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Oscars best actress winners: 86 years of red carpet dresses

by Courtney Gisriel /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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The Oscars are just around the corner and that can only mean one thing — the hottest red carpet of the year is almost here! The award ceremony has been the site of so many iconic fashion moments and the stars who have taken home the trophy for best actress never fail to inspire envy in some of the most glamorous dresses imaginable.

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Take a look back at nearly a century of best actress winners and the gowns they wore for their big night.

2017: Emma Stone

Emma Stone Oscars red carpet 2017
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Emma Stone took a cue from flappers with this gold, fringe-covered number in 2017 for her role in "La La Land."

2016: Brie Larson

Brie Larson Oscars 2016
Brie Larson poses on the red carpet before taking home the Oscar for her performance in "Room."Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Brie Larson took home the gold for her role in "Room" wearing a royal blue Gucci dress. She accessorized the pleated gown with a large, pearl-encrusted belt and matching earrings.

2015: Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore Oscars 2015
Julianne Moore joyously displays her award for best actress in 2015.Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Julianne Moore chose a stunning Chanel design for her big night. The white column gown was covered in sequins and featured black and white floral appliques ... not unlike those on Olivia de Havilland's dress from 1950. As they say in fashion, everything that's old is new again!

2014: Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett Oscars 2014
Cate Blanchett speaks on stage after she winning best actress for her work in 'Blue Jasmine."LUCY NICHOLSON / Reuters

The statuesque actress looked like she had stepped out of a fairy tale in this nude Armani Prive design. The gown features intricate floral embellishments all throughout the bodice and skirt for a magical effect.

2013: Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence Oscars 2013
Jennifer Lawrence accepts the best actress award for "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2013.Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence stepped out in a gorgeous Dior gown featuring a strapless neckline and large mermaid silhouette at the hem. It's the kind of couture creation any girl would dream of wearing, but the large skirt caused Lawrence to trip on her way up to accepting the award. At least she was able to laugh it off and look great doing it!

2012: Meryl Streep

84th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
Meryl Streep matches her statuette in metallic gold. Jason Merritt / Getty Images

The incomparable Meryl Streep took home her third Oscar playing Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" in 2012. The star took home the award while wearing a golden wrap-style dress from Lanvin.

2011: Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman Oscars 2011
Natalie Portman poses while pregnant at the Oscars in 2011.Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Natalie Portman took home the Oscar for her work in "Black Swan" and looked stunning in a purple gown from fashion-forward brand, Rodarte. The elegant neckline accentuated her growing baby bump!

2010: Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock Oscars 2010
Sandra Bullock took home the Oscar for her performance in "The Blind Side."Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Sandra Bullock was radiant in Marchesa for her big night! The star chose a metallic gown with a sheer bodice and a figure-hugging skirt with a small train. A bold pink lip added some color to the monochromatic look.

2009: Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet Oscars 2009
Kate Winslet poses at the Academy Awards in 2009.Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Kate Winslet took home her first Oscar in 2009 for her work in "The Reader," and she looked absolutely regal in this slate grey, one-shoulder gown.

2008: Marion Cotillard

Marion Cotillard Oscars 2008
Actress Marion Cotillard poses in the press room during the 80th annual Academy Awards.Vince Bucci / Getty Images

Marion Cotillard looked like an Art Deco mermaid in the unbelievable Jean Paul Gaultier gown she wore to the 2008 Oscars. This stunning look cemented her spot as one of Hollywood's most glamorous ingenues.

2007: Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren Oscars 2007
Helen Mirren took home the Oscar for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."Vince Bucci / Getty Images

In 2007, Helen Mirren took home the gold in a gilded gown by Christian Lacroix. The dress featured a flowing chiffon skirt and an intricately beaded bodice.

2006: Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon Oscars 2006
Reese Witherspoon arrives at the Oscars red carpet in 2006.Getty Images

When Reese Witherspoon took home her Oscar for "Walk the Line," she wore a vintage gown from Christian Dior. The actress told InStyle that she still has the stunning gown but she doesn't see herself wearing it again. "Maybe (my daughter) Ava will — it would make a pretty wedding dress." We can't agree more!

2005: Hillary Swank

Hillary Swank Oscars 2005
Hillary Swank shows off the back of her stunning gown at the 77th annual Academy Awards.Vince Bucci / Getty Images

One year earlier, Hillary Swank embraced the exposed back trend in a navy Guy Laroche gown. The plunging back was unquestionably one of the most talked about gowns of the evening.

