If everyone showed up in jeans and t-shirts I would still be ridiculously excited for the Academy Awards because that is how much I love movies and the fanfare and glitz surrounding them in February. But they don’t show up looking like slobs: celebrities go all out on Oscar night and this adds another layer of joy to what, for me, is already an evening nothing short of rhapsodic. When I was young and too little to care about the films, most of which I hadn’t seen (or wasn’t allowed to) the gowns still made the Academy Awards compelling. Now when I watch, while simultaneously tweeting my thumbs off, I’m still just as captivated by choices made in costume and can’t help but remember favorite dresses from years past (and the horrid ones of course). This year I set out to compile a Top 10 Best/Worst Dressed List from the annals of Oscar fashion. I soon realized that 83 years worth of Oscars was too big to digest, and therefore decided to focus this assessment on the period from 2000-2011. (I could definitely myself see doing an analysis of the 90s, during which I became an avid Oscars-watcher, but probably wouldn’t go back further (it would sound something like…Grace Kelly is gorgeous, Audrey Hepburn is gorgeous, Cher and Bob Mackie whatthefuckisgoingon, blah blah blah…) because it would be impossible to offer my own opinions from my own memories.) Oh! That’s another thing–these are my own opinions from my own memories. I’m not trying to be right (but I mostly am), I just offering up what I believe to be the most memorable (and successful or unsuccessful) gowns. I also acknowledge that I occasionally like dresses that most people HATE–for example, I totally love everything January Jones wears. Let’s just say I’m offering up some fun observations, k?
But seriously, January Jones, Versace, the Globes, 2011? Fucking amazing.
Note: I haven’t covered what the guys wear. I’m just not terribly interested. (Although I do expect them to show up looking dashing in their tuxes. And I appreciate the well-dressed men.)
And these aren’t in any particular order. I’ve already thought hard enough about this, I don’t care to make my head hurt.
1.) Anne Hathaway, Armani Privé, 2009
While not intentional, it has turned out that a lot of my picks are white/off-white/silver gowns. I have no idea why this happened, I didn’t even know I had a preference. But she just looks stunning. Also, though not an Oscars gown, it has to be said, Anne’s 2011 Armani Privé gown for the Golden Globes is another of my all-time favorites. My approval of a number of looks by Ms. Hathaway can probably be explained by both my love for her and my undying obsession with her stylist, Rachel Zoe.
2.) Kate Winslet, Ben de Lisi, 2002
Bill Blass said: “When in doubt, wear red.” Kate Winslet probably says: “When you want to show off your perfectly flawless ivory skin and delicious collarbone, wear red.” I also give points for overall styling, but in this case I had to choose a picture where her clutch is not fully visible. I thought it was uggo. But any-hoo, how can you not love Kate?!
3.) Michelle Williams, Vera Wang, 2006
This is truly one of my favorites. She was perfectly styled, love the red lips, love the jewelry. She had mega-cutie Heath Ledger on her arm (sad times). An all-around win. Yellow has had quite a few home runs on the red carpet. (See: Cate Blanchett, Valentino, 2005/Renee Zellweger, vintage Jean Desses, 2001/Rosamund Pike, Roland Mouret, 2008<—this landed on some Worst lists, I LOVED IT, LOVE HER.)
4.) Charlize Theron, Dior Couture, 2006
Many people hated this dress, but I say this is what it’s all about! She looks over-the-top-fabulous, and where else could you take yourself looking like this but to the Oscars?! (And hey, I didn’t pick her Dior disaster from 2010–I do have half a brain.) I think I nurse an unhealthy obsession with oversized bows.
5.) Penelope Cruz, Atelier Versace, 2007
I love this because it’s big and poofy and girly and fancy. It’s fan-say. I can remember really disliking Penelope Cruz for a while, but I can’t remember why. I totally love her now. Maybe it was when she was dating Tom Cruise? That would make you question a gal…
6.) Hilary Swank, Guy Laroche, 2005
Don’t really care for Hilary Swank. Hated Million Dollar Baby (Gasp!….Sorry, hated). I seriously doubt she had anything to do with picking this dress and give full credit to a very good stylist. Because she looked totally amazing. Focusing on this beautiful dress almost makes you forget about her grating-Jillian Michaels-man-voice.
