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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira:

February 18, 2009 at 5:13 PM

The nominees’ Oscar history . . . in gowns

OK, we’re going to talk about Oscar gowns now, and those of you who aren’t interested can just keep on thinking about “The Godfather” or something. Are we alone now? Good. Because I thought it might be fun to do a brief review of the actress nominees’ red-carpet history, gown-wise, to give us an idea of what we might expect this year.
Not this, let’s hope:

Anne Hathway, nominated for best actress for “Rachel Getting Married,” didn’t do herself any favors in 2007 with that white lace gown accessorized with scary black bows that look like they’re attacking her. (Other nominees have gone down the scary-bow path in the past, with grim results: Penelope Cruz, I’m looking at you.) But Anne did much better last year, in a tomato-hued Marchesa gown that matched the red carpet nicely:

Angelina Jolie, nominated for “Changeling,” is in a class by herself, always seeming to wear something that nobody else could pull off. I love not only this white gown from 2004 on her — which on anybody else would look like a nightgown — but also the “GREETINGS, EARTHLINGS!” expression that she’s wearing with it. Seriously, how gorgeous is she?

Making our way through the best actress category, let’s give Melissa Leo a pass, as she hasn’t been to the Oscars before. Meryl Streep (“Doubt”), on the other hand, has a closetful of Oscar outfits, many of which date from the days when actresses didn’t use stylists. It’s fun to watch her when she dresses wacky (like her bizarro multi-necklaced outfit from the “Devil Wears Prada” year), and even more fun when she does flat-out glamour. This purple number from 2006 is smashing, and Streep knows it; look at what a good time she’s having in it:

Kate Winslet (“The Reader”), also a frequent nominee, has mastered the simple-dress-in-a-pretty-color strategy and always looks beautifully turned out. Here, in 2005, she’s stunning in cornflower blue. (By the way, I think that’s Maggie Gyllenhaal behind her.)

Moving to the supporting actress category, here’s Amy Adams (“Doubt”) last year, in a very structured gown in a shade of forest-green that’s perfect on her. But I do have to wonder about the obviously empty purse. Don’t even Academy Award nominees need to carry a lipstick and breath mints? Presumably she has people to shlep such things for her. Pretty purse, though.

Out of respect to Penelope Cruz, because she’s so adorable in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” let’s not mention the year she wore an enormous yellow bow on her derriere. Instead, consider this wonderfully fluffy gown from 2007. This is, shall we say, a lot of dress (I’d hate to see what that train looked like after a night of being stepped on), but it’s classic Oscar fantasy fashion.

Viola Davis (“Doubt”) hasn’t been to the Oscars before, and Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button”) has attended only as a performer (yes, that was she singing “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” in 2006). But Marisa Tomei (“The Wrestler”), who won this category 15 years ago for “My Cousin Vinny,” is an Oscar regular. Here she is, looking adorable if excessively accessorized in 2002:

Let’s hope we all have as much fun as Marisa on Oscar night. I’ll be at the office, wearing my great-aunt’s rhinestones and something vaguely formal. (Alas, no designers sent gowns this year. Or any year.) Join me for some red-carpet chat on Sunday at 4:30. We’ll talk.
(Photos courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.)



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