When it comes to the Academy Awards, everyone dons their very best, making the red carpet a true sight for sore eyes. That said, what if they went more costume party than formal dance? How cool would it be if Oscar noms dressed like the character they were playing in the movies that earned them those nods?
Well, as fate has it, every once in a blue moon they do. Character-inspired dresses are certainly much less prevalent than your standard beaded column gowns and siren red showstoppers, but some actors, singers, and costume designers in Oscars past have been known to take a leaf from their films' books. Some do it very literally (take Isabella Rossellini in actual blue velvet the year Blue Velvet was up for Best Picture) while some take a more impressionistic approach (like Cate Blanchett's Old Hollywood waves when she was nominated for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator). Heck, some actors basically are the characters they played, which could mean they just dressed as themselves and just happened to look a bit like their onscreen alter ego by coincidence (Diane Keaton as Annie Hall, anyone?).
So, from the aforementioned Cate Blanchett, to Diane Keaton, let's take a look at Oscar nominees that dressed up for the red carpet in ensembles inspired by the characters they were playing.
1. Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jenny Beavan costume-designed Mad Max: Fury Road to perfection, and she dressed correspondingly well to accept her big award for the night: She wore a moto jacket hand-bedazzled with a flaming steering wheel and a skull.
2. Adele (Skyfall)
Adele was the genius behind 2013's Academy Award for Best Original Song for her work on Skyfall, a James Bond film — and she went full Bond Girl with her figure-hugging beaded lace dress and majorly voluminous hair.
3. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
When she was nominated for starring in Marilyn Monroe biopic My Week with Marilyn, Michelle Williams definitely took a leaf from her onscreen alter-ego's book. She walked the red carpet in a coral, peplum'd vintage gown that definitely had some Monroe-esque midcentury glamour to it.
4. Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Now, she didn't exactly walk the red carpet in a Swan Lake-appropriate tutu, but she did don a fittingly theatrical gown from Rodarte, the same fashion design team responsible for all of her beyond gorgeous ballet costumes in Black Swan.
5. Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)
Reese Witherspoon picked up the big trophy for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in 2005's Walk the Line. Cash herself would certainly have approved of Witherspoon's era-appropriate vintage Christian Dior ball gown.
6. Cate Blanchett (The Aviator)
Now, she didn't quite play homage to Katharine Hepburn with her clothes (if she had, you can bet she'd have worn some kickass trousers), but she definitely did with her hair and makeup. She sported perfect Old Hollywood waves and even more perfect Old Hollywood siren-red lips when she picked up the trophy for her work on The Aviator in 2005.
7. Sandy Powell (The Aviator)
Like Blanchett, costume designer Sandy Powell went for some '40s-appropriate garb.
8. Kate Winslet (Titanic)
When she attended the Oscars for Titanic, Kate Winslet went for an Art Deco-inspired emerald green gown that would have looked right at home on Rose DeWitt Butaker.
9. Madonna (Evita)
Madonna performed "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" at the 1997 Academy Awards, and there was definitely something Eva Peron-esque about her lacy dress and her simple (for Madonna, anyway) hair and makeup.
10. Prince (Purple Rain)
Back in 1985, Prince celebrated his win for Best Original Song for Purple Rain by dressing in a glittery purple hood.
11. Diane Keaton (Annie Hall)
Diane Keaton's multi-patterned menswear-inspired look at the 1978 Academy Awards definitely served as a great send-up for her iconically dressed title character in Annie Hall.
It's quite a fun tradition, and it doesn't happen as often as it should. That said, between Emma Stone's star-studded Valentino (come on, it had you humming La La Land's "City of Stars") and Natalie Portman's Jackie O-esque Prada at the Golden Globes, maybe we'll be seeing some cool character-inspired dresses at this year's awards ceremony!