The big story of the 88th Academy Awards, which took place on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, saw Leonardo DiCaprio finally receive the nod for Best Actor. DiCaprio had previously been nominated for five Academy Awards – Best Actor and Best Picture for The Wolf on Wall Street, on which he also served as co-producer, Best Actor for Blood Diamond, Best Actor for The Aviator, and Best Supporting Actor for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – on each occasion coming away empty handed. But while the core of his fanbase may have morphed from the hundreds who wrote in to protest his absence from the ballot in 1998 following his role in Titanic – sloppy overgrown men taking the place of swooning young women – relentless campaigning courtesy of awards consultants and internet combatants secured him a victory this time round for his role in The Revenant.
The Revenant was directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who for the second year in a row could boast the film with the most nominations. It received twelve in total, and after the overwhelming success of Birdman last year Iñárritu again took home the title of Best Director. But in a surprising close to the Oscars ceremony, The Revenant was trumped by Spotlight for Best Picture, Tom McCarthy’s film given its due for shining the torch on The Boston Globe‘s team of investigative journalists, who uncovered widespread sex abuse among Catholic priests in the Boston area. Mad Max was left to sweep the technical categories, winning awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Brie Larson for Room and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl held off the challenges of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the twin centres of Todd Haynes’ Carol, to take respectively the awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. And in another upset it was Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, rather than the sentimental choice of Sylvester Stallone for Creed, who emerged with the statuette for Best Supporting Actor.
Amy by Asif Kapadia won Best Documentary Feature, and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a film about honour killings in Pakistan, won Best Documentary Short. Set in Auschwitz during World War II, the Hungarian picture Son of Saul by László Nemes won Best Foreign Language Film. Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out, directed by Peter Doctor, won Best Animated Feature. And taking Best Animated Short, Bear Story by Gabriel Osorio Vargas and Pato Escala Pierart became the first ever Chilean film to win an Oscar. Taking for its subject matter a lonely typographer, Stutterer by Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage won Best Live Action Short.
Anohni became only the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar – after Angela Morley, who was nominated in 1975 and again in 1978 in the category of Best Original Song for her work arranging and conducting The Little Prince and The Slipper and the Rose – but ‘Manta Ray’ from Racing Extinction lost out to the altogether anodyne ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ by Sam Smith from Spectre. At the age of eighty-seven, Ennio Morricone became the oldest award winner in Oscars history, taking a long overdue bow for Best Original Score on behalf of The Hateful Eight. And after wins for Gravity and Birdman, for The Revenant Emmanuel Lubezki received an unprecedented third consecutive Academy Award in the category Best Cinematography.
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There were few obvious themes in terms of cut or decoration on this year’s Oscars red carpet, but the women can be loosely cluttered by colour. Cate Blanchett, Best Actress two years ago for Blue Jasmine, led a cortege in green, wearing a mint Armani Privé gown embellished with Swarovski crystals and Tiffany & Co. jewellery. Saoirse Ronan wore a Calvin Klein gown in a deep shade of emerald with swirling sequins. And Rachel McAdams’ emerald gown by August Getty was striking for its simplicity, unadorned beyond a train and a slit which reached to the top of her right thigh. The appearance of all three women was exquisite.
Last year’s Best Actress winner Julianne Moore looked daringly elegant in a black gown by Chanel, whose floral lace pattern was complemented by glimmering diamond hoop earrings and a leafy cuff bracelet. Jennifer Lawrence, a brand ambassador for Dior, was especially alluring in sheer Dior haute couture, with tulle and feathers in layers down the skirt and a slender Chopard necklace. Jennifer Garner wore a black gown by Versace with sweeping ruffles, Kate Winslet was tightly wrapped in black silk lamé by Ralph Lauren, and Whoopi Goldberg went retro with a gown in black satin made to resemble that worn by Bette Davis in the 1950 film All About Eve.
In white, Rooney Mara was a splendid porcelain brought stirringly to life by virtue of a red lip, her Givenchy couture lace gown showing a triangle of torso and a glimpse of thigh courtesy of a slit up the middle. Priyanka Chopra was another who looked lovely in floral lace, her white gown by Zuhair Murad finished with a belt in silver. Olivia Wilde was positively Grecian in pleated ivory Valentino couture with an open chest and a glittering choker. But Lady Gaga, an importunate fixture on awards ceremony performance schedules, typically overplayed her hand with a sprawling jumpsuit by Brandon Maxwell.
Best Actress Brie Larson looked gracefully composed on the red carpet ahead of her big night in a blue Gucci gown with pearl-encrusted belt. Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander’s custom Louis Vuitton in pale yellow, with a bunched, asymmetric hemline and metallic embroidery which resembled scattered wheat, could have been cloying but it complemented her skin tone and came off as breezily pretty. Playing the blues alongside Larson, Sofia Vergara looked voluptuous in navy Marchesa, Naomi Watts sparkled in Versace alongside the typically well attired Liev Schreiber, and Patricia Arquette showed off her figure wearing Marina Rinaldi.
In January Charlotte Rampling garnered controversy for her claim that the entirely warranted row over the lack of diversity at this year’s Oscars was ‘racist to white people’. After seeking to clarify her comments, the British actress made an appearance on Sunday in an Armani Privé gown with carmine detailing which certainly showed her in a better light, and was one of the evening’s standout fashion choices. Reese Witherspoon in recent years has tended towards designs which have accentuated her curves, this time taking another direction but looking equally fabulous in a strapless purple gown with ruffles about the bosom. Tina Fey also looked luscious in purple, in an Atelier Versace gown with matching necklace.
