2011 Oscars: Best and Worst Dressed and More on the Red Carpet

It’s absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. – Oscar Wilde

I won’t be dividing the red carpet looks from last night’s Academy Awards into “charming” and “tedious” (although I would kind of like to), but I can’t simply classify them as “good” and “bad”. So instead I’ll do a “Worst” countdown, a “Best” countdown, and also put a few people into new categories – “Yawn” and “Close, But No Cigar”. Let’s start with the Worst, since that’s the most fun.

The Eight Worst Dressed

8. Sharon Stone

Oh, Sharon Stone. Does she ever look classy? I know some people thought she looked great, but I thought she looked like an aging high-class escort. The hair was too big, the makeup was too heavy (emphasize your eyes OR your lips, Sharon, not both) and the dress somehow reminded me of Cruella Deville.

Grade: C-

7. Jennifer Hudson

This one really breaks my heart, since I’ve always loved Jennifer Hudson and she’s lost all that weight. But this dress just seemed really, really tacky to me. Orange is a hard color to wear, but orange + shiny fabric + lotsa cleavage +gathered at the hip = looking like the school tramp at prom.

Grade: C-

6. Penelope Cruz

 Speaking of the school slut at prom…I just can’t get behind Penelope Cruz’s choice. She’s a beautiful woman and I love the color on her, but all those red sequins with all that cleavage just screamed “Open for Business!” to me. I usually complain that Penelope wears too many princess dresses. This time, the pendulum swung too far in the other direction.

Grade: C-

5. Nicole Kidman

 From some angles, this gown was actually OK. But most of the time, it was just unflattering. It made her hips look wide and her chest look small, and it kind of looked like it was made from a really fancy bedspread. And then she lost even more points for the garish orange shoes.

Grade: D

4. Marisa Tomei

Here, I suffered from a classic case of raised expectations. I saw a few tweets that Marisa Tomei looked great, but when I caught a glimpse I hated the gown. Where to begin? The neckline is too high and it looks weird. The skirt looks like someone decided to sew half of another gown onto what she was already wearing. Her hair sucks. There’s weird pleating in the hip area. She…well, you get my drift. It’s a fashion fail.

Grade: D

3. Helena Bonham Carter

 Sometimes I can rejoice in the wacky wonder that is Helena Bonham Carter, but here she just actually looks like Bellatrix Lestrange. I hate the sleeves, and the corset, and the whole thing really reminds me of the early 90s. Not even mismatched shoes could save this look.

Grade: D-

2. Florence Welch

Her band might be called Florence and the Machine, but her gown looks like it was handmade. In the 1800s. Seriously, did she craft that thing out of curtains and doilies from her grandmother’s apartment? Did she borrow it from her grandmother? Was it her grandmother’s wedding gown? Did someone come over on the Mayflower wearing it? Should I continue asking questions to imply that it looks really, really old?

Grade: F

1. Melissa Leo

Congratulations, Melissa. Not only did you bomb (or F-bomb) your speech, but you kinda sucked at the red carpet too. Apparently she chose this dress based on what her character in The Fighter would have picked. Honestly, I cannot think of a worse possible way to choose a gown for the Oscars than “Hmmm, I wonder what the white trash psycho I brilliant portrayed would have worn?” And why is she channeling Elvis so much? Was she hoping to score a role in a movie playing him the way Cate Blanchett played Bob Dylan? That’s also a terrible way to choose your red carpet looks. Oh, Melissa. You’re a hell of an actress, but you need a new stylist.

Grade: F 

YAWN – Three women who bored me to tears

Left to right: Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams, Halle Berry

 I know Jennifer Lawrence will be at the top of a lot of Best Dressed lists today, but I just can’t get into a girl who wears a gown that looks like a swimsuit. Seriously, from the neck up she looked like a character on Baywatch. There’s simplistic elegance, and then there’s just…nothing. There is just nothing exciting about that dress. Grade: C+

Michelle Williams has been, for better or for worse, adorably quirky. So why the boring T-shirt dress? I feel like I’ve seen that look done better on a million different girls before. Plus it didn’t help that she seemed to be speaking in some kind of put-on accent during her red carpet interviews, which is really lame considering she’s from Montana and was once on Dawson’s Creek. She gets props for bringing the lovable Busy Phillips as her date, though. Grade: C+

Halle Berry. Oh, Halle. Another one who will be at the top of many Best Dressed lists today. But I’m sorry. I am so over Halle Berry. It seems like she wears almost the same dress the every awards show, in either black, brown or champagne. Come on, Halle! Mix it up a little! Grade: B-

Close, But No Cigar

Sometimes a star shows up on the red carpet and you say “Ooh, she looks fantastic!” But as soon as the words are out of your mouth (or entered into Twitter for the world to see) you notice the one thing keeping that celebrity from looking like a million bucks. Here are six women who almost got it right:

Clockwise: Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams

I wanted to like Sandra Bullock’s gown, I really did. I like her so much as an actress and celebrity, and she looked so fantastic when she was nominated for everything last year. And in theory, this dress was nice. But on TV the top just didn’t fit right, and I couldn’t put her on the Best Dressed list. Sorry, Sandy. We’ll always have 2010. Grade: B-

I liked Reese Witherspoon’s gown, but her hair caused much debate at the party I attended. I thought it looked like Jessica Simpson hair extensions. Another girl pointed out that it was reminiscent of her Legally Blonde character, Elle Woods. Most of Twitter suggested it looked like a Barbie. Whatever it was, it took her look from classic to dresses for prom in a bad way. Grade: B-

