Sure, the Met Gala might be fashion’s biggest night, but as far as we’re concerned, the Oscars red carpet is where some of history’s most iconic beauty looks are born. (And hey, any time Zoë Kravitz, Zendaya, and Kourtney Kardashian are all in one room, let’s just say we’re paying close attention.) Each year, Academy Award nominees, presenters, and guests team up with their glam squads to create the looks they’ll remember for years to come. Their skin is prepped, makeup is applied, and hair is blown out, braided, and twisted to perfection. But the low-key beauty looks that we love to watch for are often the most subtle of them all: the manicures.
Think about it: whenever an Oscar winner grabs their prize, guess what’s front and center? That’s right, it’s their nails — wrapped around that heavier than expected golden statue. Those manicures will be immortalized in photos and videos that we, personally, watch on repeat on Youtube when we’re sad. That’s why A-listers’ manicurists and nail artists spend weeks (or even months) planning the perfect red carpet nail looks for their clients. Maybe they’ll create a trimmed, neutral set of nails to anchor a devastatingly bold dress, pump up a subdued gown with a luxe gilded mani to match the night’s top prize, or split the difference with a colorful twist on the French manicure. But no matter what epic nails look gets chosen, we’ll be eyeing up everyone’s hands tonight.
All night long, we’ll be zooming in to see the freshly-filed, painted fingertips of Hollywood’s biggest stars for the latest and greatest mani inspo. From gel tips to dramatic shapes to intricate nail art, here are the best nail looks at this year’s Oscars — hands down.