Hathaway, before the show, said her dress with a seemingly sweet vibe but with a strategically open back and sexy sides, was a last-minute choice. "It fit my mood and place where I'm at right now."
It almost seemed there were two routes to the red carpet, said Rubenstein: incredibly beaded and eye-catching, worn by Nicole Kidman in L'Wren Scott, Halle Berry in Versace, and Stacy Keibler in Naeem Khan; or a simple color with a great silhouette. He puts Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon in a strapless royal-blue Louis Vuitton gown with a black strip at the bustline and Jennifer Aniston in a Valentino red strapless gown in that camp.
"For some, there was a pull back to not do a lot, and that's where fashion is as well," Rubenstein said.
Amanda Seyfried's metallic halter dress by Alexander McQueen with a keyhole opening was three months in the making, and Berry said she trusted Donatella Versace to dress her like the Bond girl that she has been on the big screen. She ended up in a silver beaded-and-black gown with long sleeves and V-neck.
Jennifer Hudson's shiny, second-skin blue Roberto Cavalli almost looked like an animal print.
Kristen Stewart had an even paler blush gown; hers a hand-beaded strapless with tulle inserts by Reem Acra. She accentuated her gown with a 19th-century Fred Leighton necklace with 91 graduated diamonds.
Jennifer Garner chose a violet-colored Gucci with cascading ruffles in the back. Her 200-carat diamond-and-dark platinum necklace from the Neil Lane archives was a big statement.
Beaded gowns had a strong presence, worn by Sandra Bullock, in a fully embroidered Elie Saab; Renee Zellweger, in a sleek Carolina Herrera; and Adele in Jenny Packham. Catherine Zeta-Jones was statuesque in an all-gold Zuhair Muhad. Queen Latifah's white V-neck tank dress by Badgley Mischka had a lot of sparkle on the straps.
Salma Hayek's midnight-blue velvet Alexander McQueen gown had a gold embellished collar, and she carried a gold skull box clutch.
Helen Hunt wore a little bit of her conscience along with her blue column gown. It was from fast-fashion retailer H&M. She chose it because it was both accessible and because the company has launched a substantial green initiative. She did wear it, however, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of borrowed jewels.
For the men, the trend was beards, with George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones, among them.