Not everyone liked Scarlett Johansson’s gown, but I thought it was different and cool and sexy. My problem was with her greasy, stringy hair. Seriously, ScarJo, there is such a thing as too much mousse. Grade: B

Annette Bening has been hit-and-miss all season, and she came really close to a hit here. I like the dress. But something about those lines just ended up being really unflattering. Maybe it was her posture, maybe it was the shiny material. But whatever it was, the camera did not love it. Grade: C

A lot of people really liked Gwyneth’s tinfoil gown, but I had two problems with it. One, the weird slit down the front was way too space-suit. Two, it didn’t fit well and from the right angle really emphasized how flat-chested she is. Grade: C+

Consider Amy Adams to be an honorable mention on my Best Dressed list, because I absolutely loved her gown. The gown was stunning, her hair and makeup were stunning…she was all set to make my top five of the night. And then someone added that necklace. If it was a stylist, he or she should be fired. If it was Amy, she should hire a stylist. Why? Why would anyone think that necklace went with that gown? It’s so unfair! Grade: B- (without the necklace it would have been an A-)

And then there’s Cate…

Some of you may have been thinking “Where is Cate Blanchett? Why wasn’t she on the Worst Dressed list?” Well, she’s not on the Worst list because I think her gown is the epitome of “Close But No Cigar”.

From the waist down, the gown is gorgeous. The color suits her and it’s just bizarre enough to suit her high fashion tastes. Cate Blanchett is one of those people who can pretty much pull off anything on the red carpet. In fact, if anyone could have pulled this off it would have been her. Unfortunately, no one could pull this off.

From the neck up? Well, first of all the gown looks like it has a disease. A fashion STD, if you will. I just hope it wasn’t contagious. And then there’s the fact that it is circling her chest. And the green accents? Not really disproving my whole disease theory. So from the waist down and the neck up, Cate looks great. But the chest is the “no cigar”.

Grade: C-

Honorable Mentions: Performance Outfits

And the award for best dressed while singing goes to…Chuck Bartowski! My beloved Zachary Levi may have looked a tad too tan, but damn, did he look dapper. Plus I’m just thrilled with the fact that his awesome swoon-worthiness was displayed to a large audience. Grade: A

Oh yeah, and some women sang too. Florence Welch’s gown looked better on TV than in photos, but at least it was a step up from her red carpet get up. Grade: B- As for Gwyneth, she can do better – and I’m talking both about her dress and her singing. Grade: C And while Mandy Moore’s dress was certainly…large, I thought it was a great choice for performing a song from a fairy tale. Grade: B+

The Seven Best Dressed

7. Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore was a little unrecognizable at first – did she always look so much like Anne Hathaway? – but she looked like a princess in this gorgeous sparkling gown. Fitting, considering she was there to sing a nominated song from Tangled.

Grade: B+

6. Celine Dion

This is a woman who once wore a backwards tuxedo to the Oscars. You’ve come a long way, baby.

Grade: A-

5. Hilary Swank

 White swan at the top, black swan at the bottom! I’m not usually a fan of Hilary Swank, but last night she looked soft and pretty. It was like she was Matt Damon’s sister, rather than him dressed in drag.

Grade: A-

4. Helen Mirren

There’s that damn Helen Mirren…(a reference to last year’s co-hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.)

Who knew gray could look so good? I really love the puffed sleeves and waistline on this gown, and the necklace works in an unexpected way. This woman exudes class the way Colin Firth exudes charm, and it helps that her bit with Russell Brand was hilarious.

Grade: A-

3. Hailee Steinfeld

Fashion icon in the making? I think so. Hailee Steinfeld exudes so much confidence and charm that it’s easy to forget she’s a teenager who was nominated for her first ever role.

Apparently she helped design this Marchesa number, which is pretty much every teenage girl’s dream come true. I love how youthful, fun and pretty it is. The length is great and different, and the neckline is so pretty. She’s worn her hair down a lot, so it was great to see her with it pulled back and her makeup was fantastic.

Grade: A


2. Mila Kunis
I think Mila Kunis has landed in either the #1 or #2 spot on my Best Dressed list all season, so this girl deserves serious praise. She’s wowed me with her use of color, the gorgeous cuts of the gowns she’s chosen, and her overall beauty.

This dress was the sexiest one of all. When she walked onto the red carpet, I thought “This? This is why men watch red carpets.” She manages to show a lot of skin without looking cheap, and it struck the perfect balance of modern sex appeal and old Hollywood glamor.

Grade: A

1. Natalie Portman

It’s hard to compare Natalie and Mila since Mila looked so sexy and Natalie is pregnant, but I had to give the top spot to Natalie for just looking so freakin’ amazing. The cut of her dress was so flattering and made her look effortlessly beautiful. She has definitely joined the ranks of pregnant style icons like Jessica Alba, Catherine Zeta Jones and Angelina Jolie.

My favorite things about the gown were the color and the neckline, and I also absolutely loved her tassel earrings. Some people on Twitter were bashing them, but as one like-minded tweeter said to me, it’s nice to see a departure from the usual glitzy diamonds and gems.

While I loved Natalie’s hair, I didn’t love her makeup. Up close there was too much eyeshadow under her eyes and it made her look a bit tired.

Still, I was blown away by her beauty.

Grade: A+

Who were your fashion favorites of the night? Who was the biggest failure? Share in the comments!

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