The Academy Awards always give us a night to remember, whether it's with upsets or underdog stories, tearful speeches or emotional performances. Celebrating some of the greatest films the entertainment world gives us each year is a wonderfully messy blast, and even though it doesn't always turn out the way we want (sorry to all our losing brackets out there), we can all agree that some of the biggest winners don't come with a golden statue. They come strutting down the red carpet.
Though in recent years we've been making a plea for red carpet reporters to ask some questions with more depth, we have to admit — we love an Oscar look, and sometimes we're dying to know more. The couture gowns, the silky pantsuits, the never-ending tulle and the slightest accessories that can spice up a tuxedo give the fashion industry a chance to go all out, and we're not mad about. So while those reporters ask the questions these hardworking actors, actresses and other industry members deserve to be asked, we're happy to admire the clothing along with their achievements from afar. Check out some of favorite looks from over the years, and a few that should maybe stay on their hangers in the back of the closet for eternity.
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The 2019 Academy Awards brought us a lot of questions. Would the winner of Best Picture actually deserve it? Would we have to be mad about Bohemian Rhapsody for winning more than it deserved on Monday? Would Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper finally publicly profess their love for each other? There were a lot of unknowns heading into the night, but one question was immediately answered as the red carpet was rolled out. No one, not a single person, would be upstaging Billy Porter. Already known for his fashion triumphs, the performer took Oscar fashion to the next level in a Christian Siriano velvet look. A suit from the waist up and an elegant gown the rest of the way down, the Pose star told Vogue he was looking to “challenge expectations” as well as gender norms in fashion. He did just that and more. If there was a Rotten Tomatoes score for this look, we’d give it 100%.
One of the most iconic looks of all time, one that inspired many a Twitter parody account, is of course Angelina Jolie's leg-highlighting black Atelier Versace gown. Angelina has always been known to serve looks, but she truly outdid herself in at this ceremony. The Mr. & Mrs. Smith star wasn't nominated in 2012, but we'd be happy to give her dress some hardware for its efforts anyways. We love a high-slit dress, but you've got to have the attitude to stick your leg right out there like this fearless actress to really own the look. I think everyone at the awards can agree that she did.
In 2014, Lupita Nyong'o won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave. It was an expected and deserving win, and the movie ended up taking home the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay awards as well, thanks in part to her performance, which was based on a real person. Of course, someone with those kind of acting chops and talent is going to show up on the red carpet aiming to stun, and that's exactly what she did. The award winner glowed in a flowing light blue Prada gown. She rocked the plunging neckline elegantly, and her minimalistic accessories added gracefully to the look. She was certainly deserving of her statue, and we're ready to give her best dressed for 2014, too.
We've seen Cate Blanchett embody grace and ferocity in a number of films, especially as majestic elven royalty Lady Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it's no surprise she should bring the same elegance and power to the real world, and to the Oscars. Her 2016 Armani Prive gown, a beautiful blue flowered dress, had just enough detail to stand out but to not take away from the actress underneath it. Although she didn't win the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in Carol that year (she lost to Brie Larson), we're giving her the gold for this iconic fashion moment.
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I'm not sure anyone could deny the inevitability of Hilary Swank winning the 2005 Best Actress Oscar for her role in Million Dollar Baby. Her role as waitress turned boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald, opposite her gruff but sentimental coach, Clint Eastwood, broke hearts and inspired growth and redemption in audiences everywhere. The statue was claimed before the nominations we're even announced. But did we know she was going to show up and blow our minds on the red carpet in a backless navy blue Guy Laroche? Also, yes. The boxing queen dazzled at the show and in this film, both of which probably brought viewers to tears (and we're okay with it).
Halle Berry has had her fair share of interesting Academy Award moments, but surely none compare to her Best Actress win for Monster Ball in 2002, a much better prize than a surprise nationally televised kiss from Adrien Brody. And if you have to go up on stage and give a speech, you better look the part, which is something that’s obviously not hard for the Oscar winner. Stunning in a partially see-through burgundy flower-covered Elie Saab, the Gothika and Catwoman actress worked her way from the red carpet to the stage to earn her hardware. I think we can all agree, nothing matches burgundy like a little touch of gold.
Spicing up a suit isn’t easy. Sometimes adding color or accessories can be too much and can distract from the look. Going too simple can be boring. It’s a tough task to rock or find the perfect outfit for the red carpet. Chadwick Boseman had no trouble doing this, of course. The Black Panther star donned an embroidered knee-length suit coat that was just the right amount of classy, but exciting. His simple shirt and shoes were a perfect touch. It’s clear to see why he was cast as the elegant and wise king of Wakanda, but if it were put to a vote, he’d definitely still have ours.
Jennifer Lawrence’s award-winning performance in Silver Linings Playbook as slightly unhinged widow and dancer Tiffany Maxwell wasn’t the only amazing thing to come from the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony. Along with her topsy-turvy trip to the stage (oops) and her wonderfully classic J-Law speech, the Hunger Games star made headlines for her beautifully voluminous Dior Couture gown. The pale, strapless dress was delicately complimented by a dainty diamond necklace and simple updo. A change from some of her more dark and daring looks, her outfit was picture perfect for receiving her first Oscar.
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Nicole Kidman wasn’t personally nominated for anything at the 79th Academy Awards in 2007, but we’re wondering why she wasn’t presented an award for the stunning red Balenciaga gown she donned for the occasion. From the red carpet to the stage where she presented the Oscar for Art Direction to Pan’s Labyrinth with Daniel Craig, the dress stole the show. Featuring a bow cascading from neck to floor, the dress was begging to be walked around in for eternity. We only wish outfit repeats were allowed. But then again, we’d have to pick just one of the many looks the Moulin Rouge! star has worn over the years. Many of the them grace the favorites list, which is no surprise for the classy actress.
