The red carpet can be intimidating for any actress—especially at the Oscars, when the style stakes are especially high, and the chances of a wardrobe malfunction even higher.
But true to form, our favorite A-listers have each discovered a way to look their best amidst the push and pull of the paparazzi. The secret? Finding a signature pose and sticking to it. It pretty much guarantees a great photo, never mind of the gown. Bonus: it takes the awkwardness out of the eternul conundrum of what to do with your hands.
Ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, we’re taking a closer at the go-to stances for this year’s crop of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominees. From Emma Stone’s trademark over-the-shoulder glance to Nicole Kidman’s power pose, it seems that each one has developed their own unique way of working the camera, time and again. After all, they don’t call it the step and repeat for nothing.
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Isabelle Huppert, Elle
As the only French actress in the bunch, it’s not surprising that Huppert brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the carpet. And whether she’s clad in a crimson Armani suit or a sequined Gucci frock, her left hand on the hip and slight lean puts her outfit on display and makes her appear consistently confident, relaxed, and yes, unbelievably chic.
Ruth Negga, Loving
In a category packed with Hollywood veterans, Negga is easily the biggest breakout of the year, thanks to her touching turn in Loving and her flair for fashion. Just as her dresses walk the line between sultry and sweet, her subtle head tilt and coy smile is both charming and the slightest bit sultry.
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Even when she’s posing for two, Portman’s posture remains impeccable. Perhaps it was all of the ballet training for 2010’s Black Swan? Or maybe it came from mirroring Jackie Kennedy’s regal strut in Jackie? Either way, the actress’s simple shoulders back approach is as timeless as it gets.
Emma Stone, La La Land
Her hair color may change, but her pose sure doesn’t. Stone’s glamorous over-the-shoulder glance has become her trademark probably because it best displays the striking details of her dress that would’ve been hidden by a straight-on shot. Open backs, bustles, and trains deserve their moment in the spotlight too.
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
The best accessory on the red carpet? An authentic smile. And Streep takes it a step further. The 20-time Oscar nominee (she’s won three) genuinely looks like she’s having fun at awards shows, often giggling at photographers despite the chaos of the crowd. (She's also a fan of the hand-on-hip move.) Indeed, her easy stance and sunny disposition shows actresses half her age how it’s done.
Viola Davis, Fences
At this point, it’s almost weird when Viola Davis doesn’t win at an awards show. Over the years, she has picked up practically everything (Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA), but the coveted Oscar prize. We have a feeling that’s all about to change this year. Good thing she already has the winner’s pose down pat.
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Just call Harris the queen of the crossover. The Moonlight star instinctually steps one foot over the other when she pauses for the paps. Maybe it helps keep her feeling steady in her stilettos. Or maybe, like us, she just appreciates the power of standout shoes and wants to make sure hers get their due.
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Standing tall at five-foot-eleven, Kidman always looks statuesque. But there’s something about her Wonder Woman-esque power pose that makes her seem even more striking in photos. Her body language is strong, but her easy smile is still warm and somehow approachable.
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Given the choice, we’d definitely want to sit next to Spencer inside the Dolby Theatre. Why? Because she’s clearly the friendliest A-lister around, always quick with a wave and a grin for the throngs of fans lining the carpet.
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Williams’s go-to stance is a lot like the star herself—pretty, poised, and a little aw-shucks. We like that it gives us a good look at her many manis, rings, and envelope clutches too.