Oscars fashion: Red carpet watch

Oh dear, one hates to rain all over a young ingenue's Very First Fashion Moment, but the dress of "Atonement's" young star, Saoirse Ronan, was both too old and to young for her.

The jade color wasn't very flattering against her ivory skin, and the dress itself looked like what you'd get if you combined a granny nightgown with a 10-year old girl's first fancy party dress. The flouncy lace at the bottom was particularly unfortunate.

Speaking of pale, Anne Hathaway's va-va-voom red dress festooned with red roses was a lovely complement to her ivory skin. Having endured her share of red-carpet flubs, she got it just right with this glamorous yet quietly sexy goddess dress. Let's hope she finds the sweet Seoirse Ronan later at one of the parties and gives her some fashion advice.

George Clooney once again oozed Old Hollywood man-glamour. With his salt-and-pepper hair swept back into a perfect swoop and his classic tux, he recalled Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Amy Adams' gorgeous gold-mesh purse, she admitted, had nothing in it. But it looked pretty! That's all that mattered.

Daniel Day-Lewis and his wife were an accessories nightmare. He wore two piratical gold earrings, but she was a vision of ugliness in a Morticia Addams dress topped by giant, plastic-looking black jewelry. Then again, someone has to provide the magazines and fashion blogs with fodder, and the couple outdid themselves in that regard.

Laura Linney, Jennifer Aniston and Amy Adams all wore relatively sedate dresses in black or dark colors. Though they were detailed and refined, they felt a little boring. Where's the kooky Bjork-style crazy-person dress? Where's the Cher-esque wackiness of yore? Maybe all those magazines and fashion tabloids have scared the stars even more - if anything the fashion was almost too tasteful this year.

Red dresses were another theme - Miley Cyrus, aka Hannah Montana, who was an Oscar presenter, wore a red Valentino dress. It was a tad plain, but then again Cyrus is so young that a very ornate gown would have been too much on her. Come to think of it, Valentino red might have been a bit too much for her to handle, but then again, at least she didn't go frumpy and dowdy, which is what younger stars frequently do.

I have a feeling that Marion Cotillard's scaly dress is going to provoke a lot of mixed opinions. It was a creamy off-white number with hundreds of scallops and a fishtail - the net effect, if you'll forgive the pun, was of a mermaid going to a fashionable ball. Perhaps the gown was a little offbeat, but with her Gallic sang-froid, Cotillard carried it off, and at least the dress wasn't boring.

Not surprisingly, Jessica Alba looks gorgeous during her pregnancy. She wore a dark purple dress that complemented her bump and her skin tone quite nicely.

Jennifer Hudson's white gown might have been a little too blinding for the red carpet, but again, at least the gown wasn't the safe, expected choice.

It looked as though Tilda Swinton got dressed in about four seconds - let's see, take a black trash back, cut out armholes, put it on, and done!

Katherine Heigl brought some va-voom to the red carpet as well with her fire-engine red dress, which she perfectly complemented with bright-red lipstick and sexy Marilyn Monroe hair.

Speaking of red, Helen Mirren showed the young `uns how its done with her red dress, which managed to be classy without being dowdy. Her sleeves, which appeared to be made of crystals, were particularly fetching.

Of course, all I really cared about was what "Juno" star Ellen Page would wear. Unfortunately, she went with a flapper-style gown - in black. The ultimate effect was a large, shapeless mass swallowing a small and perky actress. Oh well, with any luck Page will get some great roles this year and do better next year.

Maureen Ryan: moryan@tribune.ccom