A Red Carpet Report Card from Celebrity Stylist Sam Saboura

02/22/2012 at 10:30 AM ET

Shailene Woodley, Rooney Mara, Jessica Chastain
WireImage; AP; FilmMagic

We know how we feel about stars’ red carpet looks, but how do the dresses, jewels, hair and makeup look through a stylist’s eyes? Sam Saboura, who’s dressed Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others, thinks it’s been an “interesting” year so far, he tells PEOPLE.

“I was surprised to see such a lack of color at the Golden Globes,” he shares. “So many actresses jumped straight to pre-fall for their dresses — we weren’t even able to enjoy what was coming for spring 2012.” The SAG Awards were an improvement — “I was happy to see there were pops of bright color,” he shares — and Saboura predicts the Oscars will be even better.

“Coming off the spring 2012 couture shows, we’re seeing a lot of color in couture, a lot more volume, fuller skirts,” he says. “It’s so perfectly appropriate as we come into the Oscars.”

So that being said, who is the stylist most excited to see? Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the newcomers.

“I was blown away by Shailene Woodley at the Globes,” he says. “What people don’t get is that a dress on the red carpet can make a celebrity into a superstar. These first few times out, she has to impress us; get our attention while still staying safe, presentable and appropriate. So I thought she was stunning, especially for a first-timer.”

Another favorite is “the amazing” Rooney Mara. “She’s staying true to herself. She balances the character she’s going to be on the red carpet,” Saboura says. “For the Oscars, though, I do hope she steps outside of herself a little bit.”

An actress he’s hoping to see some improvement from is The Help‘s Jessica Chastain, who’s “so beautiful,” Saboura says. “I like her because she’s taking risks, but I don’t feel she’s found her footing just yet.”

Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy are two other stars “going in the right direction,” according to the stylist, but for Sunday night’s big dance, he’s really hoping for some pleasant surprises from every leading lady. “I hope we see more edginess, some maturity,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

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