Welcome back to awards season! It’s all happening. It’s alllll happening.
Luckily, we know the drill by now: the show is too long and either grindingly awkward or screechingly awful, and the awards handed out are an exercise in the surreal. This time around, the Golden Globes managed to be even more impressively head-scratchy and off-putting than usual, and I hope nobody here watched them. Instead, let’s just get right to the important part: the red carpet that demands its own set of acting skills, where you have to manage the press pit without looking like you’re actually worried about impressing anybody, and then somehow deliver perfect pictures and ironclad sound bites in the middle of it.
Don’t believe me? Here’s Emmy Rossum, who is somehow unspeakably good at performative effortlessness, looking like a screencap from “Seducing The Press Pit: The Emmy Rossum Story”:
And here’s Kate Bosworth, looking like a doll you’ve taken out of the big box but still have to separate from the cardboard backing:
Whoever taught Kate Bosworth her poses for tonight was not her friend. Buy better friends, Bosworth!
By now (especially if you’ve been reading my rundowns) we’ve all talked plenty about the performative aspect of all this. Witness Alicia Vikander, whose Sunday involved a day in a hotel room with two people and a hidden mirror person working on her simultaneously, so she could go out on the red carpet looking carefree and underdone. Obviously it’s fascinating, and an ecosystem that easily supports itself, and we recognize its absurdity as sort of a necessary step before we can get down to the fun stuff.
There’s a lot of talk about “winning” the red carpet, which I understand from a “which makeup artist gets to charge twice as much next month” perspective, but honestly, this red carpet has really pulled together to the point that, aside from the occasional stumble, there aren’t huge mistakes. It’s become an incredibly genteel, vapid, vaguely racist competition over whose polish is the most polished – who can climb the mountains of designer loaners, dragging with her only the finest stylists, and stand atop the 360-degree camera with a smile that says, “No, trust me, I fucking know.” Really, there’s no particular Look of the Night when everyone’s got this much prep behind them.
Brie Larson, for example, was not wearing the evening’s best dress, but it is absolutely the dress of someone who is dressing to match the award everyone knows she’s going to get:
It looks ever so slightly like the glow of an upcoming win is making her dress melt, doesn’t it? That dress does exactly what it needs to do.
LOOKS OF THE NIGHT
That said, Helen Mirren kind of tore down that 360-degree cam booth and fucking ate it to cement her victory, you know?
Jessica and David Oyelowo. He is always impeccably tailored and slightly ahead of the curve (you will never be able to tell me his burgundy at last year’s Oscars wasn’t one of the things that influenced The Rock and Jason Statham this year). She has a great sense of style that’s understated but just personal enough that you feel like if you got stuck in an elevator with her, her phone would work and she’d kind of pretend she was as nervous as you after she hung up just so the mood in the elevator would be evened out, you know?
Superhero Movie winner:
Regina King and Laverne Cox. Laverne is as impeccable as always; Regina is in a lovely gown with a completely extraneous cape that we can only assume she wore as a subtle hint that she and Laverne are about to announce a superhero project, because can you imagine these two as 1930s singers who use their traveling careers as a cover for their nightly vigilante work? What I am saying is, call me.
Why The Hell Not winner:
Denis O’Hare. My only wish for this outfit is that we’d gotten a better look at the rings, though since the rest of this look is kinda perfect, let’s assume they’re cool.
And while I spent literally an entire hour of my life with a “trend report” show in which people asked stylists what they thought celebrities were likely to wear, the major trend was, as always, What I’m Planning to Do After This Project, Thanks. (In fairness to the show, it was wretchedly stupid; at one point, the host asked a stylist what Jennifer Lawrence, whose red carpet looks are all part of her endorsement deal with Dior, could possibly wear on the red carpet that looked glamorous, given how “dressed-down” she was in JOY. For half a second, the stylist’s eyes filled with horror at the possibility they might actually have to explain to a grown adult how movies work. Unfortunately for all of us, that moment passed.)
One trend that I am always excited about: The Evening Sleeve!
EVENING SLEEVE DIVISION
Bryce Dallas Howard. Her red-carpet anecdote was a good one, and she came locked and loaded: she bought her own dress at Neiman Marcus because she’s a size 6, and she wanted “more than one” option, which is the frothiest possible way to silently condemn designers without actually hurting your future chances. It’s a really smart dress pick, too; understated silhouette, sexy but not too sexy for potential serious leading lady roles, with glimmer that doesn’t seem too young for the single-mother dramas award shows thrive on. Clever girl. (YEAH, I DID, AND I AM SORRY.)
