It is commonly accepted that Hollywood is like high school, and if that’s true, then summer classes are more important here than anywhere else: Short of the awards season, celebrities are rarely so visible as they are during summer blockbuster movie season, and their suitcases rarely so full. In the back-to-school spirit, we’ve prepped red-carpet report cards for the globe-trotting stars of 2012’s summer tentpoles. Because, be it Emma Stone or Channing Tatum or Scarlett Johansson, someone’s going to wind up being this summer’s sartorial Valedictorian, and someone (spoiler: ScarJo) will land in fashion detention.
Movie(s): The Amazing Spider-ManContext: America’s sweetheart, on the road with her sweetheart (co-star Andrew Garfield). No pressure at all.
Highlight(s): It helps that Emma Stone is the highlight of America’s current crop of young actresses, because her natural charm can push a questionable outfit (like her white Chanel frock) into the win column. She’s also aces at more casual photocalls — that white jean/leather top pairing is particularly crisp.
Lowlight(s): Both the dirndl-esque Dolce & Gabbana tapestry monstrosity and her goth lace Gucci are itchy-looking missteps. Brave, yes, but also — if we may be very technical about it — super-crazy weird.
Attitude: Miss Congeniality. Emma never seems to resent the grind, get tired, or be anything other than delighted. Especially with her beau.
Overall grade:B+. In school parlance, Emma shows great capacity for high achievement, and we look forward to having her in class this fall.
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Movie(s):Snow White and the Huntsman, The AvengersContext: Chris is so beefcake he makes Channing Tatum look like Milhouse. It can be hard to dress that, especially when you have a new baby and are so tired you can’t see through your flaxen tresses.
Highlight(s): His biceps. Oh, wait, on the red carpet? Of all those summer grey suits; his well-tailored look at the Tribeca Film Festival was a dapper standout.
Lowlight(s): He may unbutton his shirts a notch too far, but perhaps his pecs simply cannot be contained. We are also not thrilled with the ponytail, but it’s for Thor 2 and thus non-negotiable, plus he seems to be wrangling it with dignity.
Attitude: Hemsworth seems remarkably calm and self-possessed for a man adding two screaming kids to his family (the baby, and Miley Cyrus).
Overall grade:B. Monochromatic, but he missed a few events to help out with his wife and tiny, snuggly daughter, which earns him extra credit.
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Movie(s): Snow White and the HuntsmanContext: Well. In retrospect, this press tour just got a whole lot more awkward, didn’t it?
Highlight(s): For Twilight, Kristen generally opts for mini-dresses, the shorter the better. So it was refreshing to see her experiment with length here. This red plaid Derek Lam gave her polished maturity without any stuffiness, and the embroidered Balmain two-piece is unusual in a good way.
Lowlight(s): The modified naughty-schoolgirl aura of that Stella McCartney is just too creepy now that we know she hooked up with her older, married principal — er, boss. And a whopping thumbs down to the black lace Marchesa, which looks like fungus growing in the folds of a shower curtain.
Attitude: Compared to her usual sourface, Kristen seemed generally composed, despite the fraught emotional scenario. Maybe she can act.
Overall grade: C+. Nothing was exceptionally fabulous. And the Marchesa, like the one test she didn’t study for, dragged down her average.
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Movie(s):Snow White and the Huntsman, PrometheusContext: Theron got snubbed at most award shows this year. This was a good chance to show us what we missed.
Highlight(s): That strapless blue Dior has qualities that we’ve dinged on other dresses … but dammit if it doesn’t look resplendent on her. Excuse us while we cry into a pile of Hostess treats.
Lowlight(s): The seedy underbelly of the Dior spectrum: That black dress looks like she put on a pair of granny panties, coated herself in spray adhesive, and let people fire tulle guns at her. Did she and Stewart each lose a bet to the other?
Attitude: Besides that anomaly, Theron trusted her inherent Charlizeness and kept everything, even her hair, very simple. Why mess with what works? As in, her DNA.
Overall Grade:B. Seriously, that black Huntsman gown felt like she came to the party in character.
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Movie(s):Total RecallContext: We called it The Jessica Biel Is Getting Married Tour, given that when she wasn’t wearing white, she was wearing a bridesmaid’s dress.
Highlight(s): That backless Elie Saab halter number is pure bombshell, and believe it or not, we don’t hate the crazy feathered Giambattista Valli with the orange shoes. Yes, it’s white again, but it’s also Bjorkian fun. Finally.
Lowlight(s): Everything else was bland and/or bridal — too mumsy and prim for a young knockout. Also, kid, the bangs make you unrecognizable, which is only handy if you’re throwing an incognito wedding. Ooh, but that would be fun …
Attitude: Her biggest accessory was a grin: Biel was impressively cheery on an endless press junket for a tepidly received movie in which she is, reportedly, not very good.