7.) Helen Mirren, Christian LaCroix, 2007
Helen Mirren is a goddess. She totally knows what she’s doing when it comes to the red carpet and always looks appropriately fantastic. Mirren stands out often, but I think this dress was particularly flattering.
8.) Gwyneth Paltrow, Calvin Kelin, 2011
Ooooh, this is another one of my favorites! Though she’s had some notorious hits and misses, I tend to love what Gwynnie wears. I almost picked her dress from 2007 when she rocked the hell out of a sheer Zac Posen number. But I love her in Calvin Klein, and it’s long been a fruitful relationship. Additionally, I would totally wear this given the chance. They don’t even have to let me into the Oscars. I’d wear this to like, CVS.
9.) Kate Hudson, Atelier Versace, 2003
[Attention Charlize: This is the warmly tanned face you were going for back in 2004 when you turned yourself orange. I couldn’t put your gorgeous Tom Ford dress on my list because I cannot get over your too-orange face.] Kate nailed it. She’s got that perfect mix of Elegant and Hot going on–and I don’t even like her that much! But here, damn, good job girl.
10.) Angelina Jolie, Elie Saab, 2009
Angelina is Perfection. This is an Undeniable Truth, and people like to dog her because they know this Truth and it makes them uncomfortable. I’m looking at you, Team Aniston.
While I’m at it……….HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Are you still with me? See? That was fun! Now let’s talk some shit:
1.) Tyra Banks, Vera Wang, 2000
Did she think she was going to prom? It’s so bad, guys. So, so bad. This would only be mildly less horrendous if a young Latina wore it for her Quinceanera. But Tyra is kind of nuts anyway so maybe we all should have seen this coming.
2.) Hilary Swank, Dior, 2003
If I saw someone wearing this on the red carpet I’m pretty sure I would not be able to contain a snarky chortle. Yeesh.
3.) Kate Hudson, Chloe by Stella McCartney, 2001
It’s like she’s trying to look like a frumpy old lady. A frumpy old lady who has 11 cats and knits them kitty sweaters and smells like cough drops.
4.) Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexander McQueen, 2002
We all remember this unfortunate incident. When GP outfitted her saggy boobies in material that should have only ever been destined to become knee highs and then swathed the rest of herself in garbage bags. Notice how many of these women occupy both the best and worst lists? How the mighty have fallen. She also had TERRIBLE hair. It looked like the mess of french braids I’d sport each time I roped my babysitter into “doing my hair” for hours on end.
5.) Cate Blanchett, Givenchy, 2011
This is like if a Viking and Tinkerbell had a kid.
6.) Vera Farmiga, Marchesa, 2010
Some people liked this. Crazy ones, apparently. This disaster of a time warp is inexcusable. What a shame, Vera. (p.s. I even picked the least flattering picture to rub it in = Evil Genius)
7.) Uma Thurman, Christian LaCroix, 2004
I’ve tried to avoid the reeeeally obviously bad (Bjork as a swan, Celine wearing her clothing backwards) but I cannot let this one go. Nothing here is working. And this was not that long after Ethan left her! She should have been looking all sorts of Unattainable and Hot. Disgraceful.
8.) Juliette Binoche, Jean Paul Gaultier, 2001
Flapper Girl? Victorian Socialite? Dominatrix? All three.
9.) Katherine Heigl, Escada, 2008
This is another gown that people loved. Sure, it’s well-fitted and she appears to be following all the rules…but somewhere it just goes wrong. I think she looks ridiculous and the hair and makeup are BAD. Also, I can’t stand this chick which admittedly clouds my judgment, but ohwell.
10.) Beyonce Knowles, 2009
No one can tell me who designed this, so obviously it was her mother. Fail. She looks like a Chinese lacquer vase. It’s horrible.
I can’t wait to see what everyone is going to wear this year. I’m particularly dying to see what Rooney Mara cooks up. Now that this business is out of the way, I’ll be spending my days watching nominated films, looking forward to making my picks for all of the categories, and continuing to feel pissed off that Kirsten Dunst was not nominated for Melancholia. Cheers, everyone!
Oh, and I must add just one inside joke: #lifeofriley 😉