Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 SAG Awards: Red Carpet Review

I’m always looking for ways to freshen up my red carpet reviews, especially for new ways to present them and new categories to analyze. This year, I’m looking at the nominees in each female award category. (I did not list celebrities who were not in attendance or whose photos were not readily available online, and nominees in multiple categories only appear once.) I had planned on including the men, but it is nearly impossible to find online red carpet photos of them! Shame on you, media. Plus, I threw in a few additional folks at the end who seemed deserving of mention.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Uzo Aduba
Aduba’s pleated emerald gown was a stunning color for her, and its alternating stripes of plain and sequined fabric added visual interest and moved beautifully. Paired with a side-swept updo hairstyle, emerald and diamond earrings and ring, and an emerald clutch with red and gold accents, this was a terrific look. It looked even better when accessorized with her winning statuette.

Elle Kemper

Kemper’s retro halter dress sported a black bodice and an oversized blue and olive diamond and circle pattern on the skirt, which was echoed in a black-on-black diamond on the bodice. It was a “cute” look, but a bit simple for her. I’m not quite sure what it was lacking, but it definitely needed something to liven it up – perhaps an electric blue shrug or shoulder wrap? Or a heavy statement necklace in blue or olive? She looks lovely, just not particularly memorable.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Louis-Dreyfus often wears black or black with another color on the red carpet, and this black-and-white frock was no exception. With just a hint of vintage in the 50s-esque silhouette and a charming black-and-diamond bow necklace, Louis-Dreyfus captivated without overdoing it. The dress was lovely at a distance, but closeup, what seemed to be black polka dots or random blobs appeared to in fact be leaves cascading graceful towards the hem, and the bottom 4 or 5 inches of the skirt were embroidered with a delicate white-on-white lacy floral pattern. The strappy black heels and simple black clutch were the perfect accessories.

Amy Poehler

I’m not always a fan of stiff, structured bodices, but Poehler’s dress moved with her rather well. It didn’t have that stiff or uncomfortable look that boning can create. The broad, curved neckline was very flattering on her slim but straight figure, and her long, straight, newly pale auburn locks (fabulous color for her!) added to the elegant long lines of the gown. Continuing the trend of color-on-color embroidery, her gown had just a touch of black floral embroidery from the bodice down to the hips, giving just enough texture to avoid flatness. A very nice detail.

Fashion Winner: As much as I love Aduba’s look, I have to go with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her classic, unfussy elegance, and just a bit of fun.

Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Rooney Mara
Mara’s rail-thin figure is one of the few that can pull off such a stark, deep V-neck. With the simplicity of the dress, the severe hairstyle, and the unrelieved black, the look was a bit harsh. It needed a touch of softness somewhere – perhaps a short train, a single curl slipping from the ponytail, a pair of ruby or sapphire chandelier earrings, even a lavender or metallic clutch. Even a warm smile would have improved the look.

Rachel McAdams

Another gown with just a hint of vintage 50s, McAdams’ gown used black applique over a light brown base, with sheer shoulders and peekaboo sheer from the knees of the gown down. It was revealing without being revealing, very sexy yet very buttoned up. Her tousled beach-blond waves and youthful, pink-toned makeup were just the right touch to add some sweetness. Nicely done.

Helen Mirren

How is it that Helen Mirren continues to grow more and more beautiful over the years? The sparkling silver sheath fit her like a glove, showing off her voluptuous curves in a flattering but very age-appropriate way. The slight flare at the hem created a soft, graceful train, and the vertical lines of the beading emphasized that flare. The large diamond earrings peeking out from under her soft, platinum waves, and the matching diamond cuff, were exactly the right accessories. Simply stunning.

Alicia Vikander

I didn’t love Vikander’s gown when I first saw it, but it grew on me. I love the silhouette, I love the sequins, I like the various sizes of color blocks, but I think I just don’t like the colors, and I don’t like how the large gold and white panels at the neck bisected by the black stripe look like a bib. But it moved beautifully, and it seemed to suit its wearer well.

