PENÉLOPE CRUZ IN ATELIER VERSACE
The definition of an Oscar dress: gorgeous color, perfect fit, epic style. By nailing all three, the Volver star left the rest of this year’s mostly unadventurous gowns in her stunning, ruffled wake.
JENNIFER LOPEZ IN MARCHESA
Crystal strands, subtle color, and 20-carat gray diamond earrings enhanced J. Lo’s lavish Grecian silhouette — and while empire waists are hard to pull off, this is how you do it. Husband Marc Anthony’s response when we asked if he liked his date’s dress? ”Look at her!” he said, eyes bulging. We did.
REESE WITHERSPOON IN NINA RICCI
Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more: Witherspoon completed her eye-opening run through awards season with this deep purple flounce, and sent a million blondes running to cut bangs during the commercial break.
CATE BLANCHETT IN ARMANI PRIVÉ
Blanchett’s silver crystal mesh gown left little room for error (or lunch), but she pulled it off with immaculate grace. Plus, love that tulle overlay, which prevented the dreaded stretchy-suit-of-armor look.
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL IN PROENZA SCHOULER
The one-shouldered navy satin stood out for its maturity, but never fear, indie fans! With those wacky feather details at the hem and in her hair, your darling hasn’t completely abandoned her quirky sensibility. Yet.
KATE WINSLET IN VALENTINO COUTURE
The Kate Winslet-versus-Beyoncé Knowles Cage Match for Seafoam Supremacy has come to an end, and it’s a win for the Little Children star, whose crisscrossed bodice flattered her figure with clean simplicity.
QUEEN LATIFAH IN CARMEN MARC VALVO
2007’s refreshingly full-figured red carpet was crowned by this tuxedo gown, yet confusion reigned. Was it black? ‘Cause in the sun, it looked sort of navy…”It’s blavy!” resolved Latifah.
HELEN MIRREN IN CHRISTIAN LACROIX
When you’ve got 30-year-old male friends texting you during arrivals to ask if you’ll give Mirren their digits, this shimmering gold-leaf dress and its plunging V-neck are doing their job.
RACHEL WEISZ IN VERA WANG
Take your finger. Place it horizontally in front of your eyes. Position it to block that bizarre vintage Cartier diamond pendant necklace. Now: Isn’t Ms. Weisz elegant, draped in platinum satin?
RINKO KIKUCHI IN CHANEL COUTURE
This classy sheath ”just fit my feeling today,” the Babel nominee said through a translator. And we vastly prefer that feeling to whatever resulted in her wearing a collection of Chanel bath loofahs to the Golden Globes.
CAMERON DIAZ IN VALENTINO COUTURE
Pick a metaphor: Dinner napkin? Origami swan? Paper cone full of pommes frites? Whatever you see in the blank palette of Diaz’s dress, it’s certainly more interesting than trying to figure out whether her tan is real.
MERYL STREEP IN PRADA, OF COURSE
”Since she’s nominated for [The Devil Wears Prada], I feel like she has a responsibility to blow it out of the solar system,” said Project Runway guru Tim Gunn before the show. Alas, only her hippie-art-teacher necklace seemed alien.
ANNE HATHAWAY IN VALENTINO
Having learned nothing from being in that movie where a frumpy girl gets glam, Hathaway drowned in two ginormous flat bows, and the white lace did her porcelain complexion no favors.
JENNIFER HUDSON IN OSCAR DE LA RENTA
Technically, the Best Supporting Actress winner was sporting a ”metallic python bolero.” But no matter what fancy fashion terms you throw at that silver shoulder shrug, it still won’t make it okay.
BEYONCÉ KNOWLES IN ARMANI PRIVÉ
Having lost the Seafoam Cage Match to Kate Winslet, poor washed-out Beyoncé could only wonder what to do with her beaded shoulder strap after the show. Perhaps add it to a macramé plant holder!
NICOLE KIDMAN IN BALENCIAGA
What works in person doesn’t always translate on TV: While the arrivals line swooned at Kidman’s regal red, home viewers worried that the huge bow, reminiscent of Charlize Theron’s shoulder monster last year, might attack Abigail Breslin.
GWYNETH PALTROW IN ZAC POSEN
Beneath the perfect hair and makeup, Gwynnie’s apricot cap-sleeve number was this year’s most modern statement. But there’s a fine line between ”modern”and ”yeesh,” and that peekaboo bodice may have just hopped it.