Best Oscar Dresses

And the Best Oscars Dress Of the Past Decade Belongs to ... (Drumroll)

Mar/01/2014 at 12:47 PM ET

Anne Hathaway Best Oscars gownKevin Mazur/WireImage

It’s been an action-packed week in the People.com offices thanks to our nail-biting Oscars gown bracket. In trying to determine who wore the best gown of the past decade, we endured some neck-and-neck races, some major upsets and some early favorites go down unexpectedly.

But the two weeks of suspense were all worth it to get to this moment: Anne Hathaway, in her custom Armani Privé gown, has taken the official title of “Best Oscar Dress of the Past Decade.”

RELATED: See the whole bracket here!

And Anne did not have an easy path to victory. First, she had to take out Naomi Watts’s similarly striking metallic Armani. Then she conquered Mila Kunis’s memorable lavender Elie Saab. And finally (and most tragically for our Style and Beauty Director Andrea Lavinthal), she took out early favorite Michelle Williams in yellow Vera Wang, before finally taking on Nicole Kidman in the final matchup.

It was a tough choice, neck-and-giant-bow-at-neck ’til the end, but Hathaway pulled out the win with a 56% vote. And we certainly can’t argue with a gown this classic, a hair and makeup look this elegant and accessories this special. Now we just can’t wait to see if anyone tops Anne tomorrow.

Oscars Gown Final Showdown: Anne Hathaway vs. Nicole Kidman -- Pick Your Favorite!

Feb/28/2014 at 09:45 AM ET

Oscar Gown Showdown: Anne Hathaway, Nicole KidmanFernando Allende/Broadimage; Gilbert Flores/Celebrity Photo



The Showdown: Anne Hathaway in Armani Privé (2009) vs. Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga (2007)
The Editor’s Pick: Anne Hathaway
Who Made the Call?: Andrea Lavinthal, Style and Beauty Director
Why She Chose It:

I’m on Oscars Gown Bracketology strike. Allow me to explain. Yes, both final contenders look stunning in their respective gowns but I’m still reeling from the early elimination of Michelle Williams in that yellow Vera Wang. This is worse than when the Bachelor sends home the fan favorite mid-season.

I suppose I have to choose between Anne Hathaway and Nicole Kidman, but before I do, I’d like to take a few minutes to highlight what our editors said about Michelle’s gown in previous rounds:

Alex Apatoff, Style News Editor: Michelle Williams’s striking marigold number has made countless best-dressed (and best-ever) lists since the moment she walked onto the red carpet … The dress fit her like a glove, and had just enough drama in the details to make her stand out without overwhelming her petite frame.

Brittany Talarico, Associate Editor: This was Michelle’s first Oscars appearance ever, and I love that she totally went for something bold and fresh. With the vibrant color, ruffled neckline and ruching at the waist, it’s no surprise this design launched the nominee to the top of best dressed lists.

Check out the full Oscars Gown Showdown bracket here!

OK, now I’m ready to accept Michelle’s defeat and move on. I was surprised when Nicole’s dramatic red Balenciaga beat out Gwyneth’s now-iconic white Tom Ford (two equally polarizing dresses, but Gwyn’s was such a moment), but I was downright stunned when it also kicked Charlize Theron’s Dior-clad butt. For a minute it looked like Sandra Bullock’s Marchesa would break her winning streak, but with 52% of the votes, Nicole was victorious once more.

The success of Anne’s iridescent Armani Privé gown was easier to predict. It’s glamorous, it’s elegant and even though it weighed 15 pounds, she made it look effortless. “Anne is so lovely and ethereal — she reminds me of the great actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age,” Giorgio Armani said of the look he created for her. “For this reason I dressed her as a type of fairy-mermaid, pure and sparkling … She looked truly breathtaking.”

Both of these stars are drop-dead gorgeous in their gowns, and I’d be perfectly happy to let it end in a tie. But since that’s apparently not how things work with these brackets, I’m going to give this to Anne by a very narrow margin. I think her shimmering champagne moment is going to stand the test of time for decades to come.


Do you agree with me or should Nicole Kidman win this round? Vote in the Oscars Gown Bracket and check back tomorrow to see who comes out on top!

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Oscars Gown Showdown: Sandra Bullock vs. Nicole Kidman -- Pick Your Favorite!

Feb/27/2014 at 09:45 AM ET

Oscar Gown Showdown: Sandra Bullock, Nicole KidmanSteve Granitz/WireImage; Gilbert Flores/Celebrity Photo



The Showdown: Sandra Bullock in Marchesa (2010) vs. Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga (2007)
The Editor’s Pick: Nicole Kidman
Who Made the Call?: Bronwyn Barnes, Senior Style Editor
Why She Chose It:
Balenciagaaaaaaaa! Sorry, I just had a Myrtle Snow moment there. (American Horror Story: Coven fans will know what I’m talking about.)

