After more than four days of round-the-clock war coverage, the few hours of Hollywood glamour came as a welcome distraction.
Instead of anticipated toned-down looks, celebrities were out in full force: diamonds, cleavage and political opinions in tow (although the later was mostly confined to the ubiquitous "Peace Pin").
Earlier in the week the Academy had announced that stars would bypass the press on the red carpet and directly enter the building.
On Oscar night it played a bit differently: a few members of the press were able to photograph stars who decided to stop on a shortened red carpet, although the chitchat excluded asking who was wearing what
And Joan and Melissa Rivers were no where in sight to quiz celebs on their fashion choices. The Rivers' clan was relegated to covering arrivals by standing in front of a screen and giving a lame blow-by-blow of what was going on.
The irony wasn't lost on host Steve Martin who quipped that the absence of a glitzy red carpet would "send 'em a message."
Still glamorous, minus a few rocks
Apparently the only concession most of the actresses made to toning down the extravaganza was to give up a few jewels.
The gowns, hair and makeup were all very elegant, but the jewels were mostly limited to just one spectacular piece per star (Julianne Moore's earrings, Renee Zellweger's ruby ring) instead of over-the-top necklace and earring looks.
Celebrities decided that if a little bit of color was good, a lot was spectacular.
The most exuberant of celebrities was Julianne Moore who takes dressing to compliment her coloring very seriously. The redhead chose a head-to-toe green: a strapless, ruffle front gown, emerald chandelier earrings, even a green purse!
Jennifer Garner's pale blue Versace wasn't her best look (too tight!), but the color was great.
Renee Zellweger chose a sparkly red spaghetti strap Carolina Herrera dress with matching red lips.
Calista Flockhart and Hillary Swank went girly with pink; Kathy Bates looked regal in a cranberry Erik Gaskins gown and wrap.
In shades from champagne to fleshtones, actresses in pale golden hues lit up the stage Sunday night.
Diane Lane chose an elegant pale gold Oscar de la Renta dress with sheer top and feather skirt.
Halle Berry wore a beige one-shouldered Elie Saab and Kate Hudson a champagne Versace.
Back in black
This year's black dresses -- a perennial fave -- were anything but basic. Draping, lace corsets, sheer, beads all dressed up these looks.
Julia Roberts, looking blonder and sexier than usual, wore a lowcut black dress with ruching.
Salma Hayek went two tone in black lace top with white satin skirt by Carolina Herrera.
Cameron Diaz appeared less disheveled than usual in a not-so-basic black gown with red lips.
The men, from Keanu Reeves to Ben Affleck took mostly the traditional route in classic dark suits and tuxes.
Nicole Kidman in vintage multi-knot strapped and draped dress, which was softened with a long sheer skirt over a shorter one.
Diane Lane in a pale golden dress with feather skirt.
Catherine Zeta Jones in chocolate Versace. She's very pregnant and still managed to look glamorous: now that's real style.
Jennifer Lopez in a mint green, one shouldered Versace caftan was reminiscent of something Liz Taylor donned during her heavy years. Just awful.
Meryl Streep was totally overdone in a gaudy silver-sleeved black gown with enormous Fred Leighton vintage necklace (one of the few celebs to go with over-the-top jewels).
Hilary Swank went down the pink, ballerina look path that so many of her more stylish cohorts have stumbled on before including Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lara Flynn Boyle. Too tulle, too pink.
- Shoulder interest. Knotted looks, multi-straps, peekaboo cutouts.
- Chandelier earrings. The glitzier the better. Worn best with low-key makeup, hair and exposed shoulders.
- Lace. From Salma Hayek's sexy top (was she lined or wasn't she?) to Sean Connery's ruffled ascot, it added a feminine touch to many looks.
- Color is back in makeup, as well as clothes. From red lips to pastel lids, the face is back in definition. with clear hues.