Red Carpet Rundown: 2011 Academy Awards

So many gorgeous dresses on the red carpet at last night’s Oscars. My best list is way longer than my worst list— always a good thing.

Big themes of the night: red, nude, sparkles and easy, simple hair.

The Best:

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Hailee Steinfeld in Marchesa. Teenage dream. This is the perfect choice for 14-year old Hailee. It’s young but refined, gorgeous but not too sexy. The gold pumps with that long tea-length hem is adorable on her. Love her hair— simple, chic and the headband is a perfect touch. It’s prima ballerina, but not overly so. She knocked this out of the park. If this were Miley Cyrus, she’d be in some slit-up-to-there, cut down-to-there ridiculous skank gown, trying to scream how sexy she is with her outfit. Not Hailee; she’s all class.

Image courtesy of Just Jared

Camila Alves in Dolce and Gabbana. Loved this! Basic black, but so unreal. The cut is amazing; love how the sexy plunging neckline is juxtaposed by the full princess skirt. Camila looked incredible— she kept the hair chic and shiny, adding diamond jewelry in the perfect places. Respect that she didn’t jack up that neckline with a necklace; leaving it bare was the best choice. Showcase that collarbone, girl.

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Gwyneth Paltrow in Calvin Klein. Liquid gold. Right? Gwyn looked molten here, especially at the bottom of the skirt where the material gathers. I really liked this; the color is the perfect mix of silver and gold. I think a deeper/bolder gold might have clashed with her skin tone, but this light gold is perfect. Gwyneth and her super tight body manage to pull of serious shimmer and still look simple chic. The square neckline is interesting; makes it more modern. (Calvin has been doing lots of modern minimalism lately, yes?)

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Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein. Another CK; more modern minimalism. Jennifer looks beautiful here; the cut of the gown shows off her body without shoving her chest in your face. No choker, thank you very much. She’s sexy without trying. The best kind of sexy. Great hair choice— easy, loose, long. Another improvement over the BAFTAs.

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Hilary Swank in Gucci. Oh my gorgeous. Incredible gown— how does it have everything and still manage to not be too much? Crystal-encrusted bodice blending into ombré feathers? I’m dying. Love how that icy color of the top blends into a plum-y gray at the hem. So sick. It moved beautifully, too. Did you see it on the carpet? Mesmerizing.

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Reese Witherspoon in Armani Privé. Classic. This reminded me of Julia Roberts in that epic vintage Valentino. Slim silhouette; perfect on her body. Love the touch of green on her ears. The hair was fun, and a bit of a departure from what we normally see her do beauty-wise. Win-win.

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Scarlett Johansson in Dolce and Gabbana. Really different, but I loved this. The color looked amazing on her; really complimented her skin tone. Fitted, boudoir, a little sexy, a little Spanish. I love the high neck; low-cut might have been too much (especially with Scarlett’s assets). The hair was controlled bedhead; super sexy. Her eyes popped with that bronze shadow. Beautiful!

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Halle Berry in Marchesa. Is there anyone else, really? Halle is crazy beautiful. This dress was amazing; so intricate with the crystal detail and the architectural tulling around the skirt. Like she’s on a cloud? Or standing in fashion cotton candy? That warm nude and her skin is fabulous. Loved the hint of baby pink pump as she walked.

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Mila Kunis in Elie Saab. So Miss Mila has been kicking some serious outfit ass on the red carpet this season. I have loved almost everything she’s worn, and this light lavender Elie Saab is another example. The folding at the bust is artful, the lace throughout the gown is insane, and I love low sweeping neckline. It’s dangerously low (I was waiting for nipple), but somehow it’s tawdry or try-hard. Just ethereal and perfect.

The Meh:

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Amy Adams in L’Wren Scott. This gown is gorgeous. But it’s styled all wrong. The green gems look great against the blue, but the silver chain? No. It makes it look old. I don’t like the way the neck wraps. With that high neck, I wouldn’t have chosen a necklace at all. It all gets too crowded around her face— the loose hair, the necklace wrapped around and around, the high sparkly neckline. Nope. She’s being eaten alive by a bad jewelry decision. A few tweaks, and this is gorgeous. Think about it— no try-hard jewelry and this is amazing.

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Anne Hathaway in Valentino Haute Couture. So this was vintage. Not that impressed. The red is a great color for Anne, but that’s about all I can say about this look. The dress is boring until you get to the those rose pouches, and then it’s annoying. It looks like tissue paper stuffed into a Christmas gift sack. It was good that Anne changed out of this gown almost immediately into about nine other looks for the show, because this wasn’t a winner.

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Jennifer Hudson in Atelier Versace. I wasn’t a fan of this. It didn’t piss me off (see Marisa Tomei below), but the whole look was wrong. That color might have been acceptable, if it didn’t come in 30-lbs. of taffeta. Seriously, how much fabric is in that dress? So much folding. The taffeta in that color photographs cheap. (Side note: taffeta tends to photograph cheap, so watch yourself.) She looked like a creamsicle. And a creamsicle is so far beneath Jennifer Hudson. The halter top is crushing her chest; does she have pancake boob? I think so. This was forced, not fresh.

