The Good Eye: Oscar Beige
One should never look to Oscar fashion for thrills, but in a six-hour stretch of programming where the biggest controversy was a woman tripping for the second time ever, there wasn't much else to talk about. Even the best fashion was rather tame: Jennifer Lawrence held it together in crisp red Dior and frosty blond that brought to mind a latter-day Princess Di; Emma Watson continued to channel a 40-year-old French woman in Vera Wang; and without HD, you could have mistaken Lady Gaga for Scarlett Johansson. (ScarJo herself was not present, fueling rumors that she was in fact replaced by an OS shortly after The Nanny Diaries.) Even the uncontested ruler of the red carpet, Lupita Nyong'o, pwned in a petal-blue Prada that would have sent me to sleep if Gwyneth had worn it. Cate Blanchett's beige Armani looked like it was crying sparkly tears of boredom all over itself.
I don't mean to make an example of Cate, even though her gown looked like something Angelina Jolie molted before breakfast. But can we talk about "nude"? First of all, it's very revealing that we still insist on calling it that, when Lupita and Viola Davis and Kerry Washington (gorgeously, pregnantly purple in draped Jason Wu) were all killing it. If Crayola can figure out skin-tone diversity, why can't the fashion industry? Put another way, if Lupita had worn the Armani, would it still be "nude"? If it's so important to invoke the almighty power of a white lady's skin, I suggest we begin naming the pastier shades "naked Nicole," "unzipped Uma," and "bare-ass Betty White." Until then, let's just call a beige a beige.
In the absence of reliably non-beige-wearing couture weirdo Tilda Swinton, Whoopi Goldberg struck a blow for diversity in the world of fashion cray. I'd like to believe Whoopi drove up to the red carpet in a perfectly reasonable strapless black column dress, took one look at Sandra Bullock's navy snoozefest, and said to her driver, "Excuse me, we have to make a quick stop by every costume storage hangar in Hollywood." The battle for dominance happening between Whoopi's pirate shirt, flapper pearls, and stripper-Dorothy heels inspired me far more than any movie that has ever been made about baseball. Whoopi, did you ever know that you're my hero?
If the "hero" montages throughout the night were a bit disappointing, especially for those underrepresented in them, during the commercial breaks, JC Penney was spreading a radically empowering message just for women: You can be pretty even if you have bangs and read aesthetics textbooks, as long as you wink and twirl a lot, and don't forget that it's your "job" to dress your man! (That place you go every day and stare at a computer screen? That's more of a hobby.) But by far the most disturbing commercial of the night (that I care about – sorry, Cadillac-owning Howard Roark) featured the Oreo stalker, who wondered, while loopy script unfurled adorably across the screen, whether she could have busted up some random guy's relationship if she had tried a little harder. Yeah, that's right, ladies. Go on, give that guy in your office – whoops! hobby-place – a cookie, and then follow up with a long, passionate email. Better yet, a handwritten note with ukuleles doodled in the margins. Guys like it!
Speaking of hopeless high school crushes, let's talk Leto. Angela Chase memorably said of Jordan Catalano, "He's always closing his eyes, like it hurts to look at things." But has anyone seen Jared Leto blink recently? Maybe his eyes only close when you tip him over, like a china doll. But at least in Leto's acceptance speech for his role as a transgender woman with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club, he had the good sense to give a shout-out to the families of AIDS victims. Matthew McConaughey's acceptance speech for his role in the same film could be summed up thusly: "I coasted on my looks for the first 40 years of my life, and it worked out. Thanks, God!" But isn't that what we love about McConaughey? We get older; he stays the same age.
Oscar fashion, Emma Watson, Lady Gaga for Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Sandra Bullock, JC Penney, Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey