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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gloomy movies may have seized the spotlight at this year's Academy Awards, but it was bold, vivid red that reigned on the Oscar red carpet and cut through the cold gray of a rare rainy day in Hollywood.
Under plastic sheeting above the red carpet, stars like Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Miley Cyrus, Katherine Heigl and Heidi Klum stood out with varying hues of crimson on their elaborate gowns.
Many of the dresses were in deep, dramatic red, evoking the brooding themes of revenge, despair and doomed love in best film nominees like "Atonement," "Michael Clayton" and "There Will Be Blood."
A crippling writers' strike had also cast a pall over the entertainment industry in recent months, and fashion watchers wondered how that would play out on Oscar's big day.
Hathaway chose a crimson Marchesa gown, its lone shoulder covered with silk roses. The draped dress, fitted with a long train, was a liability in the rain, the actress said.
"I have a lot of fabric to be responsible for. I didn't want it to get wet," Hathaway said.
Supermodel Klum, host of television's "Project Runway," wore a scarlet Galliano gown to raise awareness of women's heart disease.
Mirren, last year's best actress winner, opted for a George Chakra gown the color of garnets with sparkling, beaded sleeves and back.
And best supporting actress nominee Ruby Dee wore, fittingly, ruby-red.
"Red was huge and I think that was so appropriate considering people were ready to celebrate. They hadn't had an awards season for a while," said Ryan Patterson, supervising producer at TV entertainment show "Access Hollywood."
Other electric hues were seen, such as the marigold yellow Roberto Cavalli worn by Kelly Preston and the emerald green Alberta Ferretti chosen by 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan, nominated for best supporting actress in "Atonement."
"I just saw Daniel Day-Lewis," squealed the young actress. "It's amazing just to walk down the red carpet. I watch this every year."
Shades of cabernet were the colors for Jessica Alba and Cate Blanchett. Commenting on her strapless Marchesa gown with feathers at the bodice, the pregnant Alba quipped: "It's empire waist. It allows room for the belly."
Red was the color of Tilda Swinton's hair but the best supporting actress winner opted for a black Lanvin dress with one flowing sleeve, a look that prompted some barbs.
"She looked like she was wearing a garbage bag," Patterson said. "She's known for edgy looks but this was over-the-top bad."
In a refreshing departure from red, Marion Cotillard, best actress winner for her portrayal of French singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," wore a white gold Jean Paul Gaultier gown. Its scalloped edges made the raven-haired actress resemble a modern-day mermaid.
Men also took some risks on the red carpet. Best actor nominee Viggo Mortensen wore a 19th-century-style morning coat with a red rose on the lapel, while Wesley Snipes chose a dark violet suit.
Adding a bit of whimsy to the red carpet, the team behind animated feature "Ratatouille," including director Brad Bird, wore lapel pins featuring a rat wearing a chef's hat.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Mary Milliken and John O'Callaghan