2004: Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron Oscars 2004
Charlize Theron steps out on the Oscars red carpet in 2004.Getty Images

After her nearly unrecognizable performance in "Monster," Charlize Theron stepped out onto the red carpet looking like the stunning movie star she is. Theron wore a body-hugging Gucci gown embellished with delicate beading and an open back.

2003: Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman Oscars 2003
Nicole Kidman poses with her best actress Oscar at the 75th annual Academy Awards.Getty Images

Nicole Kidman took home the Oscar for her work in "The Hours" and wore a simple Jean Paul Gaultier gown with asymmetrical straps. She paired the look with delicate chandelier earrings.

2002: Halle Berry

Halle Berry Oscars 2002
Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to take home the best actress Oscar for her work in "Monster's Ball."Getty Images

Halle Berry's monumental best actress win is just as memorable as the dress she wore when accepting the Oscar. She chose an Elie Saab gown that was completely sheer to the waist, except for a large, strategically placed floral applique at the bust.

2001: Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts Oscars 2001
Julia Roberts wore vintage to take home the best actress Oscar for her role in "Erin Brockovich"WireImage

In 2001, Julia Roberts made the unique decision to wear a vintage Valentino gown. It was a trendsetting move that sparked plenty of followers in the years to come.

2000: Hillary Swank

Hillary Swank Oscars 2000
Hilary Swank took home her first Oscar in 2000 for her role in "Boys Don't Cry."WireImage

For the first Academy Awards ceremony of the new millennium, Hillary Swank wore an olive green, drop-waist gown and an insanely gorgeous diamond necklace that delicately rested over her decolletage for an elegant effect.

1999: Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow Oscars 1999
Looking pretty as a princess, Gwyneth Paltrow holds the award she won for her work in "Shakespeare in Love."WireImage

Gwyneth Paltrow's striking pink Ralph Lauren gown was an instant classic. The slicked-back chignon and delicate choker necklace completed the princess-worthy look.

1998: Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt Oscars 1998
Helen Hunt took home the award for her performance in "As Good as it Gets."ASSOCIATED PRESS

Helen Hunt also chose a simple silhouette for the awards show. She wore an ice blue Gucci gown with a matching shawl. Her pulled-back hairstyle further accentuated the sleek, modern vibe of the look.

1997: Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand Oscars 1997
Frances McDormand poses with her Oscar for "Fargo."ASSOCIATED PRESS

Frances McDormand wore a monchromatic look for the 1997 Oscars. She wore a cobalt satin gown with an empire waist and simple straps to pick up the Academy Award for her work in "Fargo."

1996: Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon Oscars 1996
Susan Sarandon smiles for photographers backstage.AP

In a departure from the minimalist gowns from the previous years, Susan Sarandon decided to go all out for the 1996 Oscars. She wore a silk Dolce and Gabbana ballgown in a bronze color.

1995: Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange Oscars 1995
Jessica Lange chose a Calvin Klein number for the 67th annual Academy Awards.WireImage

A year earlier, Jessica Lange took home the award for her work in "Blue Sky." She wore a black Calvin Klein dress with sheer overlay that featured a pattern of leaves across her chest and arms.

1994: Holly Hunter

Holly Hunter Oscars 1994
Holly Hunter accepts the award for best actress onstage. AP

In 1994, Holly Hunter was nominated in both the best actress and best supporting actress categories. She took home the statuette for best actress and wore a sophisticated Vera Wang creation for the event.

1993: Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson Oscars 1993
Emma Thompson poses with the Oscar she won for her performance in "Howard's End."ASSOCIATED PRESS

Emma Thompson went with a monochromatic look for her big night. She chose an emerald gown from designer Caroline Charles. The dress featured a chiffon skirt and an all-sequin bodice that the actress paired with shoes in the same bold hue.

1992: Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster Oscars 1992
Jodie Foster shows off her second Oscar win.ASSOCIATED PRESS

Just three years after taking home her first Oscar, Jodie Foster won again in 1992 and chose a demure outfit for the occasion. She wore a white Armani tuxedo jacket with shimmering pants and white gloves.

