By Alexandra Fullerton
It is true that without the films, the Oscars could not take place.
However, it is arguable that the red carpet arrivals - and more specifically what the stars are wearing - have eclipsed the gongs themselves.
At the 80th Academy Awards in Los Angeles the A-list arrivals opted for an array of show-stopping gowns for the most glamorous occasion in the film industry's calendar.
The Oscars are one of the only events where full-length gowns are appropriate and expected.
This year the majority of stars opted for floor-grazing gowns, with only Julie Christie bucking the trend in a knee-length frock.
Her pink suede gloves, which clashed with her maroon taffeta dress, were one of the few off-notes in an otherwise exemplary red carpet showing.
The battle for biggest colour of the night was fought out by black and red.
Jennifer Garner, Hilary Swank and Penelope Cruz chose dresses in the former shade, while Dame Helen Mirren, Heidi Klum and Miley Cyrus opted to be scarlet women for the evening.
Garner's jet-black Oscar de la Renta gown, which was put together by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, was a deceptively simple strapless number.
The tight bandaged bodice ended in layers of intricate ruched tiers, while her necklace, from Van Cleef and Arpels, included a jaw-dropping 61 carat of diamonds.
Anne Hathaway presented the award for best animated feature
Swank also opted for the serious shade in a one-shouldered Versace frock, dotted with rosettes and finished in a modest train.
As one of the catwalk's biggest trends, feathers were bound to turn up on some stylish stars at the ceremony.
Having chosen a feather-heavy dress for last year's awards, Cruz was obviously a fan of the tickly detail.
This year she chose a glamorous fishtail gown overloaded with tulle, ruching and feathers.
Pregnant Jessica Alba also picked a frock with a flurry of feathers from Marchesa.
The plum shade complemented her olive skin, while her plaited hair and gold hoop earrings from Cartier added a Grecian feel to her look.
Marchesa, a British label, is a new red carpet favourite and is designed by Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, and Keren Craig.
Anne Hathaway, who attended to present an award, also picked a show-stopping scarlet frock from the brand.
It was covered with intricate floral rosettes which climbed over her shoulder with Grecian-inspired draping.
Tilda Swinton took the gong for best supporting actress
Adding a touch of old-school Hollywood sparkle to the proceedings was Renee Zellweger, in a silver sequined sheath and vintage diamond Cartier brooches.
The strapless dress by Carolina Herrera, a red carpet favourite for the actress, was daringly split to the thigh revealing more than a sliver of Zellweger's legs.
Best actress nominee Marion Cotillard also shone in a sequin-encrusted dress.
The French star always picks a Gallic label for her red carpet appearances and eschewed recent favourite Chanel for a Jean-Paul Gaultier gown.
The fishtail shape and white pearlised sequins, embroidered in a pattern reminiscent of fish-scales, made her look like a mermaid.
If you were looking for tips for dressing a baby bump, then this year's Oscar's provided a masterclass, with empire-line shapes proving to be most flattering.
Mum-to-be Cate Blanchett wore a navy satin gown from Belgian designer Dries Van Noten - a leftfield choice for red carpet dressing - while Nicole Kidman, also pregnant, diverted attention from her bump with a cascading diamond necklace.
Amy Adams, nominated twice in the music categories, looked stunning in a forest-green double-faced satin gown by hip New York duo Proenza Schouler.
Their signature sculpted-bust detailing looked modern and fresh alongside the deep green shade.
Accessorised with a miniature gold bag from Fred Leighton, Adams admitted there was actually nothing in it.
Cate Blanchett showed how to grace the red carpet whilst pregnant
Cameron Diaz, who presented the best cinematographer award, wore a sugar-pink Christian Dior gown, but cleverly avoided slipping into saccharine territory with the addition of some edgy origami-style pleats.
Topped off with Bulgari jewels she looked cool and relaxed on the red carpet.
At the Oscars there is always a dress that divides the critics into "love it" or "hate it" camps.
This year's best supporting actress, Tilda Swinton, seems to have taken that honour.
Her jet black dress was an on-trend one-sleeve style from Lanvin.
Daring and fashion-forward, it proved to be a refreshing change from the sea of safe strapless gowns that paraded down the theatre carpet, but drew harsh comments from critics for resembling a "garbage bag".
Considering the awards were nearly a no-go owing to the writers' strike, red carpet watchers across the world can breathe a sigh of relief.
After all, it would have been a shame for all of those dresses to remain in the wardrobes of the A-list, would it not?