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Sandra Bullock in Marchesa

OSCARS 2010: The Last Word
A Review of the 82st Annual Academy Awards

- By Diane Clehane

It’s wasn’t Oscar’s worst red carpet, but it was far from its best. I don’t know whether it’s award show fatigue or the stars' fear of winding up on a tabloid’s Worst Dressed list, but the fashion was overall a bit too safe this year. There was no ‘wow’ moment on the red carpet. Yes, for the most part, everyone looked pretty but no one really stood out. There was a lot of red, plenty of pastels and a wave of white. Everything just kind of blended together. Even the misses (Charlize Theron, Sarah Jessica Parker) weren’t so much god awful as they were just disappointing.

My top picks for the evening in no particular order go to Sandra Bullock (in a glittering Marchesa), Penelope Cruz (in Donna Karan), Kate Winslet (in Yves Saint Laurent), Vera Farmiga (who gets points for going for it in a ruffled Marchesa). I was fascinated by Demi Moore’s appearance. While her salmon colored ruffled Versace was beautiful, it’s really Moore’s astonishingly youthful presence that dazzles. I bet she could even resurrect her ill-fated self-designed biker shorts-ball gown Oscar disaster from the early nineties and manage to pull it off somehow. Well, maybe not, but you get the picture.

Perhaps the most important reason it wasn’t the best night for fashion was because you hardly ever heard the name of any designer mentioned on the red carpet. Why the hell don’t these talking heads ask ‘Who are you wearing?” when they full well know that’s the real reason everyone is watching in the first place? I don’t know what the solution is, but there was a time when the actresses – and the interviewers – managed to mention the name of the designers who devote so much time, not to mention money to dress these stars so all the blood, sweat and FedEx bills that go into Oscar season pay off. Not so anymore.

For me, most of the Oscar night drama took place before the awards even started. A little after midnight on Saturday, WABC-TV pulled channel 7 off the air. Since it looked as if neither the executives at Disney nor Cablevision were going to blink in their war of words, I spent most of Sunday scrambling to find a place to watch the show. (Thanks guys) I trekked up to the home of my former boss and good friend Susan Malinowski who served as an able co-critic. Little did I know I’d need the company to assure I didn’t doze off during the leaden paced broadcast. Yes, after a slow start Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did get off some funny stuff, but overall, the end result was still somewhat stilted and strangely flat.

Producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic might have made good to have the broadcast appeal to a younger demo with appearances by a handful of 'tween' idols who adequately delivered their lines but there was something soulless about the whole thing – at least until the grown-ups came out in force in the final half hour of the show.

The oddest thing was the first three hours seems so ponderous and the final half hour, which had some truly great moments, felt rushed. Sandra Bullock cemented her place as one of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses and it was great to see Kathryn Bigelow make history (and beat out her ex-husband James Cameron) with her Best Director win. Turns out it was Ladies Night at the Oscars.

Penelope Cruz in Donna Karan

Kate Winslet in Yves Saint Laurent

Here’s a rundown of the evening’s highs and lows beginning with E!’s preshow until the bitter end:

6:00 pm Ryan Secrest kicks off E! Oscar preshow which begins with an uncharacteristically slick photo montage of past Oscar shows and some ‘important’ sounding music. Things look promising.

6:02 Avatar’s Sam Worthington is the first to arrive on the red carpet. Secrest asks the actor about the brief period he spent living in his car giving Worthington’s date something new to think about for the rest of their walk down the red carpet.

6:03 The elfin Zac Efron talks about his new deal with Warner Bros. The 23 year-old actor, who looks all of 15, earnestly says “this is the most interesting time in my career.”

6:09 Best Supporting actress nominee Anna Kendrick, in an inadvertent homage to her vampire character in Twilight looks positively anemic in a flesh colored gown. (I’m hoping it looked better in person). Secrest, who before things got started swore he’s ask who was wearing what, launches into a discussion about the dress without managing to ask who designed it. For her part, Kendrick reveals her pick was “a last minute decision” because she was “so unhappy” with her planned selection. She won’t name the designer of the reject. Somewhere on Seventh Avenue, someone just got canned.

6:12 Although there appears to be an age limit that taps out at 40 on the red carpet this year, somehow Mickey Rooney slips by security.