Kate Winslett

Winslett relies on a trumpet or mermaid silhouette, usually with cap sleeves and a plunging neckline, usually in a solid color, and this dress is no exception. However, the reason she relies on it is that it suits her beautifully, and that is certainly the case here. I like the peeps of satin at the edge of the neckline and sleeves, and I love the coordinating emerald jewelry and the little black clutch, along with the simple, sleek hair. Why mess with perfection?

Fashion Winner: Mirren, hands down. This look is pure elegance, and you can’t take your eyes off her.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Nicole Kidman
I liked Kidman’s dress better up close than I did far away – the stripes seemed to soften and blend into each other a bit up close, but from farther away, they’re just awfully…stripy, for lack of a better word. The colors weren’t quite right for her, either, although the soft ruffles along the broad v-neck and along the hems of the skirt layers worked well on her tall frame, where they might have looked girlish on a more petite figure. She paired the gown with a beautiful long green necklace, which unfortunately clashed horribly with the gown. Hopefully that necklace will make another appearance, but next time with a gown that works better for both her and the necklace.

Queen Latifah

When I first saw Latifah’s dress, I thought it was fine – interesting pattern of spangles, black-on-black detailing (such a common theme of the evening), nice silhouette – but when I got a better look later in the evening, I saw that it swung gracefully and came to life with subtle sparkle as it moved. Accented by large drop earrings and an elaborately parted and coiled updo in light auburn, this look bumped up to a “well done” on my list.

Christina Ricci

Ricci’s pale lavender dress featured a fitted sleeveless lace bodice with pale turquoise and champagne-colored panels that cascaded into a full, pleated skirt. Paired with a chunky champagne clutch, a mix of silver, diamond, and amethyst bangles, and antique-looking drop earrings, with her long, straight, blond locks tucked behind one ear and smoky eye makeup with just a hint of a cat’s eye, her look was simple but sultry.

Susan Sarandon

There were parts of Sarandon’s outfit that I liked very much – the open line of the jacket lapels, and the wide legs of the trousers, even the pale gold clutch and matching slingbacks. But the bra. Oh, Susan, the bra. I didn’t even mind the peep of skin below it; the problem was that it was riding much, much too low. When your breasts aren’t as perky as they used to be, showing a non-demi-cup bra that is riding low enough to show that much cleavage is not a good idea. Raise that bra another two inches and it would have been a terrific look. But as it was, we were all staring at her cleavage, and not for the right reason.

Kristen Wiig

Wiig’s cropped black pants and cute sandals worked well for her. But her single-strap white top encrusted with…I’m not sure what those were. Tinfoil flowers? Crumpled paper snowflakes? Granny afghan squares? It just didn’t work for me. The detailing was too heavy on the one side and looked lopsided. Perhaps if it had gone all the way to the seam of the shoulder strap it would have worked for me, but as it was, it had an unfinished look. Wiig’s overall look just felt too casual for my taste.  

Fashion Winner: Ricci’s flowing lavender gown is a total win in any category.

Lifetime Achievement

Carol Burnett
Burnett gets a mention of her own merely because she is Carol Burnett, and she is awesome. As Amy Poehler and Tina Fey stated when they presented her with the Lifetime Achievement Award: “Carol is better than all of us. We’re gonna give her a prize for it.”
Burnett was wearing a gorgeous kelly green jacket and long, straight, slit skirt over a beautiful feather-patterned spangly black cami – and a pair of baby blue Ugg slippers. Lovely, talented, and smart.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Clare Danes
Danes’ slender, willowy figure was perfectly suited to her clingy gown, with its plunging neckline, long narrow train, and blue and diamond jewelry. The lines of the darker blue panels of the bodice created a lovely, graceful silhouette. Its simplicity made it memorable.

