You guys, Hollywood Prom happened last night!
Apparently, it happened to be terrible.
I was not watching last night, but because of the miracle of the internet I was updated on the important things, thanks to Twitter and Facebook in general and, during a particular point, no fewer than five people contacting me simultaneously to tell me that Melissa Leo was imploding like a bad soufflÃ©. (More on this later.)
However, the red carpet was not all bad. I have put together a (truly enormous) post of the highlights, for better or worse.
And the winners are…
First of all, the trend of neutrals polarized last night, where, in an attempt to avoid the Attack of the Beige that’s been everywhere the last two years, many people went for red, Hollywood’s anti-neutral. (Technically I guess neon is the anti-neutral, but we all saw how that went down for Jennifer Lawrence at the SAGs. That’s quite enough of that, thank you; red will do just fine.)
THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE DIVISION
Anne Hathaway, trying to look as bland as possible, just to settle the question in case you were holding out an ounce of hope she’d somehow be able to whip out a good Catwoman.
Hailee Steinfeld, looking as adorable and put-together and age-appropriate as it’s possible to look, wearing shoes that make my ankles hurt.
Celine Dion, who wore that amazing backwards tux one year, got savaged, and decided to never do anything risky on the red carpet ever again. (And here begins the evening’s leitmotif of wearing enormous honking emeralds.)
Jennifer Hudson, looking a little oversculpted everywhere, as if she’s actually subbing in a wax figure that was lifted from photo station to photo station.
Daphne Zuniga. “YOU GUYS, CHECK OUT HOW YOUTHFULLY UNCONCERNED I AM.” And she is. I swear, by 2040 Hollywood will announce their first immortal.
…and with our luck, it’ll be Gwyneth Paltrow. (I think would really like this dress, except that I cannot stand her face to the point that I glanced at it for two seconds, then the “Cate Blanchett lost the Oscar to you oh my God you have to be kidding me with this” bile rose, and I had to keep scrolling.)
The totally awesome John Hawkes, with a guest whose name I do not know. However, whoever she is, her dress is Goth Deco, and I dig it.
Sandra Bullock, who looks a little pissed to be wearing the trendy color, but who is very effectively throwing shade at who I can only hope is Anne Hathaway, out of frame.
Jacki Weaver, a very strong actress in a very awful dress.
Michelle Williams, who technically looks fine, but who has the air of one whose every step is being haunted by the spirit of Carey Mulligan.
Hilary Swank, wearing a lovely dress that obviously makes her extremely uncomfortable. I know why she does this (she keeps getting “strong” roles that apparently require super-glam red carpet dresses so people don’t think she’s a Boston Spinster, if you know what I mean), but you really get the idea that every time Tilda Swinton shows up in a bitchin’ pair of slacks, Hilary just sees it and sighs.
Meanwhile, Halle Berry carries this kind of dress like she wears it out grocery shopping.
Nicole Kidman, a very bored actress in an interesting dress.
Livia Giuggioli, looking lovely, and bonus Colin Firth, looking dashing. I love their “I can barely be bothered with this smiling nonsense” faces.
Florence, wearing a Florence Costume. It’s so much her style that there’s no point in trying to judge it by red carpet rubrics. (Which is good news for her, because otherwise she is looking suspiciously like that is a crinoline for the real dress, and not in that awesome deconstructed way so much as the “I work in the high school theatre costume department and this production of The Pirates of Penzance set in the early 1900s is not going to dress itself” way.)
Penelope Cruz IS The Firebird, this year at the Springfield Community Ballet.
Jennifer Lawrence, not realizing that if you’re wearing a minimalist tank dress and you don’t put your hair up, you look like an ad for the Juniors department at Nordstrom. This lady has the potential to be a truly marvelous actress. WHO IS DRESSING HER LIKE THIS.
(People who have not seen Winter’s Bone might not believe me, but her face is seriously magnetic when she’s acting. I am surprised how nondescript she looks here.)
Mandy Moore. You know, I’ve never listened much to her music, but she seems to have her head on straight, so I like her fine. She also seems to have a nice middle-of-the-road stylist, so her red carpet style is very Nice, in that way that a lot of people who don’t want to look like fashion victims look Nice, and I like it fine.
However, for whatever reason, this dress is a STUNNAH. Something about the relatively tight silhouette, the contrast between the silver and the netting, the unexpected sleeves — I really love it. Almost the look of the night.
Then Cate Blanchett showed up.
It’s a crisp silhouette, and the front looks ever so slightly like a Lous XIV chair, and amid the teensy lavender rufflefest there’s that hint of yellow at the neckline. On someone else, the dress would be wearing them. (Imagine poor Hilary’s face trying to walk this thing down the carpet.)
The thing about Cate (which other red carpet contenders like Tilda Swinton also share) is that she wears Fashion with a capital F — and she knows how to wear it. Winnah and still champion.
