Oscar's red carpet swung into fashion action on Sunday ahead of the Academy Awards where several women including director Kathryn Bigelow and Sandra Bullock are favored to claim their share of Hollywood glory.
Vera Farmiga, nominated for best supporting actress playing a traveling businesswoman in "Up In the Air" wore a ruby red strapless gown from Marchesa with a dramatic ruffle.
Recording star Mariah Carey, who has a role in best film nominee "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," showed off a plunging neckline and much leg in her navy gown, joking that she feared a breeze might raise the bottom and make her look like the iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe.
"I love Marilyn but I was concerned about a Marilyn moment," she joked with reporters on the red carpet, all the while tinkering with the fabric that fluttered at her leg.
But after the red carpet ends, all eyes will be on the world's top film awards where Bigelow and her Iraq war film "The Hurt Locker" and her ex-husband James Cameron's hit adventure "Avatar" are front-runners for the year's best film.
Bigelow is widely expected to win the golden Oscar for best director and make history as the first woman to win that award in the 82 years of the Academy Awards.
"America's Sweetheart" Sandra Bullock is favored to earn her first Academy Award for best actress for her role as a strong mom in "The Blind Side" only one day after being given a worst actress "Razzie" by a group of Hollywood critics.
No performer -- male or female -- has ever been best and worst in 30 years of that dubious distinction.
If Bullock fails on Oscar night, pundits say the likely best actress is veteran Meryl Streep as trailblazing chef Julia Child in the culinary comedy "Julie & Julia."
If she takes the Academy Award in her record 16th nomination, Streep will be just one victory short of legendary Katharine Hepburn, who had four Oscars in her lifetime, more than any man or woman.
BEST FILM DRAMA
Comedian Mo'Nique has claimed almost every supporting actress honor in sight for her dramatic turn as an abusive mother in "Precious: Based On the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire," and she is favored at the Oscars, too.
Jeff Bridges seems to be a lock for best actor as a drunken singer in "Crazy Heart" and Christoph Waltz is favored for supporting actor as a menacing Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds." Both have claimed numerous other awards for their work.
Yet, even with the acting categories all but sewn up, Oscar watchers say some drama remains in the top race for best film.
As Hollywood's award season has played out since December, Bigelow and her reality-fueled "Hurt Locker" have trumped Cameron and his effects-filled "Avatar" at nearly every event.
But in the past two weeks, "Hurt Locker" began seeing some unsavory headlines after producer Nicolas Chartier was caught campaigning for best film by disparaging "Avatar," causing the Academy to banish him from Sunday's ceremony.
At private Hollywood parties, there have been whispers that the 5,800 Oscar voters may prefer "Avatar" with its $2.5 billion at global box offices, compared to about $20 million for "Hurt Locker."
"We thought we were going to make some money but not nearly as much as we did," Cameron said on the red carpet.
As important, some Oscar watchers think a preferential voting system and 10 best film nominees for the first time since 1943, could cause the front-runners to split the vote and allow "Inglourious Basterds" or "Precious" to claim the award.
And if the drama around the night's biggest award fails to prove exciting, producers brought in Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin as co-hosts to turn up the laughter.