Nicole’s halter dress, created exclusively for the actress by the French fashion label, is the pinnacle of crimson-hued red carpet gowns – or at least it was until Lupita Nyong’o came along.

The look was polarizing: Some fashion critics raved, while others gave it two thumbs way down. Much of the discussion centered around that giant bow, which surely would have been the fashion meme of the night had Twitter been as popular in 2007 as it is now. The oversize knot was a little much, but I loved the way it draped into an over-the-shoulder train that cascaded down Nicole’s back, adding just the right amount of volume to the gown’s crepe silk skirt. I didn’t love the matchy-matchy red shoes, but this isn’t the Best Oscars Footwear Showdown.

Check out the full Oscars Gown Showdown bracket here!

(Speaking of shoulder embellishments, there was actually a bow detail on the original Marchesa design that Sandra wore in 2010, but the actress and her stylist removed it when they reworked the dress for the red carpet.)

With its lace-patterned illusion bodice and a sterling beaded skirt that shimmered like liquid metal, Sandra’s gown was a fitting choice considering that, by the end of the night, she had picked up the ultimate accessory. Not only was the dress a fan favorite, it became a part of Oscars fashion history, marking the first time Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig had ever dressed an Oscar winner.

They’re both memorable gowns, but for me this decision came down to looking at the side-by-side photos and deciding who wore it better. It may have had nothing to do with her ensemble — it’s just as likely she was experiencing a few Oscar nominee jitters — but Sandra seemed a little uncomfortable on the red carpet. And whether you loved it or hated it, you have to agree that Nicole really worked that dress.

Voting is now closed but click here to see who came out on top — and to weigh in on today’s matchup: Anne Hathaway vs. Nicole Kidman!

Oscars Gown Showdown: Anne Hathaway vs. Michelle Williams -- Pick Your Favorite!

Feb/26/2014 at 09:45 AM ET

Oscar Gown Showdown: Anne Hathaway, Michelle WilliamsFernando Allende/Broadimage; Frazer Harrison/Getty



The Showdown: Anne Hathaway in 2009 vs. Michelle Williams in 2006
The Editor’s Pick: Anne Hathaway
Who Made the Call?: Brittany Talarico, Associate Style Editor
Why She Chose It:

I’ll admit it: I’m feeling pretty cocky right now, because I picked both Anne and Michelle in previous rounds. That being said, this decision was nearly impossible. Picture me sitting at my desk making this exact face for over an hour. I feel like I’m the Academy, and I’m about to deny one of these gorgeous women an Oscar. It’s been rough. But I also want to preserve my winning record, so I have to go with my gut and pick Anne.

Check out the full Oscars Gown Showdown bracket here!

Anne’s look screams glamour. Her pearly iridescent Armani Privé gown with the circular paillettes and Swarovski crystal detailing on the bodice gives nods to Old Hollywood, while still maintaining an ageless elegance. This is a gown that will never feel out of style or dated. I think we’ll still be talking about it 10 years from now, with the same admiration. It will never lose its awe. (Anne, if you’re reading this and you want to bring it back for this year’s show, we won’t judge. Promise.)

On the other end of the spectrum, Michelle’s marigold Vera Wang stuns with its vibrant color and ruffle neckline. Gorgeous, but it just doesn’t feel as strong in comparison to Anne’s timeless design.

Hey, I’d be more than happy to wear Michelle’s dress. But if I opened my mailbox the day before the Oscars and an invite to the show was in there along with both of these gowns, first, I’d chew out the delivery guy for cramming designer couture in a tiny Brooklyn mailbox. But then I’d reach for the Armani Privé and book my ticket to LAX.

Voting is now closed but click here to see who came out on top — and to weigh in on today’s matchup: Sandra Bullock vs. Nicole Kidman!

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Oscars Gown Showdown: Charlize Theron vs. Nicole Kidman -- Pick Your Favorite!

Feb/25/2014 at 09:45 AM ET

Oscar Gown Showdown: Charlize Theron, Nicole KidmanJeff Kravitz/FilmM; Gilbert Flores/Celebrity Photo


The Showdown: Charlize Theron in Dior (2013) vs. Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga (2007)
The Editor’s Pick: Charlize Theron
Who Made the Call?: Zoë Ruderman, Deputy Style & Beauty Director
Why She Chose It:

Phew. I’m really glad that you guys chose Nicole over Gwyneth Paltrow in the previous round, because I would have needed to take a personal day to spend some serious time alone with my thoughts to decide between Charlize and Gwyn.

