From Natalie Portman to Billy Porter: Some Say, Some Slay on the Oscars Red Carpet

Fashion

From Natalie Portman to Billy Porter: Some Say, Some Slay on the Oscars Red Carpet

Illustration: Aishwarya Nayak

Unless your name is Donald Trump, it’s pretty unlikely that you would brag about 2019 being a great, yuge year for you. It’s been a chaotic spell for the earth and all her inhabitants. But a year of IRL drama naturally brings with it a spate of great films. From Sam Mendes’ 1917 to the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems – and all the films that were controversially left off the roster of nominees – it’s been a fabulous season for cinema, and the 2020 Oscars have been hotly awaited.

As always, the fun began on the red carpet where, apparently, everyone who has ever been a part of the MCU made a pact to dress up as superheroes. There was Brie Larson in a slinky champagne gown, complete with cape. Scarlett Johansson, soon to be seen as Black Widow, dealt with the trauma of being Marvel’s second standalone superheroine by dressing to kill in a futuristic silver corset dress.

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Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, wore a floaty black gown and looked like a sea witch who makes sketchy bargains with mortals.

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

For once, the DC-verse refused to be left behind. Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, wore a floaty black gown and looked like a sea witch who makes sketchy bargains with mortals. Wonder Woman Gal Gadot donned a black lace bodysuit with a massive pink skirt, clearly meant to be ripped off and cast aside for when she has to sprint after the bad guys (looking at you, Academy members who didn’t watch Greta Gerwig’s Little Women.) So was Janelle Monae’s crystal space-princess Ralph Lauren gown an announcement of her casting in Marvel’s Eternals? Does Billy Porter’s gold-feathered bodice mean he’ll be in Birds of Prey 2? We can only dare to dream.

Sleepwear was a popular theme, most likely a comment on how snooze-worthy the Oscars have become without a host to hold it together.

But the honours go to a very human hero, Natalie Portman, who plays Jane Foster in Thor. Her stunning Dior black-and-gold cape gown was embroidered with the names of women directors who missed out in the Best Director category. The all-male nominees included the usual suspects like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, leaving out women whose films were up for other awards. Portman’s cape listed Farewell director Lulu Wang, Gerwig, Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen and Slim), Celine Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), and Alma Har’el (Honey Boy). Most of these directors didn’t get a chance to attend the Oscars, but Portman made sure they were there in spirit and letter.

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Natalie Portman’s stunning Dior black-and-gold cape gown was embroidered with the names of women directors who missed out in the Best Director category.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Portman wasn’t the only one saying it with clothes. Sleepwear was a popular theme, most likely a comment on how snooze-worthy the Oscars have become without a host to hold it together – although at least we had the excitement of Parasite winning Best Picture. Bong Joon-Ho can finally go home.

Eighteen-year-old Billie Eilish was at the Oscars and even her pajamas were Chanel. I am 27 and spent my Sunday evening in a nightie from Colaba Causeway. But guess we are not the same. Meanwhile, Lilly Singh chose an extravagant white bathrobe for the evening of her dreams. Given that Sandra Oh went to the trouble of hauling around a pair of 30-kilo ruffled sleeves and matching skirt, and Kristen Wiig fashioned a dress out of actual red carpet, surely Singh and Eilish could have done a bit more?

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Eighteen-year-old Billie Eilish was at the Oscars and even her pajamas were Chanel.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Which brings us to the men’s “fashion.” Leaving aside Billy Porter, the dudes were as boring as we’ve come to expect. Spike Lee’s purple suit was a graceful tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, while Timothee Chalamet in his Prada tracksuit looked like the Gen-Z captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

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Oscar 2020 Men’s “Fashion”: Leaving aside Billy Porter, the dudes were as boring as we’ve come to expect.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Despite these athleisure-inspired looks, the real MVP is Joaquin Phoenix’s dry cleaner, who has ensured that Phoenix wears the exact same black tuxedo all through the awards season. No doubt this top red carpet award, like the Oscars themselves, will see its fair share of naysayers and haters. But when you think about the time a shrunken pair of trousers might have added to Phoenix’s Best Actor acceptance rant, you’ll agree that we all dodged a bullet from the Joker.

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