Isn’t she lovely: All eyes were on Oscars host Anne Hathaway as she arrived for the 83rd Academy Awards

Hollywood’s brightest stars are out in force for the industry’s night of nights – the Academy Awards.

More than a billion viewers around the world are expected to watch Hollywood’s royalty sashay down the red carpet tonight.

Anne Hathaway looked incredible in a figure hugging scarlet gown created for her by Valentino, who hovered around to ensure the gown didn’t burst.

‘I have a needle and thread in my pocket just in case,’ the designer told the Daily Mail.

Bold: The actress, who was styled by Rachel Zoe, wore a bold strapless dress by Valentino

Hathaway is set to make several costume changes tonight as she hosts the night’s event with James Franco.

Mila Kunis, whose film Black Swan is up for best picture, dazzled in a plunging Elie Saab haute couture dress.

Jennifer Hudson opted for a backless persimmon gown designed by Versace.

Melissa Leo a best supporting actress nominee for The Fighter said she felt ‘like a princess’ in a white and gold Mandarin cut dress designed for her by Marc Bauwer.

Best actress favourite: Pregnant Natalie Portman wore a dress by Rodarte, the tutu designers from Black Swan

Purple reign: Black Swan star Mila Kunis dazzled in a plunging Elie Saab haute couture dress

Melissa has been the front runner in the best supporting actress race but acknowledged that she ‘doesn’t have a crystal ball’ for the Oscars.

Michelle Williams, who is up for an Oscar for the film Blue Valentine, wore a white Chanel gown.

Asked if she would be drinking champagne at the pre show reception Michelle laughed and said ,’No, I’m having vodka’.

Bringing sexy back: Newly-single Scarlett Johansson opted for a lacy Dolce & Gabbana confection

Lovely in lilac: Cate Blanchett wore Givenchy haute couture

Cate Blanchett wore a lilac gown with a criss-crossed back adorned with lime gems.

Meanwhile, the mothers of James Franco, Jeremy Renner, Mark Wahlberg, Mark Ruffalo and other Oscar nominees are sharing their proud reactions to their childrens’ nominations through Twitter and on the official Oscar pre-show Sunday. Producers are calling them ‘mominees.’

‘It’s motherly insight into what their child was like growing up and where they ended up and their reaction to where they are today,” said Charlie Haykel, co-producer of ABC’s Oscar pre-show.

Sparkling: Best actress nominee Nicole Kidman in Christian Dior, Michelle Williams in Chanel and Tangled’s Mandy Moore, in Monique L’Hullier, is set to perform tonight

Trail blazers: Former best actress winners Hilary Swank, Gucci, and Halle Berry in Marchesa

‘We’re trying to make the whole Oscars more relatable… “Everybody’s got a mom and they always embarrass us.’

So far the ‘mominees’ revelations haven’t been too painful.

‘James was very curious about everything from the time he was born – had an amazing attention span,’ Franco’s mother, Betsy Franco, posted on Twitter.

‘I am proud of Matt couldn’t stop talking about it. Shared the news with my friend & co-workers,’ wrote Georgina Libatique, mother of Matthew Libatique, nominated for cinematography for Black Swan.

Flying the flag: Best actor nominee Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli and his King’s Speech co-star Helena Bonham Carter with husband Tim Burton

The official Oscar pre-show will also take viewers into the Governors Ball, the director’s truck, and the green room, where stars relax before taking the stage.

‘It’s the most glamorous night of the year in the world, and we’re allowing people into the inner sanctum,’ Haykel said.

‘The Kodak Theatre is the most exclusive place in the world on that night, and the green room is the most exclusive room inside the most exclusive place.’

Battling it out: The Fighter’s Melissa Leo, in Marc Bouwer, and her co-star Amy Adams, L’Wren Scott, are both up for best supporting actress

At tonight’s ceremony, The King’s Speech, dramatizing British monarch George VI’s struggle to vanquish a crippling stammer, leads the 83rd annual Oscars with 12 nominations and is favoured to win best picture.

Yet The Social Network, chronicling Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fierce legal battles over the spoils of his creation, remains a serious candidate for the Oscar crown.

The two films have led a strong and varied field of best-picture contenders since they debuted nearly six months ago.