7:00 Faith Hill and Tim McGraw arrive. Hill is sporting a god-awful Cavalli dress. Worse, I think I saw the earrings she was wearing on sale at Target.

7:02 There’s a glimpse of Penelope Cruz who, so far, is the only real movie and fashion star on the carpet in her crimson Donna Karan gown.

7:03 Amanda Seyfried (who is clearly taking a page out of the Halle Berry/Penelope Cruz playbook of dressing like a movie star before you become one) waltzes by in Armani Prive. Secrest scores some scoop by getting the actress to talk about Big Love, the show that launched her movie career, when she confirms she’s leaving the HBO hit because she “wasn’t getting enough to do.” Seyfried needs to bone up on her fashion lingo. She tells Secrest her gown is embellished with cellophane.

7:14 Miley Cyrus arrives wearing her underwear – but not in a good way. It appears that her mother, doing her best Donatella Versace impersonation, helped pick out the unfortunate dress.

7:07 Melanie Griffith, who appears to have been recently ‘freshened up’ arrives with the Unabomber. No wait, it’s Antonio Banderas.

7:14 Sarah Jessica Parker, the newly minted head of Halston, with hubby Matthew Broderick shows up in Chanel Haute Couture. Sorry, SJP, I love you but I didn’t love your Glinda the Good Witch dress last year and I don’t like the shower curtain held up with grill work from a Cadillac this year, either.

7:18 Charlize Theron, always a red carpet standout, is posing within an inch of her life in her lavender Dior with unfortunately placed rosettes that do nothing for her.

7:26 George Clooney seems to be making good on his promise to blow off the media by avoiding the reporters and heads over to sign autographs for the fans in the bleachers.

7:28 He changes his mind and crashes Queen Latifah’s interview with Secrest. It appears Clooney isn’t taking things seriously at all this year. Even though he’s sporting a classic tux, the perennially best dressed man just isn't in the game. He seems as if he’s not all that crazy about being there as evidenced by his longer, flat hair (don’t love it) and a somewhat sleepy expression.

7:30 Meryl Streep, accompanied by Kevin Huvane, looks positively luminous. It’s a personal best for her fashion-wise. She’s wisely chosen an elegant white gown by Project Runway favorite Chris March. PR score of the red carpet.

7:33 7:33 I’m wondering if Jennifer Lopez is annoyed that her sculptural Armani dress is a little too close to the dress the house gave Amanda Seyfried to wear. Can u fix?

7:37 A very skinny Keanu Reeves is sporting some bad facial hair. Doesn’t matter. Love him.

7:39 A giddy Gabourey Sidibe inexplicably tells Secrest that if her ill-chosen dress was porn, it would be “the money shot.” Huh?

7:40 Secrest finally asks someone for the name of the designer of their ensemble. Unfortunately, it’s Woody Harrelson.

7:44 Not one actress has named the designer of their dress. Uh-oh.

7:46 Demi Moore sails by looking amazing in a peach Versace. I’ll have what she’s having. Finally, living proof her W magazine cover was not retouched. Her waist is that tiny. And, she has obviously found the fountain of youth because she is literally reverse aging.

7:49 I guess Brangelina isn’t coming this year.

7:51 Last year’s Best Actress winner, Kate Winslet, looks ten year’s younger than she did last year. This time, she’s chosen an Yves Saint Laurent dress that she actually seems comfortable in. Love the Veronica Lake hair and understated jewelry. Love, love, love her.

7:53 Please go away, Miley Cyrus and for God’s sake, stand up straight!

7:54 For the first time ever, Cameron Diaz actually appears to have made a serious effort for the red carpet with her gold Oscar de la Renta gown. And she finally brushed her hair.

7:58 E! is signing off having hosted one of the least glamorous red carpets in recent memory. There are plenty of pretty dresses but where is Nicole, Halle, Renee, Jennifer Aniston and the rest of Hollywood’s real fashionistas? Yawn.

Demi Moore in Versace

Cameron Diaz in Oscar de la Renta

8:00 In their infinite wisdom, ABC has chosen The View’s Sherri Shepherd, Dancing with The Stars castoff Kathy Ireland (Huh?) and journo Jess Cagle as host/interviewers. This ought to be interesting.

8:03 Cagle has all the best supporting actress nominees corralled in one spot but fails to ask anyone the name of the designer of their dresses – a cardinal sin for someone who once worked at People magazine.

