20 best Academy Award dresses of all time

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By ISABELLE CHAPMAN

The Academy Awards are as much about celebrating the greatness of film as they are about fashion. Throughout Oscar history, female stars have stolen our attention on the red carpet and set trends with their couture gowns.

No one will ever forget Gwyneth Paltrow's pale pink Ralph Lauren gown the night she took home a trophy for her role in "Shakespeare in Love" or Halle Berry's iconic, floral Elie Sabb number that she wore the year she won for "Monster's Ball." And it would be impossible to compile a list of best dresses without mentioning Michelle Williams' canary yellow Vera Wang gown, which dazzled critics and fans alike just three months after she gave birth to her first child with Heath Ledger.

This year all eyes will be on nominees like veteran thespian Reese Witherspoon, who has been known to wow crowds with her smart, sophisticated fashion choices, and British newcomer Felicity Jones who has already proven she's got some serious style chops. While we countdown to this year's much-anticipated Oscar ceremony, let's take a look back at some of our favorite gown choices from years past:

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Best Oscar dresses of all time
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20 best Academy Award dresses of all time

Michelle Williams wowed the crowd when she wore a saffron colored Vera Wang dress with delicate ruching and ruffles to the Academy Awards in 2006.

(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

It's impossible to forget Halle Berry's sexy yet stunning floral gown from Elie Sabb the year she won the Oscar for "Monster's Ball."

(Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

Julia Roberts channeled old Hollywood glamor in a black and white Valentino dress the night she took home the Oscar for her starring role in "Erin Brockovich" in 2001.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Audrey Hepburn was as elegant as ever in the Givenchy gown she wore to the Academy Awards in 1954.

(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Talk about taking a risk! Nicole Kidman stunned in an elegant yellow Christian Dior by John Galliano gown in 1997. The Aussie actress was escorted to the show by her then-husband, Tom Cruise.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Kate Winslet looked fabulous in a fiery, yet simple gown by Ben de Lisi at the 2002 Academy Awards. The delicate floral detailing accentuated her classic lines.

(Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

For one of her early Academy Award appearances at the 2002 show, Reese Witherspoon opted for a vintage, lace black number and looked positively radiant. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Charlize Theron glowed in this sparkly Tom Ford for Gucci gown at the Oscars in 2004.  The South African beauty took home an Oscar for her work in "Monster."

(AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

Cate Blanchett kept things simple in this embellished nude floor length gown from the Armani Prive Fall 2013 collection at the 86th Annual Academy Awards where she took home an Oscar for her role in "Blue Jasmine."

(Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) CATE BLANCHETT

Penelope Cruz stepped out at the 2007 Oscars in this gorgeous blush-colored Versace gown, which featured a feathered train and stunning silhouette.

Photo by Francis Specker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Grace Kelly celebrated her Oscar win wearing this youthful green number at the 1955 Academy Awards.

(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Gwyneth Paltrow channeled icon Grace Kelly in this now-famous gown by Ralph Lauren on the night she won an Oscar for her role in "Shakespeare in Love" in 1999. The pink color was youthful yet sophisticated.

(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Kate Hudson rocked this body-hugging lace gown by Versace to the 2003 Academy Awards.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Angelina Jolie took the plunge in this white hot gown with a matching wrap by Marc Bouwer at the 2004 Academy Awards.

(Photo by Steve Granitz Archive 1/WireImage)

Sandra Bullock sparkled in a silver, lace applique Marchesa gown the night she took home the Oscar for her work in "The Blind Side" in 2010.

(Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)

Gwyneth Paltrow arrived at the 2012 Academy Awards wearing this elegant, polished Tom Ford white cape dress.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Nicole Kidman looked sleek in this red-hot number by Balenciaga at the 2007 Academy Awards.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Marion Cotillard stood out in this mermaid-like dress from Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2008 Couture collection at the 2008 Academy Awards.

(Photo by Francis Specker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mila Kunis arrived at the 2011 Oscars wearing this pale, lavender, chiffon gown with a gorgeous, lacey bodice by Elie Saab.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Rooney Mara looked like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn as she arrived at the 2012 Oscars in this neutral Givenchy Haute Couture gown. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
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