Bedecked in gowns, tuxedos and even shorts, the world's top actors and actresses strode down the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Sunday with all eyes on the cliffhanger best picture race between frontrunners 12 Years a Slave and Gravity.
As if on cue, the sun came out after four days of heavy rain just before the first movie stars exited their limos in a mix of outfits as diverse as the films competing for the Oscars, Hollywood's top honours.
Amy Adams, best actress nominee for her role as a con woman in American Hustle, graced the red carpet in a strapless navy gown.
British best actor nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays the slave Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave, showed up in the classic tuxedo, while singer Pharrell Williams wore a Lanvin tux with shorts rather than trousers.
Another best actor nominee, 77-year-old Bruce Dern, star of Nebraska, came on the arm of his daughter, Laura Dern, dressed in a pastel pink gown, who said "I'm very moved to get to celebrate him and be here."
The 86th annual Academy Awards will be hosted by comedian and day-time talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who producers are banking on to deliver an entertaining yet tasteful three-hour show after critics widely panned last year's ceremony and host Seth MacFarlane's provocative humour.
One of the features of the night will be a tribute to The Wizard of Oz for its 75th anniversary and star Judy Garland's children, including singer and actress Liza Minnelli in a blue pant suit, were in attendance.
Sunday was the culmination of an unusually long awards season, extended by the Winter Olympics, and for many of the nominees it spelled the end to months of campaigning and years of work on a film.
Singer John Legend and a model arrive at the Oscar 2014 red carpet (Reuters photo)
One of the most notable names on the awards season fashion radar this year, best supporting actress nominee Lupita Nyong'o, wore a blue custom-made Prada.
"It's a blue that reminds me of Nairobi and I wanted to have a little bit of home," said the Kenyan actress who plays the hardworking slave, Patsey, in 12 Years a Slave.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could make history this year if it chooses 12 Years a Slave for best picture. It would be the first time that the top film honor goes to a movie by a black director in the 86 years of the Oscars.
While British director Steve McQueen's brutal slavery drama is the presumed frontrunner for best picture, the groundbreaking Gravity with its technical achievements lurks just behind.
Apart from the best picture race, it may be a night of predictable outcomes, from Gravity filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron's likely win of the best director statuette to the virtual shoo-in of Frozen for best animated film. The four acting races might also be foregone conclusions.