Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, and More Stars Dazzle at Women in Film's 2016 Crystal + Lucy Awards

Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, and More Stars Dazzle at Women in Film's 2016 Crystal + Lucy Awards
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty; Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

“I saw Cate Blanchett on the red carpet and got a little star struck!” Lake Bell told InStyle as she entered L.A.’s Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom Wednesday evening for Women in Film’s 2016 Crystal + Lucy Awards, a Max Mara- and BMW-hosted showdown that this year packed a heavy A-list punch.

For Bell, who later texted in her donation to WIF, which raises funds for educational programs designed to uplift women in the entertainment industry, the evening was nothing short of motivating “It’s not a party night. It’s a thought-provoking night. I always leave very inspired and excited for now my little daughter to take on the world,” she told us.

So who were the women provoking change? The annual benefit gala honored Taraji P. Henson (The Lucy Award for Excellence in Television recipient), Natalie Dormer (The Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award recipient), and Homeland director Lesli Linda Glatter (The BMW Dorothy Arzner Directors Award recipient) for simply being exemplary and breaking new ground in their chosen field.

Blanchett, Claire Danes, and Kate Beckinsale all presented the awards to women that are very close to their hearts. Beckinsale got caught up in the moment before taking the stage to announce the eight honorees for The Crystal Award for Excellence in Film. “I get so excited when there’s a group of unbelievably talented, large group of unbelievable, talented women in a room supporting each other,” she told InStyle. “So when you get the chance to have them all in the room and actually feel the support they have for each other, it’s very empowering and makes you very hopeful that change can happen.”

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After descending through the long corridor post-red carpet, guests were escorted to their tables, each adorned with luxurious white hydrangeas and covered in rustic gold candles.  The fare called for a spring mixed salad with walnuts, grilled sesame soy chicken breast, and a smoked portobello "steak" pizza for vegetarians. “Nicola and I need wine now!” award recipient Natalie Dormer quipped backstage, referring to Nicola Maramotti, Max Mara's brand ambassador.

While Dormer and Henson each delivered tear-jerking speeches, red carpet pro Cate Blanchett jokingly urged her close friend and honoree Hylda Queally, The Sue Mengers Award recipient, to strike an over-the-shoulder pose and push her derriere out, which prompted some big laughs. “Hylda is not only the greatest agent in the business, she has the best legs in the business!” Blanchett told InStyle.

At her dinner table, the blonde star discreetly reapplied her lipstick and snuck out a mint Lifesaver from her clutch in preparation for her big, rousing speech. “I count myself blessed to be represented by you,” Blanchett told Queally as she begun.

After congratulating her longtime friend, Blanchett slipped into a pair of comfy black pants with a blazer suitable for her red-eye flight to the U.K. Just before the clock hit 10 o’clock, Henson also made an outfit change and opted for a more comfortable alternative to her heels. “I got these flats from these amazing women who made them in South Africa, but I don’t want to leave and forget my Jimmy Choos!”

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Scroll through to see each of the stars’ killer looks, plus their moving words. 

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