The Oscar Nod: 12 Best Hairstyles

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The Oscar Nod: 12 Best Hairstyles
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The red carpet experience at the Oscars isn't only about the thousands of dollars worth of designer haute couture on show. Ignore the hair styling and you ignore the insufficiently lauded art and craft of complementing those beautiful gowns, and the women wearing them, with hair designs that add that final, perfect signature.

Rooney Mara
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Rooney Mara

Nominated for her edgy performance as Lisbet Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," Rooney Mara pushed back against conventional style with an updo that reflected her individuality. Her hair looked more sculpted than styled, with sleek bangs and a perfectly shaped bun, complementing the delicate lines of her face. Mara's striking hair matched the deceptively simple lines and cut of her gown, and she carried off the whole look beautifully.

Glenn Close
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Glenn Close

Glenn Close could have gone for a sleek, severe hairstyle to match her exquisitely tailored gown, but her decision to go with the softly styled, informal structured effect paid off in huge ways. What we saw was Glenn the woman -- supremely elegant but with a fun, girlish side who can step away from the roles she plays and be herself with confidence, style and self-assurance.

Viola Davis
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Viola Davis

Viola Davis, nominated for her role as Aibileen Clark in "The Help," revealed that she deliberately chose not to wear a hairpiece or go for an elaborate style, wanting instead to be seen for herself and for her hair to reflect who she is: the real Viola Davis. "I wanted to be bold about who I am," she said. The no-nonsense, neat simplicity of her hair complemented the sleek geometric lines of her dress, showing us a supremely confident and magnificent woman.

Huffington Post: Viola Davis Oscars Dress 2012 (video)

Penelope Cruz
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Penelope Cruz

Don't we all love the glamorous vintage Hollywood look? Penelope Cruz, who co-presented the Oscar for best original score, was resplendent in Armani couture, her hair in a classic, side-parted, softly styled finger wave reminiscent of the Hollywood of the 50s. Just look at that luxurious dark hair: perfect against those fabulous platinum and diamond earrings and necklace, and the periwinkle blue of her gown.

Makeup For Life: Celebrity Hair & Makeup -- Penelope Cruz at 2012 Oscars

Rose Byrne
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Rose Byrne

Rose Byrne complemented the sleek lines and silkiness or her Vivienne Westwood gown with a smooth, shining bob that just grazed her shoulders and wowed the media. "Grazia" wondered aloud if Rose's casually sophisticated hairstyle was a hint of the future trend in less formal Oscars hairstyles; certainly a severe updo would have looked all wrong with this gown, and the style pulled her look together with its artful simplicity.

Grazia: Rose Byrne's Oscars Hair! Is This The End of Oscars Up-Dos?

Jen Lilley
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Jen Lilley

Actress Jen Lilley, who was featured in best picture nominee "The Artist," went for a soft updo that perfectly mirrored the elegant asymmetrical neckline of her gown. Side-parted and loosely caught at the back, the right side of her hair was clipped back gently to give a hint of artful disorder. With the sides curled loosely to provide some movement, the pretty style suited her face.

Charity Shea
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Charity Shea

For her attendance at the 20th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party, actress Charity Shea went for an updo with a difference. Keeping the pleat at the nape of her neck, and wisping her bangs across her forehead, the look was formal and sophisticated but retained a lovely softness. Too formal and her hairstyle would have looked severe against her tailored black gown; this style struck the perfect balance.

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Meryl Streep could wear a plastic bag on her head and carry it off. Luckily for us, however, she simply swept her hair up loosely into a chic pleat at the back, with a graceful wing of hair framing her face to one side. She's worn this style before, of course, but this time it was softer to complement the folds of that gorgeous gown. Here she is with her beloved husband, sculptor Don Gummer, just before she accepted her Oscar for best actress in "The Iron Lady."

Celebrity Daily: Don Gummer is Meryl Streep's Husband

Jessica Chastain
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Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain's fantastic gown, designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, was set off perfectly by the loosely tendrilled hairstyle she chose. There were faint echoes of medieval style to mirror the gown, with the hint of a circlet of hair pinned at the back. Here is Jessica with Viola Davis, congratulating Octavia Spencer, and you can see exactly how that subtle little twist suggests a specific design without looking at all contrived.

Michelle Williams
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Michelle Williams

There was something very sweet and vulnerable about Michelle Williams on Oscar night, which was appropriate given that she was a best actress nominee for her unnervingly accurate portrayal of the beautiful and fragile Marilyn Monroe. Her look was soft and elegant, her hair suggesting an impish, gamine quality behind the formality of the gorgeous gown. No artifice, no airs and no graces: she did Marilyn proud.

Torrey DeVitto
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Torrey DeVitto

The detail in "Vampire Diaries" actress Torrey DeVitto's hairstyle was beautifully handled; the tiny wisps, curls and hint of subtle mussiness mirrored the pretty lace detail on her gown's bodice. Little extra details included the small splashes of deep pink lipstick and earrings that drew attention to her dark eyes and hair, a dramatic contrast that she carried well.

Octavia Spencer
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Octavia Spencer

Actress Octavia Spencer, who took home the Oscar for her supporting role in "The Help," has such grace in both her personality and her style. We've all seen that dream of a dress with its glittering starburst, but look at how beautifully she carried its elegant lines through to the design of her hair. Smooth, sleek and chic, her hair was swept up and away from her face into a chignon at the back, with bangs swept to one side to complement her face. Classy lady, classy style.

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