At the 88th Academy Awards, Chris Rock diffused the diversity controversy that hung over the Dolby Theater with his raw yet dexterous brand of comedy, acknowledging a need for change within Hollywood while keeping the show on track. It’s been so long since an Oscar host was actually entertaining, I had forgotten these things used to sometimes be funny. Not everything was comedic gold, I still can’t figure out the point of the Girl Scout bit. Girl Scout cookies sell themselves because they are delicious and somewhat deceptively named. Thin Mints for example give you the false impression you can swallow sleeves of cookies whole like a boa constrictor without worrying about your waistline while Tagalongs and Do-si-dos practically sound like you’re getting some kind of calorie-cancelling exercise simply by eating them.
Amusingly, the plan to omit thank yous from the acceptance speeches and scroll pre-prepared lists of names instead didn’t pan out amongst those who take direction for a living. Not exactly a shocker. If I ever won an Academy Award, guidelines and music wouldn’t get me off the stage, it would probably take some kind of zoo-tranquilizer dart and even then, I wouldn’t go without a fight.
But the Oscars are so much more than a platform for social change or awarding the best in film, they’re about attractive people wearing fabulous designer clothing. Watching the Oscars is all about focusing on the most superficial aspects of people who are part of the most shallow industry on Earth. It’s all about the fashion.
This year was a little more interesting than the past few years. The best and worst weren’t quite so cut and dry with many critics divided over who led the pack and whose fashion failed.
These are my picks:
Cate Blanchett was ethereal perfection in seafoam Armani Prive. In the wrong hands, this dress could look like a glue gun disaster, but with Tiffany & Co. cascading diamond earrings, sea creature bracelet and beachy bob, Cate had that just-stepped-out-of-the-waves-like-this goddess quality. This dress made both best and worst dressed lists. On anyone but Cate Blanchett, I would have categorized it as the latter. On her, it was both regal and whimsical.
Another red carpet masterpiece in motion was Saoirse Ronan in Calvin Klein. The actress chose emerald to honor her Irish heritage, however the swirling sequins of the skirt were evocative of the sky’s nocturnal undulations in Dutch post-Impressionist painter, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. While the brightest “star” in van Gogh’s painting is actually Venus, Saoirse Ronan’s luminous beauty made her one of the brightest stars on the Oscar red carpet.
The black Chanel dress Julianne Moore wore was a departure from the jewel tones she normally gravitates towards, making it a noteworthy selection. Recently, a similar version made its way down the Chanel runway on Kendall Jenner. Julianne opted for meticulously crafted effortless glamour, wearing her hair down instead of in angry Princess Leia buns with Black Swan eye makeup shown at the Chanel Haute Couture show.
Once again Charlize Theron’s red carpet appearance reminded us that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be Charlize Theron. Charlize may have terrible taste in men, but her fashion sense is impeccable. Draped in Christian Dior Couture and Harry Winston diamonds, Charlize continued her reign as the Red Carpet’s best dressed.
Mindy Kaling’s Elizabeth Kennedy dress was a little too tight, causing it to pucker, but between its black and royal blue color scheme and cape-like tie in the back, it reminded me of the superhero costume worn by Batman’s former sidekick, Nightwing, thus making the dress subjectively awesome.
Leather and Lace
Two of the trends on the red carpet were the sartorial version of the Stevie Nicks/Don Henley duet, Leather and Lace.
Jennifer Lawrence’s black tiered Dior gown was one of the lace trend’s best examples, a modern take on the black lace and ruffles favored by Stevie Nicks who paved the way for goth girls who want to keep their hair blonde.
Rooney Mara also wore lace. The cut-out sheer dress by Givenchy Haute Couture was a cometh hither combination of demure and provocative, however the sci-fi hair and white platform sandals detracted from the dress.
Versace-clad Kerry Washington looked like she was wearing Xena’s prom dress: ass-kicking leather on top, glamorous femininity on the bottom.
Margot Robbie glittered like a gold dust woman in a long-sleeve gold leather embellished Tom Ford gown. In 85 degree heat. I’m really not sure how she wasn’t glistening buckets.
This year’s Oscars refuted my long-held belief that Kate Winslet would look gorgeous even in a garbage bag. Making a rare sartorial misstep, Kate’s Ralph Lauren gown was evocative of a Hefty Cinch Sak. Draw me like one of your tall kitchen bags.
Another fashion disappointment was Olivia Wilde who, like Kate Winslet, usually nails the red carpet. I wanted to like Olivia Wilde’s Valentino dress, but ultimately I couldn’t shake the fact that it looked like Mature Bride’s take on Leeloo’s bandage outfit.
I can’t even take Amy Poehler’s Andrew Gn dress seriously, she looks like she’s being eaten alive by Audrey Jr. flesh-eating embroidery. A stylist supposedly did this to her on purpose, why I do not know, but humanity may need to call on Lucy Liu’s badassery.
This year Marchesa happened to Heidi Klum. The dress looked like a failed practice assignment using canopy curtains and shoddy magic at Fairy Godmother Conjuring School. The dress Cinderella’s rodent friends made her looked better than this Marchesa dress even after it was destroyed. Not only is this a lock for this year’s Worst Dressed award, it’s epically hideous, likely to show up on Most Tragic Oscar Fashion lists for years to come.