Most awards ceremonies have gone without a red carpet in the last year, for the quite understandable reason that there would be no guests to walk down it.
But then came Sunday’s Academy Awards – the pinnacle of awards season; the biggest night in the entertainment calendar – where nominees were encouraged to turn up in person if they could, rather than dial in virtually.
The resulting red carpet gave us elegance, flamboyance, and an explosion of colour. Here are 13 of the biggest and best looks from this year’s Oscars.
1. Regina King? Regina Queen
The star, who directed One Night In Miami and won a supporting actress Oscar herself just two years ago, wore a custom, pale-blue Louis Vuitton gown with bedazzled pleating and bold 1980s-style shoulders.
In the absence of a ceremony host, King went on to host the early part of the ceremony, presenting both the screenplay categories.
2. Paul and Liz Raci are couple goals
Sound of Metal star Paul Raci was in high spirits as hit the red carpet with his wife Liz Hanley Raci, who also doubles up as the 73-year-old actor’s agent.
“My wife has been my agent for 20 years now and she’s been in there fighting for me,” the supporting actor nominee told People magazine. “My wife Liz, she’ll be there with me and she’s my heart.”
Raised as the hearing son of two deaf parents, Raci is fluent in sign language and he both spoke and signed his answers as he answered questions from reporters on the red carpet.
3. Fennell turned Los Angeles into Emerald City
British director Emerald Fennell famously shot Promising Young Woman while she was seven months pregnant. The movie, which scored five Oscar nominations, was filmed over just 23 days back in 2019.
Two years on, Fennell found herself walking the red carpet at Sunday’s Academy Awards – this time pregnant with her second child.
Fennell looked beautiful in a voluminous floral Gucci gown, which was pink in places, but mostly green (perhaps a reference to her own first name).
4. There were touching tributes to Kobe Bryant
Martin Desmond Roe and Travon Free won best live action short for their film Two Distant Strangers. Their stylish outfits on the red carpet came complete with a touching and subtle tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.
The basketball player and his daughter Gianna were two of the nine people who died in a tragic helicopter crash last January. Gianna Bryant, who was aged just 13, was a prodigiously talented basketball player like her father.
Roe and Free sported bejewelled Dolce & Gabbana pins with the numbers 24 and 2 – which were the jersey numbers for Bryant and his daughter.
Shortly after Bryant’s death, the Los Angeles Lakers retired the number 24 as a mark of respect to the star, who won an Oscar himself in 2018 for Dear Basketball, an animated short film he wrote and directed.
5. Maria Bakalova knows how to enforce social distancing
Maria, you’ve got to see her.
The star of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has sussed out the easiest way to abide by the two-metre rule: wear a six-metre-wide dress.
In fact, the Louis Vuitton gown she wore featured 100 metres of of tulle – a lightweight netted material – paired with a deep V neckline adorned with diamonds.
The best supporting actress nominee looked amazing as she walked the red carpet, and frankly we’re just glad she finally had the chance to show off a more glamorous side.
Her role in Borat was the opposite – it involved everything from interviewing Rudy Giuliani in a hotel room to taking part in numerous gross-out scenes (you’ll know if you’ve seen it). If anyone earned a red carpet appearance this year, it’s Maria.
6. The best actress nominees set a gold standard
Viola Davis (centre) looked wonderful in an Alexander McQueen dress designed by Sarah Burton, while her co-nominees Andra Day (left) and Carey Mulligan (right) both opted for high-slit golden gowns, designed by Vera Wang and Valentino respectively.
We’re not sure if the pair were trying to improve their Oscars chances by dressing like one of the statuettes, or if this was one of those awkward moments where you accidentally wear the same outfit as your colleague to the office, but we applaud them either way.
7. Alan Kim is the winner of awards season
The nine-year-old isn’t just one of the breakout stars of Minari, we’re going to go ahead and say he’s breakout star of the entire Academy Awards.
Kim provided one of the early viral moments of the night, when he was filmed dancing on the red carpet.
He sported a stylish Thom Browne suit featuring shorts (it’s quite hot in LA at this time of year) and striped socks, effortlessly showing some of his acting elders how it’s done.
And it’s nice to see he hasn’t quite reached that age where he’s too embarrassed to be photographed with his Mum.
8. Celeste is the queen of our hearts
The British singer was nominated in the best original song category for Hear My Voice, from The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Celeste walked the red carpet holding an anatomical red heart purse, supplied by Gucci (rather than a real human).
9. The men had varying attitudes to colourful outfits
Two of the major British acting nominees – Daniel Kaluuya and Riz Ahmed – played it fairly straight with their outfits – going for razor-sharp black and navy tuxedos.
One Night In Miami star Leslie Odom Jr took a slightly more colourful approach, wearing a golden Brioni suit, complemented with Cartier jewels.
10. Great style travels across the Atlantic
Two years ago, Glenn Close and Olivia Colman faced each other in the best actress category, with Colman ultimately winning for The Favourite. This year, they were up against each other again, for best supporting actress.
But while they might be nominated in the same category, they weren’t actually on the same continent.
Close was pictured wearing a blue Armani dress in Los Angeles, while Olivia Colman wore a long-sleeve scarlet gown at the Academy’s UK Oscars hub at London’s BFI.
11. Crip Camp owned the red carpet
Also on the red carpet were the stars and producers of Crip Camp, nominated for best documentary feature.
Along with Sound of Metal and Falling Through, Crip Camp was one of several nominees this year praised for their representation of disability.
Co-directors Nicole Newnham (fourth from right) and Jim LeBrecht (third right) wore a beautiful cream gown and a custom-made navy blue Gucci ensemble respectively.
After they tweeted a picture from the Los Angeles red carpet, one user replied: “As a disabled teenager, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
And or the first time ever, this year’s Oscars stage had a ramp, to make sure wheelchair users had no problem getting on stage.
12. Chloe and Swankie shared the spotlight
Best director winner Chloé Zhao was truly the queen of this year’s Academy Awards, but that didn’t mean she was planning on hogging the spotlight. Instead, she walked the red carpet with Swankie, one of the stars of her film, Nomadland.
Like many of the people who appear in the movie, Charlene Swankie was a non-professional actor when she was hired to appear in the film, which has been praised for its depiction of the nomadic lifestyle.
13. We are not worthy of Laura Dern
As one of last year’s winners, Laura Dern returned this year to present the best supporting actor category.
Her delightful Oscar de la Renta gown gave off three simultaneous messages:
1. Laura Dern is one of Hollywood’s best dressed women.
2. Laura Dern will not be getting cold at the after party.
3. Bjork’s swan dress from the 2001 Oscars was way more ahead of its time than we realised.