, or at least who I thought she was. I think of her as an edgy take-no-prisoners sort of lady, and it felt like a stylist shoehorned her into this pretty delicate flower gown and she just went with it.
I LOVE Isla Fisher's floral Marchesa gown, but I just couldn't decide if it was the right choice for the Oscars. It feels like a great choice for the SAG awards, where things are a little looser and fancy free. Maybe that's nitpicky on my part, though.
Reese Witherspoon, in recent years, has decided she only likes incredibly fitted, corseted simple mermaid-style gowns and I guess that's okay, but I'm not that into it. It's become too repetitive for my taste and her purple Oscar de la Renta only served to remind me of how much more I loved this all-time favorite look from her, the post-divorce tiered Nina Ricci.
Don't get me wrong; this elegant dove grey Chanel is a dream dress and Daisy Ridley looks lovely. It just feels a tad on the understated side for the Oscars, and I was really hoping she'd seize the moment to make a statement. It feels too safe to me.
It has long been my opinion that while Charlize Theron basks in the glow of her Dior partnership, the fine people at Dior totally give Jennifer Lawrence the sloppy seconds. I'm not sure if she just has questionable taste, or if they hate her, or what, but this is a far cry from what I would hope to see her wear. It's been done, better, by a million designers on a million actresses. I felt weirdly suspicious that she didn't walk the red carpet to do interviews, either, as though she knew it wasn't great and just opted to skip the whole thing.
Poor Kate Winslet. All I do is complain that she's become boring and predictable in her taste for simple, structured gowns and then she tries to switch it up on me and I'm still not happy. Her quicksilver black Ralph Lauren gown is interesting, but I just don't think it's doing her any favors. It also felt like too far of a step outside her comfort zone. I was just looking for a little beading, Kate, not a Project Runway challenge dress!
I'm super torn on Lady Gaga's Brandon Maxwell pantsuit-dress hybrid, partially because — gross, I hate pantsuit hybrids — and also, because its folds weirdly reminded me of orchids and vaginas. Maybe that was the intent? On the other hand, it feels classic and appropriate and just weird enough and like a true 1940s throwback.
Ashleigh said Patricia Arquette looked awful, and while I can't say I'm dying for her gift-wrapped navy gown, I have seen her wear much, much, much, much, much, much worse and I think it's a solid effort.
Olivia Wilde is an interesting case because I actually remember liking her Valentino on the runway, and I'm not sure, under normal circumstances, this would rank as worst. But the more I looked at it, the more I thought this was a true failure in accessorizing that managed to take the entire ensemble down. If her stylist had simply offered a long necklace similar to Charlize's, I think I'd be whistling a different tune, but NO, someone convinced her to wear a horrible choker that interrupted all the lines of her diaphanous gown. It also felt like a touch too much cleavage, especially when it was heaving while she was just trying to survive the awkwardness of Ali G.
I am so desperate for my girl Mindy to knock it out of the park on the red carpet and again and again I am disappointed. She looks so great in her day-to-day life (I know this because I follow her Instagram), but I feel like she just goes against her own best interests most of the time when she hits a red carpet. This Elizabeth Kennedy gown isn't really that bad, but from certain angles, seemed TOO fitted and isn't really interesting at all. I feel like Mindy should be in the Sofia Vergara Knows Fit club.
Heidi never met a frill she didn't love, but this Marchesa just has too much going on. Chop off a sleeve or a flower or something and we can talk.
I am mystified by Kerry Washington's fashion choices. I think she thinks she's this daredevil who can pull off anything, but she is seriously becoming so reliable in her bad choices. This Versace leather gown is just bad from top to bottom, from the too-high cut of the breastplate, to the frankly bizarre black lines on the hips. It reminds me of when people would wear their overalls undone and just have the straps hanging.
Amy, Amy, Amy. I don't even hate this Andrew GN Kimono-ish gown...I think it could be perfect for the Met ball, but it's just strange for the Oscars, like she's a botany wizard. She is also criminally and serially confused about finding her style.
Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg wore complementary tuxes. I can only imagine she stole hers from Diane Keaton, which I would heavily not recommend, and her purse on first glance appears to be a cheese grater. That's a long-winded way to say she's dressed like a waiter at a nice Italian restaurant.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has just completed what was probably the worst and most trying month of her life, and knowing she was going to be giving a historic speech with all eyes on her, she opted to wear a coral figure skating costume I can only imagine is usually worn by whoever plays Sebastian in the Disney On Ice shows. A daring choice, to be sure.
And that's a wrap! See you back here in a couple months for the Met Ball!