There are few times in life when one can count on the eternal verities, but Academy Awards night is one of them. With 500 feet of red carpet and enough bling to open a Cartier store on the side, the entrance to the Kodak Theatre provides us with enough beauty, if not truth and goodness, to last until... well, next year. There were gowns of good taste aplenty, and great presence. Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett were standouts — but those of us of a certain age can't help but wax nostalgic for another time, when you never knew what Cher was going to turn up in.
Part of the thrill of watching the Academy Awards is realizing that we really do live in a different world from the people in Hollywood. Part couturier confab, part freak-show, the Oscars are as much middlebrow fantasy as they are peer tribute. But with stylists and designers now engineering practically every inch of the show, the red carpet just isn't the wild, wacky, unpredictable place it used to be. Still, it's always a fun fashion ride.