Best Oscars Hairstyles Through The Years

The Oscars are about fashion and style every bit as much as they are about celebrating the cinematic arts. Before all the ‘Best of Oscars 2016…’ lists start popping up all over the Internet, I thought it’d be fun to check out five of the prettiest hairstyles from previous ceremonies. Here’s what the stars have brought to the most hallowed of red carpets over the last few years.

Best Oscars Hairstyles
Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/ WireImage/ Getty Images

2006 Michelle Williams

I love Michelle Williams for making pixie haircuts beautiful again. Michelle’s vintage-inspired canary yellow Vera Wang gown is the stuff Oscars’ legends are made of. A decade later, the iconic yellow outfit/red lip pairing continues to hold sway as one of the beauty trends of all time. Michelle’s hair was perfectly styled into a side bun, the soft waves channeling some serious Old Hollywood glamour.

Side buns, though a staple at all formal events, can be a little tricky to pull off because we’re so used to symmetry that the hairstyle can sometimes look a little severe. However, a perfect solution to that little conundrum is to offset the structure with face-framing bangs favoring the other side. Michelle’s carefully crafted, brow-skimming side bangs added just the right amount of balance to the look, without upstaging the glorious side bun. The overall effect? Equal parts vintage and current.

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams wearing an elegant side bun at the Oscars in 2006. Photo Credit: Chris Polk/ FilmMagic/ Getty Images

2010 Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock’s sleek, straight hairstyles are instantly recognizable and she tends to favor the texture above all else. Why mess with perfection, right? Sandra Bullock’s hairstyle from the 2010 Academy Awards made for an interesting take on her signature look: while still sleek and straight, her hair was styled with a hint of volume at the crown and a soft wave at the very ends. Think Old Hollywood again, but fresher and sassier.

Adding waves at the ends of a straight ‘do is a nifty way to add body and dimension to a hairstyle: it’s especially recommended if your hair tends to look a little flat when it’s straightened out. Her 2014 Golden Globes hair included some of the same styling elements – albeit straighter and finished off in a ponytail.

Sandra Bullock
Actress Sandra Bullock opted for a simple, romantic down hairstyle for the 2010 Oscars. Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/ Getty Images Entertainment/ Getty Images

2012 Gwyneth Paltrow

If Michelle Williams’ 2006 Oscar gown represented flirty femininity, Gwyneth Paltrow’s majestic white Tom Ford dress made the argument for structural cuts and unapologetic boldness. Not to forget, it sparked off the cape craze that continues to dominate global fashion till date. To complement her dress, Gwyneth’s hair was styled to reflect the lines of the outfit- parted deep on one side and gathered in a low ponytail at the nape of the neck.

The hairstyle is all about clean, classic lines and planes. You’re reminded of a glassy lake- capable of both perfect stillness and unbroken movement.

Admittedly, ponytails can sometimes be tricky in terms of how glamorous they can look. We’re so used to associating ponytails with every day, couldn’t-be-bothered-to-braid vibes that it is hard to imagine wearing one to a major event or occasion. The trick to making a ponytail-based hairstyle look ultra-fab is in getting the texture right. You need the glossiest, most mirror-like finish to be able to

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth opted for a sleep pony tail at the Oscars in 2012. Photo Credit: Lester Cohen/ WireImage/ Getty Images

2014 Emma Watson

Emma Watson is one of my favorite young style icons and she’s got an unparalleled knack for marrying adventurous fashions with classic sensibilities. It’s not every day that you can come off both poised and quirky, but Emma manages it with dizzying ease.

Her half-up/half-down hairstyle from the 2014 Oscars continues to be one of my favorite looks of all time. Back in the day, the ‘rock and roll ponytail’ topped my list of the best Oscars 2014 hairstyles.

I love a tousled, messy texture and it never fails to please me when we see it done right for a big event. And it really doesn’t get bigger than the Oscars. The twisted, coiled accents and side fringes keep the look youthful and spunky, while the volume at the crown adds that hit of glamour that you need at a formal gathering. The sparkly star-shaped barrettes amp up the look further. If you’re going for a sophisticated-yet-fun vibe, I do recommend keeping with classic makeup choices like Emma here: it helps even out the various elements while letting them shine through individually.

Best Oscars Hairstyles - Hair Accessories
Emma Watson wore a tousled half-up hairstyle at the Oscars in 2014. Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/ WireImage/ Getty Images

2014 Lupita Nyong’o

Much as is the case with ponytails and tousled textures, headbands can be hard to work for formal events. There’s something so intrinsically girlish and relaxed about hairbands that they tend to take away from a formal hairdo. But fashion superstar (and acting powerhouse) Lupita Nyong’o proves that there is a way to make these hair accessories look right with dressy outfits. Keep the rest of your look as sophisticated and classic as you can and play up your best features: by keeping the other aspects of your look classic and natural, you help offset the accessory while using it to add a touch of fun.

Lupita’s 2014 Oscars hair was all about celebrating natural beauty – of course, it does help if you’re basically the most perfect iteration of human beauty that ever was.

When it comes to hair and beauty trend spotting, the Oscars never disappoint.

Lupita Nyong'o - Oscar Hair Accessories
Lupita Nyong’o arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards – Dan MacMedan/WireImage / Getty Image
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