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The Oscars 2021: Best Dressed

A couple of months later than planned, the Oscars 2021 took a rather different shape to the traditions we have come to expect from the biggest night on the awards-season calendar. But it still marked a return to (mainly) in-person festivities, bringing together Hollywood’s most celebrated names for trophies, fashion and speeches. From the best dressed to the winners and moments not to miss, here is everything you need to know


Carey Mulligan in Valentino Haute Couture

Carey Mulligan – nominated for Best Actress for her role in Promising Young Woman – dazzled on the red carpet in a golden sequin two-piece by Valentino Haute Couture. An outfit this impactful needs little in the way of embellishment, which is why she and stylist Nicky Yates kept it sleek with swept-back hair and chunky diamond-studded Cartier earrings – a celebration of red-carpet fashion at its finest.

Vanessa Kirby in Gucci

Best Actress nominee Vanessa Kirby – who received her first Oscar nod for her role in Pieces of a Woman – stunned in a pale pink cut-away gown by Gucci. Styled by Ryan Hastings, Kirby paired this show-stopping piece with pulled-back hair, deep-red lipstick and a covetable diamond necklace by Cartier. The resulting look was timely yet timeless, and nothing short of sublime.

Zendaya in Valentino Haute Couture

Working with her long-time stylist Law Roach, actor and musician Zendaya debuted a red-carpet look that was pure joy; she looked utterly radiant in a bright yellow cut-away gown by Valentino Haute Couture. From the eye-popping color to her flowing, gently waved hair, this look was the epitome of wanderlust, elevated by an intricate, and sizeable, statement diamond necklace by Bvlgari.

Emerald Fennell in Gucci

Emerald Fennell celebrated a momentous Academy Awards this year. Not only did she win Best Original Screenplay for her movie Promising Young Woman, it was also up for Best Picture, and she received a third nomination for Best Director. However, she also had one other reason to celebrate: stepping out on the red carpet in a feminine floral Gucci gown that perfectly highlighted her growing bump, she confirmed that she and her partner Chris Vernon were expecting a second child.

Laura Dern in Oscar de la Renta

Actor Laura Dern, who presented Daniel Kaluuya with his award for Best Supporting Actor, brought high-octane glamour to the red carpet in the form of a feathered gown by eveningwear connoisseur Oscar de la Renta. Working with stylist Elizabeth Stewart, she finished the ensemble with a Hollywood wave and a generous helping of jewels by Italian house Pomellato. The result? An elegant look reminiscent of old-world glamour.

Chloé Zhao in Hermès

Chloé Zhao made history as the first woman of color – and second woman ever – to take home the illustrious Best Director award for her movie Nomadland. True to form, Zhao redefined red-carpet style with a beaded gown by Parisian house Hermès, cast in an unassuming neutral hue, and paired it with box-fresh white sneakers and pigtails for an utterly singular look.

Viola Davis in Alexander McQueen

Veteran actor Viola Davis, who was nominated for Best Actress for her role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, opted for a brilliant-white beaded gown by Alexander McQueen. This exquisite dress is a statement in itself, and so Davis and her stylist Elizabeth Stewart kept additions classic, with an accompanying clutch bag and a selection of diamond pieces by Forevermark.

Amanda Seyfried in Armani Privé

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mank, Amanda Seyfried looked enchanting in a fairytale tulle gown designed by Armani Privé. This scarlet body-sculpting dress struck the perfect balance between architectural and ethereal. She and stylist Elizabeth Stewart opted for classic Hollywood glamour, finishing the look with diamond jewelry, red lipstick and a chic up-do.


L–R: Peter Spears, Frances McDormand, Chloé Zhao, Mollye Asher and Dan Janvey celebrate Nomadland’s Best Picture accolade

Who were the winners at the Oscars 2021?

Nomadland was the big winner of the night, taking home the statuettes for Best Picture, Best Actress for Frances McDormand (the third Oscar win of her career) and Best Director for Chloé Zhao, who, in a history-making moment, became the first woman of color and only the second woman ever to win in the category. Accepting the award, the filmmaker spoke about always finding “goodness in the people I met, everywhere I went in the world. So this is for anyone who had the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves, and to hold on to the goodness in each other, no matter how difficult it is to do that.”

While it had been widely anticipated that Chadwick Boseman would receive the Best Actor award posthumously for his powerhouse performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the award went instead to Anthony Hopkins, absent from the ceremony, for his depiction of a man with dementia in The Father. In the Best Supporting Actor category, Daniel Kaluuya continued his successful awards-season run, recognized for his portrayal of Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. In his speech, he paid tribute to Hampton and the work of the Black Panthers. “What a man – how blessed we are that we lived in a lifetime where he existed,” before calling for action: “There’s so much work to do, guys, and that’s on everyone in this room.” The movie also triumphed in the Best Original Song category, for Fight For You by H.E.R.

Best Supporting Actress went to Youn Yuh-jung for Minari, making her the first Korean actor to win an Oscar. Her acceptance speech was a highlight of the evening, as she paid tribute to her fellow nominees and spoke of her surprise at winning over Glenn Close, who was up for the eighth Academy Award nomination of her career. Elsewhere, Emerald Fennell picked up Best Original Screenplay for the #MeToo revenge thriller Promising Young Woman. She included Carey Mulligan in her thanks, saying she is “not only the most talented person in the world, but also the kindest and funniest”.

This year, the Academy has made moves to address the numerous callouts over its staggering lack of diversity, following the #OscarsSoWhite movement in 2016. In June 2020, it invited 819 new members to join its voting body. Of the invitees, it announced that 45 percent are women, 36 percent are non-white and 49 percent are from outside the US, with Cynthia Erivo, Ana de Armas, Zendaya, Awkwafina, Constance Wu, Yalitza Aparicio and Eva Longoria among the names.

Youn Yuh-jung, Daniel Kaluuya, Emerald Fennell and H.E.R. all took home a statuette at the 2021 Oscars
Audience members including Tom Hanks and Penelope Cruz react to Parasite winning Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020

When, where and how did the Oscars 2021 take place?

Rather than inviting all attendees to its usual Dolby Theatre landmark venue, the Academy handed out this year’s statuettes at a host-less ceremony in Los Angeles’ Union Station instead, with guests adhering to social distancing, wearing masks when not on screen and some participating over video link from international bases, including London’s BFI Southbank.

With the date pushed back to April 25, the eligibility deadline for movie releases had been extended from December 31 to February 28, opening entries for a number of movies (both blockbusters and indie releases) that were postponed in 2020. “For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year,” jointly announced Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson. “Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control.”


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