Best To Worst Dressed At The 2021 Oscars

Whose outfit at the 2021 Oscars was a critical darling? And whose outfit went … straight to DVD?

On April 25, the 93rd Academy Awards finally rolled tape on ABC after several delays due to the world- and industry-shaking pandemic. But while the box office may have taken a hit this year, our A-listers still hit… the red carpet! That’s because the event was held fully live and in-person (and mask-less) at Los Angeles’ Union Station — with “additional events” at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, per USA Today. 

Presenters and recipients adhered to strict COVID guidelines and social distancing measures, treating the “event as an active movie set,” as an email from the show’s producers ahead of the 2021 awards promised, per The Hollywood Reporter. As a result, we were gifted with a live red carpet, and some fabulous in-person glamour. Well actually, the glamour part was rather mandatory.

The producers’ no-nonsense email continued to explain there not be “an option to Zoom into the show.” They also made it clear there wouldn’t be a Jason Sudeikis hoodie moment. “We’re aiming for a fusion of inspirational and aspirational,” it read. “Formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not,” it continued. Awkward. Well, with that established, the evening was still a fun ride that celebrated film, and brought the fashion. Or else.

Here are the 2021 Oscars looks ranked from best to worst.

Viola Davis looked absolutely timeless in white

Viola Davis could “Get Away With Murder” in her stunning Oscars gown! Davis, who was nominated for Actress In A Leading Role at the 2021 awards for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” went full high-fashion on the red carpet at the Dolby Theater in white! 

As People wrote, the actor “has been leaning into bright colors throughout the season,” so her choice to opt for a gorgeous angelic moment was a surprise, yet traditionally gorgeous. According to People, the “flowing white Alexander McQueen gown with a cutout bodice design,” was paired with “Forevermark diamond drop earrings.” She topped it off (literally) with a “pompadour-style up-do” and “natural,” makeup look, per the outlet. And the internet agreed: this was “white” hot.

“Viola Davis. That’s the tweet,” one Twitter user gushed. “…she has my favorite look of the night,” wrote a second. “One thing about Viola Davis is that she’s going to outact your fave from the carpet to the screen,” another wrote, along with the (emerging) meme of Davis fake-tossing back a shot on the red carpet. 

“The dress gives the illusion of showing skin through it, but it’s actually a corset dyed to match Viola’s skin tone,” Davis’ stylist Elizabeth Stewart told Vogue on the designer dress. We couldn’t conceal our love for Davis!

Carey Mulligan was a "Fashionable Young Woman"

Carey Mulligan… wow. The British actor was also nominated for Actress In A Leading Role for her starring turn in “Promising Young Woman” at this year’s awards. And on the red carpet, she looked like a literal golden statue in her glimmering gold number. 

As People wrote, Mulligan wore “a gold sequin two-piece Valentino Haute Couture gown” which included a “bandeau top and a billowy full skirt, plus Sophia Webster heels.” She also strutted the red carpet, “arm-in-arm with husband Marcus Mumford” of Mumford and Sons, “who kept it classic in a black tuxedo and bow tie.” It was great to see the two have a couples moment, and as far as looks go, the internet feels that Mulligan gave us all “An Education”!

“If Carey Mulligan doesn’t win an Oscar in this dress I’m going to need her to wear it to every Oscars until she does. This is a VICTORY dress,” one Twitter user wrote. “Carey Mulligan’s wearing a Winner’s gown, just saying,” wrote another. “gold rush was written about carey mulligan,” wrote a third, seemingly referencing the Taylor Swift song. We don’t disagree! 

This dress was “Oscars” personified.

LaKeith Stanfield served us retro dapper elegance

“Stanfield, LaKeith Stanfield.” The handsome leading man, who was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” gave us retro realness that won’t “Get Out” of our heads anytime soon. 

According to ET Online, Stanfield “oozed disco coolness in custom Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello black jumpsuit.” The actor celebrated the look (and how could he not?) on Instagram ahead of the show. “Pulled up to the Oscars lookin like your uncle but since it’s a dry bar I’m going back home,” Stanfield wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of the look. “Good luck to the nominees tho!” 

“Okayyyyy, ladies and gentlemen…LaKeith Stanfield in custom Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello (!!!!). THE BEST.” one Twitter user wrote. “LAKEITH STANFIELD IN SAINT LAURENT. INSTANTLY ON MY GREATEST OF ALL TIME LIST. SEXY. A LITTLE MEAN. HOT. PRISTINE. REVERSE LE SMOKING.” wrote another. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. And we won’t. 

Glenn Close had a near-win in her regal blue Armani Privé

Although the eight-time Oscar nominee looked positively regal in her sharply tailored, knee-sweeping Armani Privé dress (which was a boldly bedazzled sapphire blue), Glenn Close’s 2021 Oscars ensemble did not come all the way together, thanks to her loose-fitting, loungewear-like pants. Wearing her hair pinned in an elegant updo, Close also rocked a pair of matching, decadent leather gloves.

Nominated at the 93rd Oscars for playing “Mamaw” in Ron Howard’s “”Hillbilly Elegy,” Close has never been a stranger to aesthetically bold choices in her roles, as well. From her infamously frayed black-and-white hair in “101 Dalmations” to her Mamaw who hides Close’s high cheekbones under layers of prosthetics, the Hollywood icon welcomes transformation. “It’s gratifying because you can really remove yourself,” Close told Entertainment Weekly. She is also unafraid to show fans a glimpse of her unadorned visage, as she smiled for her Oscar day “prep post” on Instagram, cheerfully toasting the camera in just a bathrobe. 

Chloe Zhao's casual look got mixed reviews

A new line in the sand was drawn for attendees at the 2021 Oscars, with the dress code being rather strict. “Formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not,” The Hollywood Reporter pointed out. Nonetheless, “Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao seemed to defy these very guidelines on Oscar night. Known for a generally relaxed fashion sense that includes long pigtail braids, Zhao sported a pair of comfy-looking white sneakers underneath a simplistic beige cocktail dress (and pigtails, of course). 

Despite the Academy’s guidelines, the Twittersphere was still overwhelmingly in favor of Zhao’s footwear choice. “Chloe zhao at the Oscars party in white sneakers and the most casually elegant dress I’ve ever seen is what we should all strive for in our fancy party clothes,” one Twitter user quipped. Sounds like Zhao is winning people over in multiple aspects of 2021! 

Laura Dern's dress drew comparisons to Björk's

Laura Dern might be Hollywood royalty and a legendary actor in her own right, but that didn’t shield her from Twitter ridicule for her 2021 Oscars gown. In a bottom-heavy frock that featured a black turtleneck top and a voluminously frilly and feathery white skirt, Dern arrived alongside “Big Little Lies” co-star and pal Reese Witherspoon. “Swipe to see my hot date,” Witherspoon quipped on her big night’s Instagram selfie cozying next to Dern.

Not everyone shared that opinion of Dern’s Oscars look, however. One Twitter user went right for the jugular in joking, “How many Muppets died for Laura Dern’s gown?” Another individual referenced the person who wore the ultimate infamous Oscars dress — Icelandic singer Björk. (At the 2001 Oscars, she wore a white tulle swan dress.) “Really hoping that Björk is hiding under Laura Dern’s dress and pops out for a showstopper,” this user joshed. Considering she’s an Oscar winner for 2020’s “Marriage Story” (and three-time nominee), Dern will likely laugh the jokes right off. 

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