Oscar Red Carpet: Jennifer Garner Spices Up Basic Black, Miley Cyrus Gets Sophisticated

'Juno' ladies Ellen Page, Diablo Cody miss the mark, as does Best Actress nominee Marion Cotillard's fish-scale fiasco.

Hollywood is officially back in session. With the writers’ strike finally over , the Academy Awards could leave all the drama for the Best Picture category. Perhaps that’s why the stars made simple statements of elegance on the red carpet Sunday night (February 22). The gowns, the arm candy, the man candy and the blushing moms-to-be were perfectly styled but not exactly fashion-forward. I guess that means we can keep this fashion report polite.

So let’s see whose outfits were Oscar-worthy, shall we? (And you can see the glamour for yourself here!)

With Valentino calling it quits after 25 years on top of the fashion industry, he may have inspired some starlets to sport his signature color: red. Heidi Klum, who arrived early as a presenter, donned a bright-red silk taffeta Galliano gown with a structured collar and train, paired with colorful diamonds in contrasting pink. Miley Cyrus, looking much more sophisticated than usual, chose a wide-neck, capped-sleeve Valentino dress with drooping earrings, clean makeup and a simple ponytail. Red could not have looked lovelier than it did on Anne Hathaway, who chose a draped Marchesa gown with rosette detailing over one shoulder and cushion-cut diamond earrings to top off her look. Helen Mirren also wore a red gown with diamonds, but these diamonds made up both the sleeves of her dress — not necessarily a stretch for a woman who was named Best Actress last year for playing a queen.

Bare shoulders were plentiful on one-shoulder Grecian gowns and sleeveless structured bust-lines. Katherine Heigl, who also wore red (especially on her cheeks), paired her gown with a Marilyn Monroe-inspired blond bob. Her one-shoulder, cinched-waist gown had a keyhole detail that added a nice avant-garde touch. Expectant mother Jessica Alba employed the oldest trick in J. Lo’s book, using a loose-hanging, deep-purple Marchesa gown to cover her bump, along with simple vintage Cartier jewelry. The dress also featured feather detailing across the bust to keep it modest, to the chagrin of men everywhere, we’re sure. Jennifer Hudson went Greek in her white gown with questionable animal-print-inspired rhinestone detailing — but it wasn’t nearly as questionable as the python bolero she wore last year . At least she’s learning!

George Clooney, Jessica Alba Hit The 2008 Oscars Red Carpet
Stars At The 2008 Academy Awards Show

Other starlets stayed true to form, depending on corset-assisted waistlines to complete their red-carpet looks. Amy Adams wore her red hair long and wavy to offset her deep-green Proenza Schouler gown, which featured a mermaid tail and oddly cut bust-line. Jennifer Garner’s black ruched gown with ruffled tail mimicked Adams’ in style, but her sweeping bangs and smoky eye makeup put her toward the top of our best-dressed list. Keri Russell hid new motherhood well in her ethereal Nina Ricci gown, a light-pink sleeveless number complimented by a large H. Stern diamond necklace. Also wearing light pink was Cameron Diaz, whose pleated Dior gown and Bulgari jewels reminded us so much of her white Valentino outfit from the previous year, we were a little unimpressed.

The women who got it wrong? Well, they either went too far or played it too safe. Diablo Cody, up for Best Screenplay for “Juno” and a former stripper, chose a leopard-print Dior gown that was neither body-conscious nor flattering. But if we could write this fashion report as well as she writes dialogue, we’d feel free to wear even Marion Cotillard’s Gaultier gown. We really wanted to love it, we did, and we’re sure if we gave it a few days we could, but it reminded us so much of fish scales, we thought we were looking at a mermaid. Cody’s “Juno” starlet, Ellen Page, kept up her red-carpet reputation of simplicity, but whereas Amy Ryan looked flawless in Calvin Klein, Page looked uncomfortable and awkward. Is it all right that that only makes us love her more?

Of course, we don’t mean to neglect the men, who also put on quite a show in their tuxedos. Anyone can tell you that not every tux is created equal, but we were happy to see the men take a standard approach in classic bowties. Patrick Dempsey and Steve Carell were among the men who went for the old-Hollywood look, although neither as flawlessly as Mr. Clooney himself. It’s nice when the man wears the suit and it doesn’t wear him. This is George Clooney we’re talking about, though, whose best accessories were his Valentino-clad date Sara Larson and an expression of self-satisfaction. And while we were devastated when we learned that “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” wouldn’t be up for Best Picture honors, Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen showed up together looking very much like twins in their emo glasses and curly ‘fros. In a year filled with drama for Hollywood, even the red carpet needs a nice laugh.

MTV News had the Academy Awards covered all night! Check out the winners’ list and our live blog from the big screen’s biggest night.