1991: Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates Oscars 1991
Hello, shoulder pads! Kathy Bates raises up the Oscar she won for her performance in "Misery."AP

In 1991, Kathy Bates wore a velvet Donna Karan number to pick up her big award. The turtleneck dress came complete with big shoulder pads that were even further accentuated by beading throughout.

RELATED: Are shoulder pads back in style?

1989: Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster Oscars 1989
Jodie Foster at the 61st Annual Academy Awards.WireImage

Jodie Foster won her first Oscar in 1989 and chose a ruched dress with a high-low skirt and plenty of bustling at the back. The style seems like it would have been appropriate for both the young actress at the Academy Awards and a high schooler on her way to prom.

1988: Cher

Cher Oscars 1988
In a dress that will never be forgotten, Cher shows off the Oscar she won for her role in "Moonstruck."AP

There's never been a more outrageous Oscars gown than the one worn by Cher in 1988. The Bob Mackie creation was almost entirely sheer save for some strategically placed beading. But the superstar didn't have to worry about being cold, because the elaborate design came with a matching velvet shawl.

1981: Sissy Spacek

Sissy Spacek Oscars 1981
Sissy Spacek poses with her Oscar backstage.Ron Galella / WireImage

Sissy Spacek accepted the best actress award for her role in "Coal Miner's Daughter" in 1981. For the big night she chose a jumpsuit with metallic threads woven throughout the sleeves and pants to create the illusion of stripes.

1980: Sally Field

SALLY FIELD oscars 1980
Sally Field accepts her award for best actress.ABC Photo Archives / ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Sally Field ushered in the '80s with big hair and a simple but stunning dress. The cocktail dress featured a floral tulle laid over a body-hugging white dress.

1979: Jane Fonda

JANE FONDA Oscars 1979
Jane Fonda poses in a flowy gown after receiving her Academy Award.ABC Photo Archives / ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

In 1979, Jane Fonda took home the Oscar for "Coming Home" and wore a paisley patterned dress for the occasion. The column gown with bell sleeves was also embroidered with sequins throughout for an added touch of sparkle.

1978: Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton Oscars 1978
Diane Keaton in her signature tomboy style backstage after accepting her Oscar for best actress.Ron Galella / WireImage

Diane Keaton was channeling her Oscar winning character, "Annie Hall," at the 50th Annual Academy Awards. Instead of opting for a gown, she chose a long skirt and an over-sized linen blazer paired with a buttoned up shirt and a scarf. It might not have been the obvious red carpet choice, but it certainly was a memorable one!

1969: Barbara Streisand

Barbara Streisand Oscars 1969
Barbara Streisand at the 41st annual Academy Awards. She's said that the sheer effect of her suit was a surprise.ABC Photo Archives / ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Barbara Streisand chose between two very different outfits for the 1969 Oscars and ultimately went with a sheer, sequined pantsuit with a peter pan collar. She said in a recent interview that she didn't realize it would become sheer when the lights hit it and she intended on staying more conservative for the event. We're glad she didn't, because the bold look has now become iconic!

RELATED: Oscars 2017: And the Academy Award nominations go to...

1968: Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Oscars 1967
Elizabeth Taylor with her second best actress Oscar.Mirrorpix / Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Elizabeth Taylor took home the Oscar in 1968 and her gown for the occasion was extra ornate! She chose a sequin shift dress with feather adorned cuffs. She paired the bold dress with even more bold jewels for an over-the-top, amazing look.

1966: Julie Christie

Julie Christie Oscars 1966
Julie Christie holds the Oscar she won as best actress for "Darling."Anonymous / AP

Just a year earlier, the shifting fashions of the decade played out onstage when Julie Christie took home the gold while wearing an iridescent gold turtleneck gown with mod-style hoop earrings. Perhaps the most surprising part of Christie's look was the fact that she made the dress herself!

1965: Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews Oscars 1965
Julie Andrews poses with her Oscar.Bettmann Archive

Julie Andrews wore an empire-waist gown when she won her Oscar for playing Mary Poppins. The stunning star paired the look with long white gloves and a bib-style necklace.

1961: Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Oscars 1961
Elizabeth Taylor poses with Bob Hope (center), Peter Ustinov, Shirley Jones and Burt Lancaster after winning the Oscar for her work in "Butterfield 8."ASSOCIATED PRESS

Elizabeth Taylor did not hold back in this dramatic Christian Dior gown. The soft yellow bodice and and white skirt are accented by a silk ribbon belt with a large floral applique.