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Natalie Portman in Rodarte. Almost. So close to being a best. The color was amazing, I love the off-the-shoulder and the sweeping neckline, her hair is perfect, and her makeup is gorgeous. I just wanted the gown to be a little more fitted and little less muu-muu. Show that bump off, don’t hide it with yards of chiffon. But maybe I should cut her a break? Because word on 5th Avenue is that Natalie scrapped her original dress last minute— a Dior— because of Galliano’s racist meltdown last week and switched to this Rodarte. Points for that.

The Worst:

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Cate Blanchett in Givenchy. No. Not even a little bit. Cate has killer style, and often perfectly walks the line between classic and avant garde. She rolls her eyes at boring-pretty, so I know better than to expect Cate to show up dressed like Mila/Reese/Halle.  But this… I get I’m supposed to be all fashion-savvy (or whatever), and I’m supposed to like stuff that isn’t conventional and/or safe. Yeah, I hear you. However, I’m still from the school of thought that fashion should be flattering, and more often than not it should be gorgeous— especially on the Oscars red carpet. Which is why this dress isn’t working for me. I feel like she put on one of those cardboard signs (like one would wear when directing traffic into a car wash or Checks for Cash or whatever) that has a dinner plate on the front. Come Buy My Lavender Dinner Plate. The beading is a pretty idea, but it’s oddly executed. Those look like tuning forks coming off her hips, and why is there random section of yellow around the collar? There’s too much I would have to ignore in order to like this. Can’t do it. Not even for Cate.

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Melissa Leo in Marc Bouwer. All I could think of when I saw this dress was those paper snowflakes I cut out for Christmas every year and taped to my bedroom window. The dress looked stiff, a little too big, and like it might rip. I kept wondering if the high neck was going to paper cut her cheeks.

Image courtesy of US Magazine

Marisa Tomei in Charles James. Right, so this was apparently vintage. I don’t care what decade it is, it’s ugly. The top is budget— the material looks thin and the seams piss me off. Why does the bodice come up so high? It makes it look as though the dress is hiked up too far from the shoulders. Those straps aren’t flattering. The sateen is wrinkled (as sateen does), and has given her a mom-pouch. The skirt is gross— I don’t like the color variation and the bubble hem looks like a dust ruffle my Grandma has on her guest bed. The sheer looks like an accident; are you supposed to be able to see through it? Even that strip of dark fabric at the bottom? When Tomei walked, the skirt lurched around her feet and she kept stepping on it. It was bulky. No flow at all. So bad. And here’s another thing about vintage— it has to be perfect, and perfect for you. It’s not ubiquitous; not everyone can wear it. Tomei apparently can’t wear it.


As always, your comments are welcome. Who did you love? Hate? Are we fighting about Natalie Portman? Or Scarlett? Let me have it.


  1. I was looking forward to this!! Didn’t disappoint…though, me personally? We might be fighting about Natalie. I would totally flip flop Scarlett and Natalie. And I definitely loved Mila Kunis…I think her break-up from “Home Alone” has reignited her! Good for her!!

  2. We’re not fighting (too much) about Natalie Portman. 🙂 I really loved the whole look, I didn’t mind that she’s not showing her bump.

    I hated Marisa Tomei’s dress, too! It was the worst of the night!

    Great post! I love Red Carpet Rundowns!

  3. Just found this blog from IFB and I love it! So cool!

    My favorites were Halle and Anne Hathaway.
    I didn’t care for Cate Blanchett or Melissa Leo at all! Really bad choices!

  4. Ahhh, I love your red carpet posts!

    My list:

    -Best- Amy Adams (I loved the blue, despite the jewelry, but I agree she should have left the necklace at home). The gown was so pretty- I loved the way it moved!

    -Worst- Melissa Leo (she TOTALLY looked like a paper snowflake, you are right).

  5. I agree with all your picks! Hailee Steinfeld looks adorable and her OWN age! Lol at the Miley comment.

    I can’t believe someone let Marisa out of the house looking like that!

    Excellent post, as always!

  6. Where is Mandy Moore??? I thought she looked SO pretty on the red carpet. LOL you should do a post on Ms. Hathaway’s costume changes alone!

  7. Loved Hailee, she looked young but classy, so beautiful. One of my favorites was Gwyneth, her dress was almost-not-extravagant-enough for the Oscars, but matched the event perfectly because the whole show had a modern vibe. Great choice. Mila, also great. I have to downgrade Scarlett though, I didnt like it at all. And what happened to Cate Blanchett? I can’t even start to explain how ugly that dress was.

    Great post! Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  8. Glad you all are feeling the Mila-Love. She looked incredible.

    Allie- I wanted to include Mandy Moore but at the last minute, I didn’t. I had her on the best list, and then the more I looked at her, the less in love I fell with her look. The dress was pretty, but there was something off about her face…? The strong center part + heavy brows + bold lip, maybe?

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