In 2003, Kate Hudson attended the 75th Academy Awards to present highlights from the Scientific and Technical Awards. We would’ve preferred highlights of how her Versace gown was made instead. The pale, beaded dress had the How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days star glowing from head to toe and had us distracted for the entire highlight reel. This isn’t the first time the one-time Oscar nominee, nominated for cult-classic film Almost Famous, has dominated the red carpet or the after parties, and we’re willing to watch more ceremonies if it means we get to see her serve more looks.
Dave Bedrosian/Future Image/WENN.com
Riz Ahmed and his incredible outfit were a welcome sight at the 2017 Academy Awards. His blue Ermenegildo Zegna tuxedo was a stand-out look for the 89th Oscar ceremony among the sea of traditional black and white suits. The Night Of star presented the award for Visual Effects to The Jungle Book with Felicity Jones. We were wishing we could find a reason to give him more stage time, but we'll settle for one presentation over none. Here's hoping they hire him on as a host one year (if we ever get one again), so we can get the multiple outfits changes we deserve.
Six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams didn’t take home any gold in 2013 for her performance in The Master. We have to say, we’re kind of a bummed that the American Hustle star hasn’t had her moment in the Oscar spotlight formally yet, but she certainly made a name for herself on the red carpet that year in her gorgeous Oscar de la Renta ruffled vision. The actress took inspiration from vintage photographs that she sent to the famed designer, and thank goodness for that. Maybe she should consider a foray into the fashion world herself because we’re not sure we’ll ever forget this graceful look, and we don’t want to.
Although it would be two more years before Penelope Cruz won the Academy Award for her performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the 2007 Best Actress nominee, nominated for her work in Volver, was out winning the admiration of everyone on the red carpet. Her blush feather Versace gown glided through the crowds with ease and made her the star of the pre-show. Her 2009 dress was a beautiful number as well, but we’ll always love looking back to this year as a reminder of what to wear to the Oscars.
Marion Cotillard won the the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2008 for her role in La Vie en Rose, the musical biopic based on the life of French singer, Edith Piaf. Much like in her film performance, the Dark Knight Rises star blew us away with her intricate white Jean Paul Gaultier gown that she picked from the collection herself. The mermaid-esque dress was a beautiful, sparking addition to the red carpet and glowed as much as her statue as she graciously took the stage. We would be totally cool if the Inception actress admitted to being a sea siren just so we could find reason for her to live in this dress.
Chris Hemsworth is certainly someone known for his dashing good looks. Whether he's rocking the beautiful golden flow and armor of the gods or dressing casual to play with his adorable kids, he pretty much always looks perfect. How? We're guessing magic. And we'd love to know whatever spell or potion he used at the 2014 Academy Awards because he looked phenomenal. Only the Avengers star could take a maroon jacket that would have serious bellhop vibes on anyone else and make it red carpet ready. Dashing and debonair as usual. Tell us your secrets, Chris!
No one can deny the power of Counting Crows hit "Accidentally In Love." It's a Shrek soundtrack classic that makes us feel like frolicking through flowers and daydreaming on the local park swing set. We wish we could say the same for band frontman Adam Duritz's 2005 Academy Award look. The colors, the patterns, the sunglasses. All of it is overwhelming and confusing. We have to wonder how and why his stylist let him hit the biggest event of the year looking like this, but then we also have to wonder if he has a stylist in the first place. Fingers crossed that he's found a better one (or one in general) since then.
Uma Thurman is iconic. The name, the yellow tracksuit, the Pulp Fiction dance sequence. She's a force to be reckoned with, which is probably why Fall Out Boy even named a song after her. Her 2004 Oscar look? Not so much. The puzzling Christian Lacroix look was a huge distraction to viewers watching the Kill Bill actress present the award for Cinematography. A muddled mix of fabric, the star looked like she went full Scarlett O'Hara and used her curtains and table clothes to make the dress herself last minute. Definitely not our favorite look for one of our favorite people.
By 2017, it had been 11 years since Terrence Howard had been nominated for an Oscar. His work in Hustle & Flow garnered him a Best Actor nomination in 2006, and it seems like since then he may have forgotten what the red carpet is all about. The Empire star rolled up to the ceremony looking a little less like an Academy Award nominee and a lot more like Hugh Hefner, donning a blue patterned robe-style coat. Here's hoping that his TV partner in crime, Taraji P. Henson, has turned him in the right direction since then.
We love Cameron Diaz. She's a strong, confident actress who has been teaching us how to be comfortable with ourselves, take it easy and own up to our stuff one rom-com at a time for years. However, we do not love her Emmanuel Ungaro look for the 2002 Academy Awards, which took it a little too easy. More apt for a day in an overpriced resort cabana than the the biggest award show of the season, the Charlie's Angels actress looked a little bit less put together next to her fellow movie stars. We would've much preferred her party dress from What Happens In Vegas even if it doesn't actually come with a big check and Ashton Kutcher on the side.
It was a given that Kacey Musgraves would be making headlines during the 2019 award season after the triumph of her album Golden Hour. She dazzled at the Grammys, where she donned a sweet pale tulle dress and took home awards for Best Album, Best Country Album, Best Country Song ("Space Cowboy") and Best Country Solo Performance ("Butterflies"). We're not sure what happened in the few weeks between ceremonies, but it seems the tulle went wild and the singer showed up in head-to-toe pink fluff for the Academy Awards. The Giambattista Valli gown isn't the worst of them, but we'll be just fine going forward without it.