8:10 Kathy Ireland does a cringe inducing interview with Gabourey Sidibe. She layers it on even thicker when she names the ‘Precious’ star one of the evening’s best dressed in the preshow’s final moments.

8:23 Sherri Shepherd asks Jeff Bridges, ‘What are you wearing?’ Come on!

8:30 Finally, the broadcast starts. Things look very promising when the stage reveals all the best actor contenders standing together on stage.

8:32 Neil Patrick Harris asks the question everyone in the audience is thinking when he launches into an ill-conceived opening musical number and sings, ‘What am I doing here?’ Okay, so he killed at the Emmys and the Tonys but he’s a TV star. The producer’s bid to hedge their bet here doesn’t work. I miss Hugh Jackman.

8:34 The producers make the unfortunate choice of having Baldwin and Martin descend from the ceiling Las Vegas style. The harness Martin is wearing is plainly visible. My friend Susan asks, “Why do Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin need to be set up by a TV star?” Good question.

8:37 Martin and Baldwin’s opening monologue isn’t killing – yet. Baldwin seems very nervous.

8:43 The show has been on for under 15 minutes but it feels like an hour. The pacing for the opening is definitely off. Cablevision is restored to the 3 million metropolitan area viewers. Gee, thanks.

8:48 Penelope Cruz presents Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz with his Oscar who gives yet another charming speech. Since he’s won everything imaginable this awards season, he’s had a lot of practice. Looks like they’re mixing things up with the order of the awards this year.

8:50 Ryan Reynolds does his best Rod Serling impersonation to introduce the first Best Picture clip from a spot behind the audience. This is done throughout the evening and feels oddly disjointed from the rest of the broadcast. And, did someone forget to pay the electric bill this month? The audience constantly looks as if they are sitting in darkness.

9:00 Amanda Seyfried races Miley Cyrus to the microphone to present their award. Seyfried wins.

9:06 Despite the glitzy stage set and preponderance of prom dresses, there is an absence of glamour that is palpable.

9:15 Journalist Mark Boal wins the first of The Hurt Locker’s many Oscars. Good to see a least one scribe can make a living by telling compelling stories these days.

9:16 A reaction shot of Jane Seymour. Really?

9:17 An absolutely terrified Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick introduce a touching tribute to John Hughes. The segment wraps with several ‘Where are they now?’ actors like Macaulay Culkin and Ali Sheedy that populated Hughes films in the eighties standing on stage reminding the audience of the perils of finding fame too soon. Yikes.

9:28 Carey Mulligan (in Prada) and Zoe Saldana (in Givenchy Haute Couture) do the prom queen thing while introducing Best Documentary Short Subject. Mulligan clearly has the potential to be a huge star of the red carpet – but not tonight. Saldana dress looks as if she’s about to be swept out to a lavender sea.

9:30 One hour down – ten to go. George Clooney isn’t enjoying himself and so far, with the show’s leaden pacing, neither are we.

9:38 Ben Stiller comes out done up like an Avatar character. James Cameron is not amused. Neither is anyone else.

9:40 Discuss amongst yourselves: What is with the god awful camera work this year? Where are the audience reaction shots that everyone loves? Why does the stage look so empty?

9:45 “This is turgid,” says Susan stifling a yawn. Agreed.

9:50 Geoffrey Fletcher, who wins for Best Adapted Screenplay for Precious, gives the evening’s first truly touching speech.

9:52 Okay, this helps to explain the lack of true star power on the broadcast thus far. The Academy introduced the first ever ‘Governor’s Awards’ given before tonight. A clip of the festivities includes appearances by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Angelica Huston. Lauren Bacall, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, picked up her statuette at the non-televised event. As a consolation prize, she is recognized from her seat in the auditorium. A few stars rise to their feet, but before she gets her much deserved standing ovation, the producers move on to the next award. Bad move.

9:59 Robin Williams presents Mo’Nique with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The actress gives a somewhat eyebrow raising acceptance speech by saying her win says contenders can be judged on “performance not politics.” A not so subtle dig at the Academy for the criticism she’s received for opting not to ‘campaign’ for the award and for reports that she asked to be paid for several Oscar season appearances.

Vera Farmiga in Marchesa

Jennifer Lopez in Armani

10:06 I love Sigourney Weaver but her red Lanvin looks a tad too matronly on her.