But back to the showdown at hand…

I’m not saying this choice was super-easy (it was no Cameron vs. Sandra showdown, which, ahem, most of you didn’t agree with me on!) — I just didn’t need a whole day to mull it over. But I did find myself belaboring the call a bit so — just like when I couldn’t decide at age 7 which crush I should eventually marry — I made a list. I’ve assigned points to each of the positive attributes. (Picture this written in my Lisa Frank diary.)

Charlize:
-the bright-white color +5 for unexpectedness and how it flatters her skin, +2 for offering up fresh wedding gown inspiration to brides everywhere
-the unique neckline +3
-brings the drama without a major voluminous skirt +2
-does the peplum thing before every dress, top, skirt and bathing suit bottom had one +7
-stole everyone’s attention without a single cutout, sheer panel, Swarovski crystal, floral embroidery or view of underboob +10

Nicole:
-red (my favorite color to wear) +5
-also dramatic without being ballgown-ish +2
-also nabbed attention without all those extras +7 (because I don’t think it got quite the buzz Charlize’s Dior did)
-neckline competes with hair down over her shoulders -1 (only 1 because her hair does look very pretty)
-coordinating lip color +3

It’s simple math, people. Nicole earned 16 points and Charlize comes out on top with 29.

Check out the full Oscars Gown Showdown bracket here!

Voting is now closed but click here to see who came out on top — and to weigh in on today’s matchup: Anne Hathaway vs. Michelle Williams!

Oscars Gown Showdown: Hilary Swank vs. Sandra Bullock -- Pick Your Favorite!

Feb/24/2014 at 09:45 AM ET

Oscar Gown Showdown: Hilary Swank, Sandra BullockAFP/Getty; Steve Granitz/WireImage



The Showdown: Hilary Swank in Guy Laroche (2005) vs. Sandra Bullock in Marchesa (2010)
The Editor’s Pick: Sandra Bullock
Who Made the Call?: Alex Apatoff, Style News Editor
Why She Chose It:
Two gorgeous ladies in two truly striking dresses that were perfectly picked to showcase their strengths (in Sandra’s case, her radiant face; in Hilary’s, her ridiculous figure). So how am I supposed to choose a winner from this evenly matched pair?

I agonized over this decision – and no matter who wins, I won’t feel despondent the way I did during my last gown showdown. But ultimately I had to give it to Sandra.

Check out the full Oscars Gown Showdown bracket here!

That’s because her glittering golden Marchesa column is so closely associated in my mind (and the minds of others, I think) with her big golden moment: triumphantly hoisting her Oscar with a big smile on her face, perfect pink lipstick and glossy waves shining to perfection.

Not too fussy but just glitzy enough for a defining life moment, Sandra’s dress is the epitome of a great Oscars gown –- which is why she gets my vote. But I’m happy to entertain other opinions in the comments!

Voting is now closed but click here to see who came out on top — and to weigh in on today’s matchup: Charlize Theron vs. Nicole Kidman!

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Oscars Gown Showdown: Michelle Williams vs. Reese Witherspoon -- Pick Your Favorite!

Feb/21/2014 at 09:45 AM ET

Oscar Gown Showdown: Michelle Williams, Reese WitherspoonFrazer Harrison/Getty; Fernando Allende/Splash News Online



The Showdown: Michelle Williams in 2006 vs. Reese Witherspoon in 2009
The Editor’s Pick: Michelle Williams
Who Made the Call?: Brittany Talarico, Associate Style Editor
Why She Chose It:
If this were a contest on who has the best hair, Reese would get my vote — hands down. She literally looks like she walked off the page of a Pantene ad with her crazy-shiny pin-straight strands. And those bangs were enough to make me consider reaching for the scissors. (True story: I remember bringing this photo to the salon and having a lengthy discussion with my hairstylist about getting fringe. And it’s still saved in the “maybe haircuts” folder on my desktop. What? You don’t have one of those folders?) But as you know, this isn’t about the hair. This is about the gowns. And Michelle’s marigold Vera Wang design totally trumps Reese’s Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci creation.

Check out the full Oscars Gown Showdown bracket here!

I know there are probably legions of fervent Reese fans who are ready to picket outside my apartment, but let me explain. This was Michelle’s first Oscars appearance ever, and I love that she totally went for something bold and fresh. With the vibrant color, ruffled neckline and ruching at the waist, it’s no surprise this design launched the nominee to the top of best dressed lists.

Reese’s deep-amethyst gown, on the other hand (and if you’re a fervent Reese supporter, stop reading), falls a bit flat. In fact, I was slightly surprised it was chosen as one of the original gowns in the bracket. It feels like so many strapless gowns I’ve seen before, and even though I think the actress could make a burlap sack look chic, I also have to be honest with my feelings and give the big “W” to Michelle.

Voting is now closed but click here to see who came out on top — and to weigh in on today’s matchup: Hilary Swank vs. Sandra Bullock!

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