Judith Light makes a white tux look like a no-brainer. I have no idea how you do that, but Judith Light sure does!
Uzo Aduba looking gorgeous in a gorgeous dress whose sleeves may or may not actually be a single loop of fabric in the back. That is certainly a bold fashion choice if so, but only if you don’t plan on having to reach for anything, and given that the Globes are a dinner party, we can all assume Uzo Aduba is a lot less concerned about knocking over her water glass than I am now or have ever been.
Taraji P. Henson. There were cleaner photos of her in her caped gown (the waist cape is the new evening sleeve), but honestly this one was worth it just for the expression on the dude behind her, who has just realized how hard she’s wearing that dress and that her intensity about it could knock him sideways at any moment. (Also, those earrings look heavy enough to bruise; she is not playing around.)
Viola Davis. The color is beautiful, the detailing divine. However, you must decide whether you are going to wear a cape or an evening sleeve. Splitting the difference hardly ever works.
You know when a friend does something they know you think is slightly terrible, but it’s not terrible enough to ruin the entire friendship, and they have no regrets, and so when they tell you about it they get the instantly recognizable face where they’re just daring you to give them shit about it? That is Cate Blanchett in this fringey cape-sleeve soutache nonsense gown and Steven Universe hair. I’m stung she would do this to me.
Of course, the other trend this year was equally close to my heart, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has read The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.
NIGHTCLUB OWNERS OF HISTORY DIVISION
History is long; these dresses are great/hilarious; let’s own some nightclubs.
Saoirse Ronan, Lothlorien hostess.
So it’s like 1540, only a really Disney 1540, and Jennifer Jason Leigh owns a roadside inn where she has started a standing flirtation with the man she thinks is one of the king’s messengers….but is he secretly the King Himself? (It’s Disney, he is. But in a surprise twist, she turns him down to keep her financial independence and they end up as occasional hookup-and-advice buddies. She’s skeptical, but I promise, it’ll work out.)
Kirsten Dunst. It is 1835, she is a vampire, she runs exactly the kind of nightclub she wants to run, and she is looking to put her cigarette out in somebody’s eye. Glorious.
Gina Rodriguez. It’s 1850mumble, and Gina Rodriguez throws incredibly lavish parties at her giant estate, where she sends her network of lady spies into the crowd to flatter crucial information out of high-ranking enemies. They never know what hit them.
Natalie Dormer is a saloon owner in 1884 and if the décor is half as awkward as this neckline/shoulder combo, never go there.
it’s 1914. You can definitely get into Eva Green’s nightclub. The question is whether you ever make it out again. (You don’t. She’s also a vampire. She got her seed money from Kirsten Dunst. They’re all in this together; the nightclub business doesn’t run itself.)
Honestly, do we have proof Maggie Gyllenhaal ISN’T the owner of a nightclub in 1924? Because, I mean.
Jaimie Alexander is an incredibly stage-frighty Deco nightclub owner who dresses like the drapes so she can sneak unseen among her clientele. (Her love story is the incredibly shy guy she knocks into by accident while he’s trying to avoid talking to someone. They have a beautiful relationship no one ever sees.)
America Ferrera. It’s 1940, and she’s a Hollywood go-to for when you need a gal who can sing and dance and deliver a punchline. Her nightclub (a side business that’s also a little insurance) is A-list only, except she keeps sneaking in young women she’s met who are stuck with shitty stage work or trying to usher to make ends meet, because there’s no better story than a girl who gets discovered by accident, right? (She’s also a vampire; she rides the “But you never age!” train for a good forty years before she has to lay low a while and start again in some other city.)
Lady Gaga runs the sort of 1956 supper club where everybody on the cover of a pulp novel shows up every single night and subtexts the place into a frenzy.
There has never been a more 1970s nightclub owner than Julianne Moore in this dress, unless you were making a 1970s SF film about a retro future in which she’s actually the chanteuse of a Deco nightclub on the moon, in which case, fine, you win.
Technically Melissa McCarthy is also here, and honestly, I am so torn about this dress, which is a beautiful color in a really weird finish. The silhouette is actually great—I absolutely understand the desire to have as comfortable a red carpet getup as possible and this is very 1920s in a very 1970s way—but her style for more casual stuff is always vaguely Executive Goth in a way I can really get behind, and I wish we could see more of that on the carpet.