Pretty in pink: True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld, in an embroidered tulle tea length dress by Machesa, is this year’s youngest best actress nominee at just 14

The Social Network was the early leader, grabbing key critics’ honors and winning best drama at the Golden Globes. Momentum shifted to The King’s Speech as the film dominated on Oscar nominations morning and swept top awards from influential actors, directors and producers guilds.

One Oscar forecast is certain: chilly weather for dolled-up stars promenading on the arrivals red carpet at the Kodak Theatre. Forecasts call for temperatures in the low 50s at show time, unusually crisp for Los Angeles.

Also up for best picture at the ceremony: the psychosexual thriller Black Swan; the boxing drama The Fighter; the sci-fi blockbuster Inception; the lesbian-family tale The Kids Are All Right; the survival chronicle 127 Hours; the animated comedy Toy Story 3; the Western True Grit; and the Ozarks crime story Winter’s Bone.

Isn’t that sweet: Russell Brand took his mother Barbara along for the occasion
With TV ratings on a general decline over the last few decades, Oscar organizers doubled the best-picture category from five to 10 films last year, hoping to spice up the show and bring in a broader range of films. Academy overseers also have tried to liven up the show with fresh hosts, new routines and different ways of presenting awards.

It paid off last year, when the low-budget Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker beat sci-fi behemoth Avatar for best picture. TV viewers totaled 41.7 million, up 15 percent from the previous year and the biggest Oscar audience in five years.

This time, Oscar planners cast youthful hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco (also a best-actor nominee for 127 Hours) and are promising exotic visuals as backdrops to the ceremony. They also stepped up pressure for winners to keep speeches short and sharp, rather than intone long thank-you lists.

Bright: Slimline Jennifer Hudson wore Versace while Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence, who is nominated for best actress, wore Calvin Klein made bespoke by Francisco Costa

The speech factor gets an early test with a couple of technical awards – art direction and cinematography – leading off the show. Past Oscars typically started with a major prize such as supporting actress, but rather than a glib actor, the first word will come from behind-the-camera worker bees, whose speeches hold little interest for many TV viewers.

To hear Franco describe it, this year’s nearly four hour show should prove a mix of old and new.

The Oscars have ‘been going on for 83 years. I’m kind of joining a bigger apparatus, so it’s going to be pretty familiar in some ways, but I think it’ll be fun,’ Franco said backstage Saturday at the Spirit Awards honouring independent film, where he won best actor for 127 Hours.

‘They’re allowing us to be relaxed. They’re not stretching us into some mold that we don’t fit.’

There are front-runners in most major categories and a few near-certain winners, including Colin Firth for best actor in the title role of The King’s Speech and Christian Bale for supporting-actor as real-life boxer-turned-drug abuser Dicky Eklund in The Fighter.

Black and white: Sideways star Virginia Madsen opted for a ruffled monochrome number

Natalie Portman is expected to win best actress as a ballerina lost in dangerous delusion in Black Swan, while Melissa Leo is the supporting-actress favorite as a boxing clan’s domineering matriarch in The Fighter.

But both actresses face potential upsets. Annette Bening, a Hollywood favorite nominated three times previously without a win, is a strong best-actress contender as a stern but loving lesbian mum in The Kids Are All Right.

Portman won best actress over a field that included Bening at the Spirit Awards, where “Black Swan” led with four prizes, including best picture and director for Darren Aronofsky.

The supporting-actress ranks offer really strong competitors, among them Leo’s The Fighter co-star Amy Adams as boxer Micky Ward’s scrappy girlfriend. Momentum for The King’s Speech also could propel Helena Bonham Carter to an Oscar win as George’s devoted wife, Queen Elizabeth, while 14-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld has good prospects as a dauntless teen pursuing her father’s killer in True Grit.

The best-director Oscar comes down to Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech and David Fincher for The Social Network.

Food, glorious food: Chef Wolfgang Puck is catering the Oscar dinner which will follow the show

Hollywood veteran Fincher, a previous Oscar nominee for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, won best director at the Globes.

First-time nominee Hooper, best-known previously for classy television productions, won the filmmaking prize from the Directors Guild of America, whose recipient has gone on to take the directing Oscar 56 times in the past 62 years of the guild’s awards.

The Academy Awards will be televised live in the U.S. on ABC at 8 p.m. EST.

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