1960: Simone Signoret

Simone Signoret Oscars 1960
French actress Simone Signoret with the best actress Oscar she took home for her work in "Room at the Top."Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

In 1960, Simone Signoret chose a black gown made of Swiss-dot textured fabric that delicately draped over the shoulders for an elegant look. She accessorized the dress with a long diamond brooch at the waist.

1959: Susan Hayward

Susan Hayward Oscars 1959
Susan Hayward poses happily with her Oscar after being named best actress.Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

In 1959, Susan Hayward took home the Oscar in another dark dress. Hayward's gown featured delicate straps and was accessorized with dazzling pearl and diamond earrings. The gown was remarkably similar to the one worn by Joanne Woodward a year earlier.

1958: Joanne Woodward

JOANNE WOODWARD Oscars 1958
Joanne Woodward holds her Oscar.ASSOCIATED PRESS

Joanne Woodward took home the gold for her role in "The Three Faces of Eve" in 1958. The actress chose a strapless silk gown with dark floral appliques strategically placed throughout the skirt.

1955: Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly 1955 Oscars best actress
Grace Kelly took home the award for her role in "The Country Girl."Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection / Everett Col

Though she wasn't yet Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly exuded Hollywood royalty in this mint silk gown designed by Edith Head.

1954: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn Oscars 1954
Audrey Hepburn won best actress for her role in "Roman Holiday."AP

he style icon was picture perfect in a white Givenchy gown at the 1954 Academy Awards. The actress had an affinity for Givenchy's style after the design house costumed her for "Sabrina." So when it came time to choose a dress for the Oscars, she went with a boat-necked number with floral embroidery and a belted waist.

1950: Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland Oscars 1950
Olivia De Havilland accepts her award for best actress onstage.Anonymous / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Olivia de Havilland took home her second Oscar for her role in "The Heiress" wearing a beautiful white gown that was embellished with black and white floral appliques and matching white gloves.

RELATED: No 'thank you'? Oscars try to put an end to long acceptance speeches

1949: Jane Wyman

Johnny Belinda
Jane Wyman holds her Oscar backstage at the awards show.Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Actress Jane Wyman chose a white, drop-waist gown with a mock turtleneck collar. She kept her accessories very minimal save for a delicate choker.

1945: Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman And Jennifer Jones Oscars 1945
Ingrid Bergman, right, received the Oscar for her role in "Gaslight."Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Ingrid Bergman's demure look at the awards ceremony in 1945 was a departure from the more ornate gowns of Oscars past. She chose a dark skirt paired with a dark blouse that had very little adornment.

1941: Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers Jimmy Stewart Oscars 1941
Ginger Rogers and Jimmy Stewart hold the Oscars they won for best actress and best actor.ASSOCIATED PRESS

Four years earlier, Ginger Rogers had chosen a daring sheer dress with a lace bodice for the Oscars. We could imagine this sultry style gracing the red carpet today! She pulled her hair back into a half-up style and accessorized it with white floral accents.

1940: Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh Oscars 1940
Vivien Leigh took home the Oscar for playing Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind."Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

In 1940, Vivien Leigh wore a pleated gown that featured a tropical flower pattern. She paired the look with a long pendant and shoulder-length curls.

RELATED: The 10 most outrageous Oscar moments you — and the internet — have forgotten about

1939: Bette Davis

Bette Davis Oscars 1939
Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis accept their awards for best actor and best actress at the 11th Annual Academy Awards.John Kobal Foundation / Getty Images

Bette Davis took home the award for her work in "Jezebel." She wore a unique dress that featured a collar of long white feathers attached to a dark tulle gown. Talk about glamorous!

1930: Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer Oscar 1930
Norma Shearer accepts the best actress award for her role in "The Divorcee."Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Norma Shearer was the third woman to take home the Oscar for best actress in 1930. For the occasion, she wore a silky dress accessorized with a cropped jacket featuring fur-trimmed sleeves. The movie star wore her hair in finger-wave style that was seriously trendy at the time.

After looking back at the last 80 years of Oscar gowns it’s safe to say that nothing’s off limits and we can't wait to see what the newest best actress winner wears this year!

This article was originally published on Feb. 3, 2017 on TODAY.com.

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