Overall grade: D+. It’s a shame to dress her like her only identity is “fiancée,” when you could, you know, highlight that she’s her own independent famous person.
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Movie(s):Total RecallContext: She’s bigger on the poster than La Biel, but she’s also not engaged to Justin Timberlake, nor is she England’s most beloved Kate, so a girl’s got to make sure she’s still a headline.
Highlight(s): Beckinsale too frequently used to dress like a Prom queen suspended in time, so we enjoy that these are more daring, from hot-pink Donna Karan to neon Preen, to the funky reptilian Armani Prive that made her look like Slytherin’s hottest alumna.
Lowlight(s): The bow on this black gown evokes Sarah Ferguson’s head circa 1988 — perhaps not the royal to emulate right now. And her white and cream outfit was a letdown when you consider how stunning it was on the runway in black and white. She easily could’ve pulled that off, and left the boring beige to Biel.
Attitude: “Jessica who? Pish.”
OverallGrade: A-. She overshadowed the future Mrs. Timberlake.
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Movie(s): The Dark Knight RisesContext: We don’t imagine Anne dreamed a dream of having to promote this with her Les Mis pixie cut and wan frame, but she had to Tim Gunn it (read: make it work) anyway.
Highlight(s): A funny thing happened on the way to hating her hair: We ended up liking it. How cute is she in this close-up?
Lowlight(s): All the rest of it. The bridal white Prabal looks glued on (which it might be), and the makeup somehow fights with the coif. On Letterman, she was a mortarboard with legs. And even the faeries of myth are looking at that Gucci and going, “Child, please.”
Attitude: Is it our imagination, or did she occasionally seem nervous?
SpecialCircumstances: This press tour was correctly cut short for tragic, unforeseen reasons, so we never saw what else she had on tap.
OverallGrade: D+. We like curves of all kinds, but we don’t grade on them.
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Movie(s): Magic Mike, 21 Jump StreetContext: This guy went from someone Hollywood was trying so hard to make happen to a bona fide movie star in the span of about three weeks. All because of what us She’s The Man aficionados already knew: He’s secretly funny.
Highlight(s): For a dude whose life story inspired a movie about taking his clothes off, he looks pretty slick with them on, especially a well-tailored three-piece suit.
Lowlight(s): Dude. The off-center baseball cap has got to go.
Attitude: About to burst into a joyous and possibly half-naked dance, just the way we like him.
Overall grade: B+. Other than the aforementioned Hat Catastrophe, Tatum worked the red carpet nearly as well as the dance floor.
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Movie(s):The AvengersContext: Scarlett floundered a little before Iron Man 2, then had a long fallow period before reprising Black Widow in The Avengers, so she needed this press tour to remind us she still exists.
Highlight(s): … well, the architectural black Versace is decent on her?
Lowlight(s): … but everything else is boring, unflattering, or boring and unflattering.
Attitude: Considering that Scarlett is ostensibly the female lead in The Avengers, and The Avengers had a huge press push, you’d think she would have actually done, you know, some press for it.
Overall grade: F. Real talk, girl: Your last critically or financially successful movie that didn’t involve a catsuit was Vicky Christina Barcelona in 2008, and no one remembers you were in it. You have got to turn up the volume next time or everyone is going to start to suspect you’re wasting all your energy Googling paparazzi pics of Ryan Reynolds's and Blake Lively’s Connecticut house.
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Movie(s): The AvengersContext: This was the How I Met Your Mother star’s first time on the summer-movie stage — and (occasionally) next to Scarlett Johansson, a place we try never to stand.
Highlight(s): The leather pants she wore in the movie, frankly. But of the premiere ensembles, our fave is the simplest: that glorious orange Reem Acra, which somehow simultaneously knocks you out with its color and remains understated.
Lowlight(s): All those translucent bits cheapen the black Donna Karan. This mini-dress looks like it shrank. And we wish Cobie’s big-impact Alexandra Vidal didn’t match the red carpet — it blunts your statement when it looks like you’re wearing part of the floor, unless that statement is, “WALK ON ME.”
Attitude: Full marks for never once looking like a deer in the blogosphere’s crosshairs.
OverallGrade: B-. Wobbly in places, but we applaud her “go big or go home” approach, because who knows what will happen with Avengers 2. Enjoy it while it lasts, no?
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Movie(s):SavagesContext: It’s all about branding. Nobody wants to be Serena Van Der Woodsen forever. Even possibly Serena Van Der Woodsen.
