And the Award Goes to… See All the Style Highs and Lows from the 78th Annual Academy Awards

For several years now, the Oscars have offered up the same dreary formula: Witness a brilliant comedian morph into a bumbling amateur (the latest victim, Jon Stewart), wade through scores of long-winded acceptance speeches, and watch every movie you knew would win do precisely that. But just when it looked like the 78th Annual Academy Awards were shaping up to be yet another night of lackluster broadcasting, Crash snagged the Best Picture statuette, and our faith in the unknown was restored. Was it also a night of shockers on the fashion front?

Well, not exactly. With the stakes this high, today’s starlets are far more likely to commit minor fashion faux-pas than sartorial crimes a la Bjork, Cher, or Lara Flynn Boyle (which is, let’s face it, why we watch the show anyway). Even so, as the Beauty Addict Red Carpet review [http://beautyaddictmag.com/thescoop/redcarpetwatch/redcarpetindex.html] reports, there were some superb and unexpected showings…and yes, a few stupefying moments, as well.

The Winners

After black and white stole the show at several awards shows, a handful of more unlikely hues made their mark at the Oscars. Keira Knightly bested the field in an asymmetrical eggplant taffeta gown by Vera Wang with dramatic trumpet skirt and vintage Bulgari necklace. Also outfitted by Vera Wang, Michelle Williams dazzled in a frothy marigold tulle dress with floor-sweeping train and Harry Winston jewels. Amy Adams made a chic statement in a chocolate Carolina Herrera taffeta frock with ribbon accents, corset bodice, and oversize aquamarine earrings (the baubles borrowed from Herrera’s personal collection). Similarly stunning were Jennifer Lopez in a vintage olive green ruched dress from Rita Watnick at Lily et Cie and Bahar Soomekh in a lemon chiffon gown by Calvin Klein. Salma Hayek and Jada Pinkett Smith both glowed in formfitting teal Versace and cobalt Roberto Cavalli, respectively. Several celebs opted for gold, the best of which was Jessica Alba’s embroidered lace Versace halter worn sans necklace (a piece many stars eschewed this year in favor of bold earrings). Other elegant golden girls included Carolina Kurkova in a fluttery Empire strapless dress, Jennifer Garner in glittering a Michael Kors number, and Jane Seymour in a glamorous Pamela Rolland fishtail gown.

Not surprisingly, several celebrities also sported basic black, but more often than not, their ensembles looked more somber than stylish. Some of the best colorless ensembles were Rachel Weisz’s figure-flattering silk embroidered Narciso Rodriguez gown and Queen Latifah’s strapless Carmen Marc Valvo, which, once again, left the queen looking more fashionable than most of the size-zero set. Of course, there was also an array of paler gowns, ranging from stark white to creamy metallic. Nicole Kidman looked especially fresh in a sleek embroidered ivory satin dress by Balenciaga (although Kidman also eschewed the necklace, her clutch bag was an accessorial work of art). Naomi Watts’s haute beige Givenchy number was equally lovely, as was Diane Krueger’s white-and-gold Elie Saab strapless gown. While we could’ve done without the breastplate-style bodice relief pattern, Uma Thurman’s cream Versace with plunging neck and cap sleeves still looked stunning nonetheless (although the Swiss Miss Lacroix she wore two years ago made for better TV). And Reese Witherspoon’s beaded vintage Dior gown wasn’t the night’s fashion frontrunner, but it did represent a marked improvement over last month’s Chanel-Gate getup.

The Losers

Unlike the legendary Oscar gowns we love to hate and the cleavage conundrums that ruled the Golden Globes, most of this year’s fashion gaffes didn’t resemble floats in a parade; they simply lulled us to sleep. Several colorless ensembles—Hilary Swank in Versace, Jennifer Aniston in Rochas, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Prada—won’t make it to Mr. Blackwell’s, but we won’t remember them tomorrow. Catherine Keener’s gray Monique Lhuillier, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s charcoal Bottega Veneta, and Sandra Bullock’s navy blue Angel Sanchez also looked a bit flat. After her exquisite appearance in chartreuse last month, we were disappointed to see Ziyi Zhang wearing a strangely scalloped black lace bustier (both ensembles were by Giorgio Armani, who, it seems, got it right the first time). And Felicity Huffman, who we were beginning to think was beyond red-carpet reproach, chose a plunging Zac Posen that left her looking shapeless.

Still, there were far worse transgressions. Lisa Rinna, who apparently didn’t get the memo about last month’s décolletage debacle, opted for a shiny violet dress sans much-needed bra (why, oh, why?). Charlize Theron, who rarely makes a red-carpet misstep, looked somehow matronly (we wondered how that was possible, too, and the coiffure didn’t help) in voluminous dark green Dior with ginormous one-shouldered bow. But the evening’s worst showing hands-down belonged to Helena Bonham Carter, whose ill-fitting knee-length blue satin dress looked as if it were about to swallow the actress whole. The frock, coupled with out-of-control bouffant and white shoes, will at least provide some watercooler fodder for the day after.

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