10:09 The best introduction of the night comes from Steve Martin: “He directed A Single Man. She weighs a single pound – Tom Ford and Sarah Jessica Parker.” The duo presents Best Costume Design to Sandy Powell who picks up her statuette for her work on The Young Victoria. (Where is Emily Blunt, by the way? I guess I don’t blame her for skipping out on things since she was snubbed in the Best Actress category). Powell graciously dedicates her award to her peers who don’t work on period films.

10:17 Twilight costars Kristen Stewart (who also needs to work on her posture) and the adorable Taylor Lautner present a tribute to horror films. The head scratching clip montage include Edwards Scissorhands and the 1993 flick Leprechaun starring Jennifer Aniston (I bet she was thrilled about that).

10:25 “I know we’ve been watching this for two hours but I feel like we haven’t seen any really big awards,” says my friend Susan. Yup.

10:28 A voiceover announces with great fanfare: “Elizabeth ….” Taylor? Nope, Banks. Who? Just kidding. Sort of.

10:37 The absolutely ageless Demi Moore introduces the traditional ‘In Memoriam’ segment with James Taylor on guitar to accompany the clips. Unlike previous years, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the order or list of actors included. I know she wasn’t Oscar material, but it’s more than a bit surprising that Farrah Fawcett, one of the biggest stars in her heyday, was omitted. I’m guessing there were gasps all around at the Vanity Fair party when the segment ended without a nod to Dominick Dunne (who, in case you didn’t know, produced Panic in Needle Park and Boys in the Band) too.

10:46 If only they’d gotten the pros from Dancing With the Stars to do the night’s only production number. I thought ABC was all about corporate synergy.

11:06 Except for the on-going glimpses of a stone-faced George Clooney, why are all the shots of the audience of somebody’s weeping mother or wife? If Kate Gosselin shows up in the audience, I’m throwing my TV set out the window.

11:24 Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. The five best actor candidates are introduced by five equally interesting actors. George Clooney looks genuinely embarrassed by Vera Farmiga’s glowing remarks. Colin Farrell gets the biggest laughs by cryptically referencing some raucous road trip where he and The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner wound up sharing a pillow and ‘spooning’ in bed. Good stuff.

11:30 Jeff Bridges thanks his parents for getting him into this “groovy” profession. Man, does he like the word “man.” I was hoping for a truly great speech from Bridges who had gone unappreciated for so long but instead his good ole boy approach felt a bit flat. At least he wraps up by effusively praising his wife of 33 years, Susan and their two daughters.

11:36 After the five best actress nominees are introduced in the same star studded fashion as the actors were, Sean Penn announces the winner. Sandra Bullock, looking the best she ever has, takes the stage to accept her award. “Did I really win this or did I just wear you down?” she says only half kidding. One of the nicest women in Hollywood delivers the evening’s best speech of the night offering individual heartfelt tributes to her fellow nominees and choking up as she recalls the loving and socially conscious way her mother raised her. She concludes by dedicating her award to “moms who take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from.” I know The Blind Side wasn’t exactly art, but I’m thrilled she won. A lovely, lovely moment.

11:52 Barbra Streisand comes out to present Best Director. “The time has come,” she intones before announcing Kathryn Bigelow as the first woman in the Academy’s 82 year history to win top honors. Would love to know what’s going through Bab’s mind since she was so famously snubbed in 1991 for her work lensing Prince of Tides. Did the orchestra really play 'I am Woman' as they left stage? Yes, they did.

11:54 A genuinely stunned Kathryn Bigelow tells the audience that this is indeed, “the moment of a lifetime.” Bigelow impresses with her genuinely humble and heartfelt remarks which include a tribute to the men and women serving in Iraq.

11:58 Tom Hanks announces The Hurt Locker has won Best Picture so abruptly that even though I haven’t moved from my seat in four hours I feel as if I’ve missed something. Did he even open the envelope? Bigelow hasn’t even made it off the stage when she finds her way back and stands aside holding two Oscars like barbells as one of the film’s producers speaks.

12:04 Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hold on to Kathryn Bigelow while they say goodnight. She looks like she wants to run off the stage. I can’t say I blame her.


- Diane Clehane is Lookonline’s Entertainment Editor. She is the author of several New York Times best sellers and is currently at work on a novel. She writes the popular ‘Lunch’ column for and the Postcards from Mommywood blog for Email her at

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