Oscar Fashion Report Card
The Cotillard effect, the bead brigade, and the best dress you didn't see on television.
Posted Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, at 4:32 AM
Julia: That was a fantastic dress. Leslie Mann should have presented. Or tap-danced! We need to see more of that thing. She should wear it in Judd Apatow's next movie. Or just gardening.
Amanda: Out grocery shopping at Ralph's.
Julia: Another dress I loved: The red charmeuse worn by Megan Mylan, who won for best documentary short. I love it when the laypeople outdress the starlets.
Amanda: That was a good one.
Julia: Mylan's dress was beautiful, flattering, telegenic, and interesting, with those strange winglets on the back and the Champagne-colored lining they revealed.
Amanda: I wished the winglets had been a bit snugger, but that's my only complaint. One thing I liked about this year, at least from a fashion perspective, was the game-show-like array of actors and actresses who came up to present. It made it easy to get a full-length view of many more dresses.
Julia: And we got to see more actresses of different ages.
Amanda: Precisely. There were some eccentric choices up there. Like Shirley MacLaine's black tux.
Julia: I loved that!
Amanda: I imagine those diamonds she was wearing were imbued with some talismanic powers.
Julia: The power to make Anne Hathaway weepy, at least.
Amanda: And Angelica Huston's maroon spandex with silver spangles. I was reminded of the costumes I used to wear for dance recitals in the '80s. And yet, I liked it. It was original.
Julia: She always looks fantastic. I wouldn't give this outfit particularly high marks.
Amanda: No, but it was amusing. And that's worth something. The boring bar is so low that it's become easy to impress me. Just be different. Try something new.
Julia: I know. It's bleak.
Amanda: An Old Hollywood Glamour wasteland.
Julia: Any wishes for next year?
Amanda: I hope we see more in the way of sartorial daring. And that the actresses who are willing to be a bit out there—and risk being flayed by the press—come back. Where were they all? Where was Cate Blanchett?
Julia: Or Gwyneth Paltrow or Cameron Diaz?
Amanda: Or Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kirsten Dunst?
Julia: All right, so let's hope for big years for all of them. And let's hope Leslie Mann delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, gets nominated, and then wears that dress again!
Amanda Fortini is a Slate contributor.
Photographs of: Penelope Cruz by Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Miley Cyrus, Freida Pinto, and Marisa Tomei by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Angelina Jolie by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images; Leslie Mann by Michael Buckner/Getty Images; Mickey Rourke by Michael Buckner/Getty Images; and Tilda Swinton by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images. Photographs on Slate's home page: Kate Winslet by Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images; Penelope Cruz by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images; and Tilda Swinton by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.