By Maria Caspani
Los Angeles - Regina King, Carey Mulligan, Andra Day and Leslie Odom Jr. were among the stars strutting their stuff on the Oscars red carpet on Sunday in a jubilant return to the live, in-person glamour that had been missing from this year's pandemic-stricken awards shows.
It was a smaller-than-usual affair with fewer celebrities and cameras - and strict Covid-19 protocols in place. But there was no less glamour to grace the carpet set up at Los Angeles' Mission Revival-style Union Station, where the 93rd annual Academy Awards took place this year.
Wearing a double-breasted black tuxedo, actor Paul Raci, 73, was among the first to step in front of the microphones on the carpet.
"I don't think I could have it any other way; it means a lot. It's perfect," said Raci, who has been nominated for best supporting actor for his role in the movie "The Sound of Metal."
TV hosts and personalities described a pent-up red carpet energy with stars and spectators alike eager to put on a show to forget, albeit temporarily, the rigours of 2020.
"Minari" star Steven Yeun, one of the nominees for best actor, said it felt "strange" to be out and interacting with people.
"I haven't talked to random people in a while, so this is crazy," said Yeun, 37.
Close, nominated for the eighth time for an Oscar for her portrayal of tough-love character Mamaw in "Hillbilly Elegy," walked the red carpet in a blue tunic and pants by Armani Prive.
"It's not two miles long, so that's lovely," Close, 74, joked, referring to this year's shortened red carpet.
"I'm very excited; I think it will be very, very different,"she said of the ceremony.
Fashion commentators hailed the baby blue gown with butterfly-like shoulders worn by Regina King, director of the Oscar-nominated movie "One Night in Miami," as one of the red carpet's show stoppers.
Zendaya also drew praise for her Oscars style, a yellow midriff cutout dress.
"It feels like a special season, like a special time to remember," said best supporting actor nominee Odom, 39, who wore one of the more eye-catching outfits of the night, a head-to-toe gold Brioni suit.
Gold proved to be a popular choice among nominees. Mulligan of "Promising Young Woman" stunned in a gold gown on the red carpet, and Day, star of biopic "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," wore a midriff-baring gold dress.
"I really can't believe we're around people," said best supporting actress nominee Amanda Seyfried, who appeared in a bright-red dress with a plunging neck line.
Some of the others on the red carpet aside from the actors and actresses wore masks, and interviewers kept their social distance from their subjects.
Some of the nominees and other celebrities took to social media ahead of the ceremony to share preparations for this year's awards show.
On Instagram, Close silently toasted in front of the camera while getting ready for the show.
A mask-wearing Laura Dern held what looked like a swab for a Covid-19 test in a shot the actress shared with her Instagram followers and captioned "Oscars prep!"