Viola Davis

Davis’ striking dusky purple mermaid gown had a beautifully structured geometric tulip bodice that managed to look soft instead of stiff, but held its shape well and moved with her movements. The cinched-in waist, flared hem, and curved neckline with its double-layered narrow vee all combined to create a flattering silhouette. Add on softly waved hair, a heavy silver cuff bracelet, and a brilliant smile, and this look was as much of a winner as its wearer.

Julianna Marguiles

Marguiles also tends to fall back on a familiar red carpet style: a flat, bib, nearly halter-style bodice, a straight, narrow skirt, and some kind of simple detailing at the waist or neckline to add interest. It suits her slender figure and her perfect posture. This particular version is pure white, a lovely contrast to her jet black hair, with silver accents cinching in the waist. Simple, but elegant, requiring no accessories.

Fashion Winner: The could have gone to any of the contenders, but my eye keeps being drawn back to Davis, so I’m giving her the crown.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Brie Larson
I loved the skirt of Larson’s gown – the double strap, the deep slit, especially the gathering over the left hip. But the asymmetrical slit in the bodice revealed an odd and unflattering view of cleavage, and made the entire bodice appear lopsided. Also, the strap in the back was a wide red canvas that looked like it came off of a backpack – what? The color of the gown was stunning, the silhouette was great for her curvy figure, and the details of fabulous shoes and a sleek, unfussy hairstyle were well-chosen. But the overall look fell just a hair short.

Saoirse Ronan

The silhouette of this gown was so simple and unadorned that it could have been boring. But the texture of the fabric and Ronan’s animation while wearing it made it work. The color, however, was much too pale for her, and a greater contrast with her natural skin tone would have been much more flattering.

Sarah Silverman

Silverman’s gown was an interesting style, but looked as if it had been very badly fitted. The bodice seemed loose and the fabric over one hip was baggy, yet she could hardly walk due to the tightness of the skirt. The concept was great; the execution fell very short.

Fashion Winner: I can’t bear to award this category to any of these gowns. I’m giving it to Helen Mirren again, since technically she was also a nominee in this category.  

Special Mentions
I’d like to end by recognizing two actresses who sometimes struggle with finding the right gown for an exceptionally voluptuous body, both of whom did exceptionally well in finding exactly the right gown for this event.

Christina Hendricks
Hendricks often lands on the “miss” side of my “hit or miss” breakdown – and I can’t blame her, because how hard must it be to dress this figure? In an effort to avoid looking trashy, she often ends up with a matronly look. But she is squarely on the “hit” side tonight. This fabulous strapless gold-on-gold brocade sheath is accented with a shoulder drape and a long train, and Hendricks accessorizes it with a fabulous crescent-shaped mirrored purse, long drop earrings, and a couple of diamond cuff bracelets. With her hair swept up into a wispy updo, smoky eyes, and soft pink lips, she walks that fine line between sweet and sultry. Kudos on a terrific look.

Sofia Vergara

Vergara may not be quite as buxom as Hendricks, but she also occasionally struggles with finding a gown that doesn’t look trashy or overly revealing. This stunning electric pink column is a miracle of technology, with the bodice heavily structured yet still hugging and moving with her body. I love the way the gown puddles just a tiny bit at the hem, and I love the stitching details at the top of the bodice. The chunky gold-and-silver statement necklace is just right as an accent, and the long, narrow proportion of her clutch is a nice geometric contrast to the curves of the bodice, even though it’s exactly the same color as the gown. Elegant, not trashy. Nicely done.

Jacob Tremblay
This young Best Supporting Actor nominee was so poised, both on the red carpet and in the audience, and so well-dressed to boot, that I feel the need to recognize him with his own award. In this fantastic pinstriped 3-piece tuxedo with crisp white shirt and perfectly hand-tied bow-tie and his hair perfectly coiffed, Tremblay held his sartorial own with all the gentlemen present.

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