The best and worst Oscar dresses.

The language of style.
March 8 2010 7:31 AM

Oscar Fashion Report Card

Zoe Saldana's "ornamental kale," George Clooney's shaggy new look, and why we missed Tilda Swinton.

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J.G.: The pattern reminded me of Monet's water lilies.

H.R.: I hated Maggie G. The Dries Van Noten fabric was no doubt beautiful but it looked like tie-dye from a distance. And that pink lipstick! It did have youthfulness going for it but only worked really close up.

J.T.: There was a microtrend of patterned dresses tonight—and I loved them! Maggie Gyllenhaal's blue column was gorgeous—I wish we'd gotten a better look—and perhaps my favorite look of the night was Rachel McAdams' gray, green, and gold patterned number. Her dress had a sweeping skirt too, but it looked floaty and walkable, rather than rigid and frumpy. I also loved the dress worn by Sandy Powell, the costume designer who won for Young Victoria. Patterns are unexpected on Oscar night and therefore awesome.

Meryl Streep. Click image to expand.
Meryl Streep

H.R.: Since we've dissected the youth, can we talk about the older ladies? While it was lovely to have such a fine showing—Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, Kathryn Bigelow, Helen Mirren—I really did not love their matronly looks. Weaver's red one strap look (and, yes, I hate the one strap. Curse you, Michelle Obama!) made her look as if she had a single gigantic breast. Streep looked boring and matronly. And Bigelow, who is normally gorgeous, was wearing an especially unflattering gray number. I was hoping for one the over-57s to rock a great look.

S.D.: What was the enormous rhinestone creature parked on Sigourney's shoulder? I love her in her signature red, but this one was entirely too togalike for a foxy woman like her.

J.T.: Hanna, the worst thing about Kathryn Bigelow's dress was the appliqué hearts all over the bodice. What an odd choice!

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But I must defend Meryl's dress. I loved the soft, dramatic architecture of the neckline (the skirt, a bit less). I'm with you on Sigourney's woeful uniboob. I also suspect I would have liked Lauren Bacall's trim suit if they'd let the poor woman up onstage.

H.R.: Yes, Meryl looked nice from the waist up. Maybe there's some lesson in here for Oscars dressing. Like Alicia Silverstone's character does in Clueless—you have to take pics of yourself from all angles—close up, far away, waist up, full body—and then choose your dress.

S.D.: Back to Maggie Gyllenhaal: There was a lot of bad pink lipstick tonight. I really liked Sandra Bullock's champagne lace and panne velvet number—not in any intellectual way, just in a sleek Jean Harlow Hollywood way. But the lipstick was so hard and so distracting. Great makeup on Zoe Saldana, who probably doesn't need it, and on Monique.

I felt there was a very dishwater color story out there, beside the blue tones: McAdams, Seyfried, and poor Anna Kendrick, who was wearing pink that felt like gray.

Sandra Bullock. Click image to expand.
Sandra Bullock

J.T.: I loved Sandra's dress. And her lips. The shape was elegant, the pattern intricate, the asymmetry inoffensive. She looked great even though the mesh in back was frighteningly reminiscent of figure-skating costumes. The vibe was retro, as you note, Sara, but somehow not in the cookie-cutter "old Hollywood glamour" way we've become so accustomed to. I thought she couldn't have looked better.

S.D.: I think I would have loved McAdams even more if she had added a touch of color in her makeup or jewels.Why doesn't anyone wear necklaces anymore?

H.R.: That's an interesting question, Sara. In years past I recall the loan from Harry Winston being a mark of importance. Maybe such a thing is embarrassing these days. Washed out is the visual mark of frugality. But then again, there were Carey Mulligan's chandelier earrings, to go with her cute pixie cut.

J.G.: The best bling of the night award goes to Mariah Carey, in my book. She had enormous diamond hoop earrings. Her dress was a rather sedate deep purple, which isn't Mariah's usual MO. But her true spirit came out with those hoops.

H.R.: The fashion blogs were sort of rough on Mariah for her bling, especially her brooch. But I'm with you Jess, mostly because she was so damned good—so surprisingly damned good—as the social worker in Precious. And since she got no official recognition tonight, she might as well flaunt it any way she can.

J.T.: When will these women learn not to wear beige? What strange beige-pink demon has Hollywood in its thrall? Perhaps the actresses who wear them feel they're making a subtle choice, but it always looks mummy-esque. My vote for worst dress of the night: Demi Moore. The bandages were so shiny! The ruffles so frantic, ratty, and crenellated!