Kate Hudson. I have never seen so 1998 an outfit, including throughout the entirety of 1998.
It’s like, 2027 or whatever, and Carly Chaikin owns a nightclub because like, why the fuck not, you know? Fuckin’ meatspace bullshit. Wear a mermaid pelt and just get over it already.
Jennifer Lopez, who spoke the magic words and was transported to a galaxy far, far away, where she landed without a single teeter on those 6-inch heels and immediately proceeded to take over the first building she saw and turn it into the glitziest nightclub in town in under 48 hours. (Those magic words: “Oh, Angelina Jolie thinks she has legs? That’s interesting. That’s very interesting. And she downplayed the rest of her outfit, you say? VERY interesting. Perhaps I shall show her who first had legs.”)
And finally, a temporal distortion, in which Jenna Dewan Tatum from the year 2123 and Jada Pinkett-Smith from the year 1933 accidentally own the SAME nightclub separated only by time; when they discover they can pass back and forth, they’ll have to contend with the ethical issues of trying to change the future…for all the right reasons. (Their husbands just leave. Bye.)
I HAVE QUESTIONS DIVISION
Cate should have gone here; literally only her sleeves put her elsewhere.
Caitriona Balfe. My major question about this is whether Lena Headey knows someone is coming for her Punk Enclave title in this Goth Screwball Comedy Musical Number Lingerie business.
Rooney Mara, a lovely actress whose floaty-seaweed tendencies on the red carpet combined with her nervousness can occasionally work perfectly to make her look like an amazing haunted doll. This is not one of those times. Tonight, she is a regular doll whose dress is being peeled away in thready strips by a child who’s been locked in the attic for years and is three chapters away from yanking Rooney’s doll-head off and carrying that unblinking talisman with her as she murders everyone in her family in a desperate, bloody quest for freedom.
Alicia Vikander. Weirdly, I have no problems with the fact that this dress is meant to be so effortless that it’s literally an apron. When you are nominated in two categories you are unlikely to win, it’s the smartest thing in the world to look like you don’t reeaaaaally care about it enough to get more dressed up than Sleek Garden Party. It’s just the pinafore ruffle that makes her look, ever so slightly, like Molly the American Girl.
Sarah Hay. If you’re asking “Who?” and something clicks into place half a second before I say, “From that ballet show,” this dress has done exactly what she wants it to do. I’ll direct the rest of my questions to the tulle puffs.
Jennifer Lawrence. Okay. so.
That is a Full Hostage Face. She is not comfortable in this (perfectly nice, even very nice!) dress, her hair is some really meta Vertigo business, the necklace looks like a collar holding her head on, and she has performed the Red Carpet Crosslegs despite no one being able to tell. And there was a time, a few years ago, when she still seemed like the well-meaning, oblivious, iffy girl on the same floor of your dorm, who you’d never take on a road trip but can probably talk you into hilarious parties if you ever go to those. She smartly turned obliviousness into her calling card; it was close enough to candor for late-night.
For about two years after Winter’s Bone, I thought her potential was enormous, and really looked forward to what came next. By now I’m at a point with her where she’s “The young woman who was amazing in Winter’s Bone,” which makes me kind of sad. (I thought she was good in Hunger Games, and had some amazing moments in things like American Hustle, but David O. Russell is not doing her any long-term favors, Bradley Cooper is an albatross with carefully groomed scruff, and she’s got to get out of there.)
Backstage, she scolded a journalist who was using his phone to translate a question for her about what she thought this meant for the Oscars. Hopefully the fallout from that will be its own punishment, because Jennifer Lawrence: it’s past time to start thinking about this stuff.
But let’s end this on some other note, shall we?
LAST MINUTE DANGEROUS LIAISONS DIVISION
Melissa Benoist IS Cecile, the young ingenue swept up in Valmont’s underhanded seduction!
Ana de la Reguera IS Madame de Tourvel, whose strength and candor will break Valmont’s heart open like a raw egg.
…And that is actually the end of that entire division, because if anyone had giant pannier ballgowns lined up for Merteuil, they’re saving them for the Oscars and the Emmys. We’ll just have to put this cast together one event at a time. (But in the meantime, The Rock for Chevalier Danceny, maybe, right?)