Highlight(s): Lively used to flash enough simultaneous boob and leg that we (maturely) dubbed her Boobs Legsly. We may have to retire that nickname. Her black glittery Zuhair Murad strapless gown fits perfectly and is interesting, sexy, and tasteful — a significant achievement for both of them, considering he’s otherwise essentially known for BeDazzling J.Lo’s crotch for her world tours, and she … well, we mentioned the “Boobs Legsly” thing.
Lowlight(s): The Lanvin pants Blake wore on Fallon appear to gape intentionally in certain spots. Why would you want to look like a tailoring error?
Attitude: Sometimes she works it like she’s on an imaginary catwalk. Not necessarily a bad thing. And though the giant Katniss Everdeen braid leaves us cold, in general Lively has a knack for knowing when to unleash the hair.
Overall Grade: A-.Finally, she’s the fashion plate she may have thought she was all along.
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Movie(s):The Odd Life of Timothy GreenContext: This was Garner’s first press junket after having son Samuel several months ago.
Highlight(s): We suppose her day-time chat show frocks are cute enough, and the orange-red dress from the premiere is a good color on her …
Lowlight(s): … but none of them really lights the world on fire, either. Garner hasn’t lost all her baby weight (and good on her for being healthy about it), so perhaps she’s feeling the need to play it safe. But a kajillion women at exactly this totally normal size rock all kinds of bitchin’ outfits, which makes her wardrobe here feel like a failure of imagination.
Attitude: Garner always seems like a pro, even if the movie looks terrible.
Overall grade: C. We like Garner — the Alias goodwill is, like Sydney Bristow herself, freakishly strong — but these looks are inoffensive at best. She could, and should, do better.
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Movie(s): Rock of AgesContext: Hough still seems to be trying to shed her labels — namely, “Seacrest’s lady,” “that dancing girl,” and/or “Oh, was she in thatFootloose remake? Huh.”
Highlight(s): We appreciate that Julianne branched out from nude tones, but she looked the most relaxed and chic in the LBD and cute shoes from, amusingly, a radio appearance.
Lowlight(s): The yellow is brave, but the illusion netting spoiled it by appearing to cut into her skin (and her topknot belongs only at yoga class). The lone fluttery sleeve on the blue leather is a strange flourish. And Julianne’s London premiere outfit weirdly evokes black-tie Oktoberfest.
Attitude: She’s clearly trying for more edge, but it all feels a little “not a girl, not yet a woman” to us.
OverallGrade: C-. It’s better but we’re not inspired yet. Seacrest should shell out for Rachel Zoe.
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Movie(s):Rock of AgesContext: Hough’s steamy lapdance overshadowed Akerman’s role. Maybe a little red-carpet revenge was in order?
Highlight(s): Okay, if pressed, she looked fine in Sweden (if a tad stiffly demure), and we didn’t totally hate parts of the gold-embroidered Marchesa she wore to the London premiere …
Lowlight(s): … however, as with most Marchesa, we wish it had been edited — the sleeves look like something only prescription ointment can fix. And that death-defying Reem Acra is one hair away from inviting the world to be her gynecologist (the runway version was actually more modest). In fact, Malin was a bit all over the place — the only base she missed was “homeless,” and possibly “cloistered nun.”
Attitude: You don’t wear that much nudity or netting in public unless you are either incredibly confident, or incredibly confused about assimilating into civilization after a decade in the Blue Lagoon.
Overall Grade: D. This is a movie about the raucous eighties, so perhaps a little sartorial madness was in order? But in that case, maybe Malin didn’t go far enough (see: Josh Duhamel, who wasn’t even in the film).
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Movie(s): People Like Us, What To Expect When You’re ExpectingContext: Banks nailed her Hunger Games tour, then wore the night’s weirdest dress to the Met Ball. Tough acts to follow.
Highlight(s): Many stars ruin good outfits with dumb shoes, but Banks doesn't (this oxblood McQueen dress is enhanced by those funky pumps). We envy her confident daredevilry with patterns and colors; that zig-zag outfit by House of Holland is a particular delight. Sigh. Charlie Brown’s life could’ve been so different.
Lowlight(s): There’s daredevilry, and then there’s jumping your (fashion) motorcycle over the Grand Canyon: Is it just us, or does Elizabeth’s bright beaded Peter Piletto give her hips eyes? One’s groin should never look like a Guillermo Del Toro movie.
Attitude: Banks never slouches around in any of her clothes, nor betrays any nerves about them, which is to be applauded. But sometimes she’s too severe with hair. The ’do crowning her futuristic gold J. Mendel frock veers her into Sparkling Fembot territory.
OverallGrade: A-. Like another famous Banks — namely, Tyra — Elizabeth makes it fun for us to go to work. And we appreciate her for it.