Two actresses I don’t like, in a color I enjoy, in styles I question. Not that this is the first time I have disapproved of how they were dressed, I’m just saying.
Scarlett Johanssen, whose dress is actually a lovely silhouette and color combination, in the worst lace of the night. (Barely; Melissa Leo gave her a run for her money. We’ll get to that.)
Natalie Portman, who has won the Oscar for the movie in which she looks freaked out a lot and masturbates. Her dress is very nice, except that you think if they were going to whip out the couture, they could have gotten a seamstress on the case and figured out how much her stomach was going to lift the front hem so they could make sure the dress hit the floor all the way around. As it is, this dress is basically screaming “I HAVE A BUN IN THE OVEN, AND ALSO SOME QUESTIONABLE SHOES.”
Mila Kunis. An actress on whom I am neutral, in whose dress I am disappointed. Normally she aces the red carpet, and has been my look of the night at least twice, but the bodice of this dress makes her top half look bizarre, and all the lace on the bottom just looks like a Rita Hayworth boudoir costume. (Please, fashion people, let’s not make lace a trend, all right? Don’t do that to me. Be a pal.)
Amy Adams takes the win for the ladies in purple (or indigo, in this case). I love this look, except that she could have done without the emerald door-knocker around her neck and just let the bracelet do the work.
THE NOIR DIVISION, encompassing all dresses of darkish hue, only because I refuse to do things like a one-woman Gunmetal Division.
Virginia Madsen. I am beginning to wonder if she doesn’t actually get dressed and it’s just that her emotional state just becomes visible when she leaves the house, because every time I see her, I just think, “That…looks about right.”
Julia Ormond. Okay, Julia, seriously, I loved Smilla’s Sense of Snow as much as the next movie nerd who likes cold places, but what exactly are you brewing behind the scenes that you are suddenly on every high-profile red carpet? Is it a secret? Are you just not telling me? Because you should tell me — I have watched Smilla’s Sense of Snow eight hundred times, I have earned the scoop.
Speaking of scoop, pull up your bodice.
Reese Witherspoon, who has a movie coming out this spring and would like you to remember that now that you have seen her again. She would also like to take this opportunity to audition for the Dusty Springfield biopic.
Thank you, Sharon Stone. I needed that laugh.
Marisa Tomei in a deep-navy 50s number. Wish her hair was up, but it’s otherwise very nice.
Special points to the lady behind her on the right, who saw that picture coming and posed like a boss.
Medieval Milady Helena Bonham Carter, true to form. Carry on.
Annette Bening, deploying her emerald door-knockers to fantastic effect. Despite the fact that, at this angle, the beading makes her look two-dimensional from the bust down, she looks great in other shots, so this is another win. She’s really having a great run of it.
This is Camila Alves. She is so good-looking that when I hit this picture I said “Whoa” out loud in my living room. Also, she is wearing a half-open umbrella.
But the winner of the Noir Division:
Helen Mirren, DAMN, DAME.
OPEN LETTER DIVISION
Dear Melissa Leo,
I know how long you have been in the industry. I know how hard it is for a woman who has fallen under the Sex Symbol radar in her youth to get work that’s at all rewarding or interesting. I know you have done your time in no-budget indies and playing 6th fiddle in movies like 21 Grams; I know you were good in all of them, because I have been following your career since I was 8 years old. I like you that much.
When you hit the collective radar after Frozen River, I was so happy for you I can’t express it. When you hit the radar again so soon for The Fighter, I was thrilled.
Your red-carpet missteps, I watched with vague affection. Then at some point you wised up and hired a stylist, because you realized you cannot conduct the peripheral business of being an actor all on your own. Your look improved markedly. (Tonight notwithstanding; I love the shape of this dress, but lace is a hard sell, and this is the doily-est lace I have seen on the red carpet since the 80s ended.)
I wish you had done the same thing with a publicist, because you handling your campaign was becoming a joke leading up to the awards, and that can work against you.
I also wish you had written a short acceptance speech and stuck to it.
Because the thing about this is, sure, you’ve won the Oscar. It’s a huge achievement. I understand that you are excited. But we live in a brutal and unfair world in which women do not get the second chances that men get. Young women generally do not get them, women over 40 do not get them, ever — women over 40 ABSOLUTELY do not get them in Hollywood. You had managed to slip through the cracks and were on the verge of a great career; I hope the same is true tomorrow, but faux pas tend to stick to women a lot longer, and you dropped the F-bomb on live TV and talked for so long that, as I write this, they are probably making you a page at memegenerator.
I will continue to follow your career, because I think you are a remarkable actress. I will continue to hope that you hire a publicist.
A big fan,
RANDOM ACTOR-NERDERY DIVISION
Winner: Aggeliki Papoulia (far right). I have now queued your movie based solely on your face in this photo.
Photos via the exhaustive Yahoo! red carpet report.