Fey’s comic counterpart Amy Poehler was a picture of casual elegance in a patterned, draping gown by Andrew Gn, embroidered with multicoloured butterflies and flowers. Margot Robbie shone in scaly, figure-hugging, gold Tom Ford. Emily Blunt opted for bejewelled Prada, Sophie Turner wore an ethically made gown by Galvan, Daisy Ridley traversed the carpet in embellished Chanel couture with Jimmy Choo sandals, and the ever stunning Kerry Washington seemed ready for combat wearing Atelier Versace with a black leather bodice.
Charlize Theron was a dramatic presence wearing a flowing red gown by Dior, its plunging neckline allowing diamonds by Harry Winston to hang about her navel. But otherwise red gowns were hard to find ahead of the Oscars ceremony, Jessica Joffe’s attractive, unfurling crimson dress with black organisms one of the highlights of the annual after-party put on by Vanity Fair. Likewise Olivia Munn’s one-shouldered gown by Stella McCartney offered a rare glimpse of orange on the red carpet, equalled only at the after-party by the long-sleeved gown of American designer Tory Burch. Munn matched her gown with a similar shade of lipstick, while Burch’s design featured a mosaic of jewels around the shoulders and neck.
Theron’s red dress did preface one of the trends of the Vanity Fair after-party, which saw plenty of low cuts. Taylor Swift in sleek black Alexandre Vauthier, Emilia Clarke in a dotted white dress with black bow by Miu Miu, Kerry Washington wearing a Versace gown with lemon detailing, and Serena Williams in a bridal-inspired gown which bore an abundance of lace, all emphasised their toned upper bodies. Amy Adams looked statuesque in a white and gold Versace gown. And while they took up varying lengths of fabric, Thandy Newton and Emily Ratajkowski both went for black dresses with sheer skirts. Also opting for a sheer look was Diane Kruger, who took a risk that came off wearing a beautiful, bejewelled burgundy dress with three fringes by Reem Acra.
Brie Larson changed for the after-party into a coral-coloured velvet gown by Monse, and Alicia Vikander into sequinned Louis Vuitton. More covered up but just as captivating, Elizabeth Banks and Kate Bosworth both wore Ralph & Russo, Banks in a caped jumpsuit with a bodice of guipure lace, Bosworth in a lavender blue gown with ruffled neckline.
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On the men’s side, Leonardo DiCaprio looked well enough wearing an everyday Armani tuxedo, although the fit across the shoulders suggested that his jacket was perhaps a touch too big. Sam Smith was nicely proportioned in what amounted to a three-piece Dunhill tux, his trousers barely shivering atop patent leather shoes. But Eddie Redmayne quickly quashed the notion that the Brits possess any exceptional taste in menswear, appearing characteristically enfeebled in Alexander McQueen, with a clash between his velvet jacket and favourite skull-featured slippers. Fourteen-year-old Abraham Attah, star of the snidely overlooked Beasts of No Nation, did the velvet slipper look best, beneath a well-fitting tuxedo by Dolce & Gabbana.
The Weeknd’s jacket looked at least a size too large for his frame, but the silhouette worked, making sense of his outsized hairdo. Matt and Luciana Damon, probably the best dressed couple of the evening, looked impeccable in Versace. Benicio del Toro appeared lithely elegant, but there was some pulling of the fabric around his sides, not helped by his unwillingness to leave his second jacket button undone. And Dev Patel wore a becoming shade of midnight blue, but his jacket also seemed tight.
Of the cluster who wore pocket handkerchiefs, Jason Segal was most handsomely dressed, with notch lapels, a bow tie, and a brilliant shine to his patent leather. Sacha Baron Cohen’s shawl collar and slantwise square suited his leaner frame, although his scrawny legs and scruffier shoes slightly spoiled the overall effect, as Isla Fisher looked lovely in white Marchesa, with embroidered flowers and a silver belt. By contrast Henry Cavill was pristine in a velvet jacket and calfskin oxfords, but is so muscular in the upper body that he comes off top heavy in a suit.
Bryan Cranston was another who made the most of notch lapels. Mark Rylance – with a shawl collar, five-button trimmed waistcoat, and brown felt hat – Mark Ruffalo, and Sylvester Stallone all wore tuxedos in shades of midnight blue. While Ruffalo paired his vibrant blue jacket with black trousers, Stallone was all blue on top but opted for a black shirt, and the contrast worked. On the other hand the fit of Christian Bale’s clothes was fair enough, but his all-black ensemble with a high waistcoat, black shirt, and loosely cinched four-in-hand black necktie offered viewers little in the way of light relief.
Pharrell Williams’ outfit was full of idiosyncrasies, from the choice of loafers to the link fastening of his shawl collar jacket, but most noticeable were his rolled-up tuxedo trousers. It might have been unorthodox, but there was a nice flow to his fit, even if it jarred ever so slightly with the more conservatively elegant, floor-length gown of his partner Helen Lasichanh. Jared Leto was the other real outlier on the night, wearing slippers with a silver snake design, a tuxedo with electric red trimming, and a flower instead of conventional neckwear, which for all its flair still produced a buttoned-up look.
Like last year, Michael Keaton was well fitted, showing shirt studs and velvet slippers, and rocking a pair of sunglasses. The trick was mirrored by Tom Hardy, although with his open peaked-lapel jacket, waistcoat, and watch chain he looked a little clunky, the watch chain always a cumbersome, countrified look. There was something off too in the details of Michael Fassbender’s Tom Ford tuxedo, which appeared a touch short in the sleeves, with a high buttoning point given the length of the rest of the jacket, and his trousers were pooled about his ankles. Finally Michael Sheen’s tux was fairly boxy, but Sarah Silverman wearing custom Zac Posen gave the couple an air of old-school glamour.