From a rape victim in “Elle” to a crack-addicted mother in “Moonlight,” this year’s nominated female roles are confronting, arresting, and varied. The same can be said for the actresses who play them, who choose to lead, rather than follow, with their choices in both film and fashion.
Viola Davis made a pointed statement on the Golden Globes red carpet. “The bright yellow was a symbol of hope and optimism,” says stylist Elizabeth Stewart of Davis’ Michael Kors gown. “It was very intentional. It feels like we’re living in dark times, and we’ve been choosing colors and dresses that symbolize hope.”

Nicole Kidman, too, is not one to shy from a bold choice. Twenty years after her chartreuse Dior catapulted her to the top of the best-dressed list, the “Lion” nominee had no hesitation about the divisive Gucci she wore to the SAG Awards. “I fell in love with the dress, and so did Nicole,” says stylist Julia Von Boehm. On the red carpet, she says, Kidman will “never bore.”
Also not one to compromise is “Hidden Figures” nominee Octavia Spencer, who wore a Laura Basci to the Globes. “We like to be unpredictable in our choices,” says stylist Wendi Ferreira.
In the lead-up to the Oscars, here’s a look back at each nominee’s awards-season red carpet triumphs.

Lead Actress

Isabelle Huppert
The “Elle” nominee is no stranger to couture: She modeled for Givenchy and has sat front-row at Armani, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton shows. The 63-year-old icon of French cinema, who holds the record for the most César nominations ever (16), favors power pantsuits, such as the crimson Haider Ackermann she wore to the AFI Fest, but she can also pull off a gown with aplomb. Our favorites include her embellished blue Armani Privé at the Golden Globes, where Huppert nabbed the lead drama actress award; a bespoke emerald Chloé at Cannes, and an embellished black Dior at Les Globes de Cristal Award in Paris.

Ruth Negga
Since her breakout role in “Loving,” the Irish-Ethiopian actress, 35, has fast become a red-carpet star thanks to her modern twist on old Hollywood glamour. Highlights from a stellar season include a sheer Marc Jacobs at the premiere of “Loving” in Cannes, a scarlet bird-print Valentino at the Paris premiere, and a bedazzled green Prada at the People Ones to Watch party in Beverly Hills. Of the custom-made Louis Vuitton she wore to the Golden Globes, Negga told reporters, “When an artist, a creator, a genius custom-makes something for you, it’s extraordinary.”

Natalie Portman
Leave it to the “Jackie” star to master maternity red-carpet style. Throughout the season, Portman, 35, has celebrated her growing bump in a succession of stunning, attention-grabbing gowns. Standouts include the chartreuse Prada she wore to the Golden Globes, the elegant one-shoulder Dior she donned to the “Planetarium” premiere at the Venice Film Festival, a bejeweled navy Erdem at the Huading Global Film Awards, and a sweeping Dior Haute
Couture at the SAG Awards.

Emma Stone
In 2015, Stone caused a sensation when she donned a Lanvin jumpsuit at the Golden Globes. This year, the “La La Land” nominee, 28, continued her style streak with a succession of red-carpet choices that showcase her fashion wit. Favorites include red-and-gold Chanel at the Paris premiere of “La La Land,” embellished Armani Privé Couture at the AFI Fest, fringed custom Versace at the Venice
Film Festival, and star-studded Valentino at the Golden Globes, where Stone took home the award for lead actress in a comedy.

Meryl Streep
Given that she holds the record for most Academy Award nominations ever (20), she could be forgiven for phoning it in on the red carpet. However, Streep, 67, has been cutting a bold figure this season, including the bejeweled Givenchy she wore to receive her Cecil B. DeMille Award and deliver a much-
talked-about speech at the Golden Globes. Other highlights
include an ombré Valentino at the “Florence Foster Jenkins”
premiere in New York, an organza Valentino at the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival, and a teal silk blouse-and-pants combo at the Rome Film Festival.

Supporting Actress

Viola Davis
“Michael Kors is an amazing match for Viola,” says Stewart, who dressed Davis, 51, for the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. “Bold simplicity can be daring; that’s not a direction a lot of people go in.” Other standouts include a Vivienne Westwood corset dress at the SAG Awards and a sleek Cinq a Sept sheath at the “Fences” premiere in New York. “It’s her style with a tiny bit of a twist,” says Stewart of the label, which is a recent discovery. “We’ve been playing with their silhouettes and adding our own ideas — we added our own pops of fuchsia to make it Viola.”

Naomie Harris
The British Bond girl is a chameleon, both on screen and off. At the Gotham Independent
Film Awards, the “Moonlight” nominee wowed in a sequined, gold tunic-and-pants combo by Monse. For the “Collateral Beauty” premiere in New York, she looked sweetly romantic
in neon floral Rosie Assoulin.
At the Decoding the Beauty of Time gala in Geneva, the 40-year-old reinvented the concept of a white tuxe in plunging Alexandre Vauthier. And at the Golden Globes, Harris exuded sheer Hollywood glamour in a custom Armani Privé worthy of Oscar himself.

Nicole Kidman
Kidman is one of the few stars capable of pulling off an over-the-top gown like the sequin-and-fringe, parakeet-adorned Gucci she wore to the SAGs.
“Nicole can carry anything,” says stylist Von Boehm. “She owns the look; she never looks disguised.” Other delightfully unexpected choices for the actress were the pink floral Rodarte — with double-wrap studded leather belt — at the premiere of “Lion” in New York and a dramatic Brandon Maxwell cutout number at the
Critics’ Choice Awards. For the Golden Globes, Kidman, 49, looked ethereal in a frothy, sequin-encrusted Alexander McQueen.

Octavia Spencer
“Tadashi Shoji and his team consistently go above and beyond to ensure a perfect look,” says stylist Nicole Ferreira of Spencer’s go-to designer, who created the peplum look she wore to the SAG Awards. The “Hidden Figures” nominee, 46, also favors comfortable separates, such as the Laura Basci two-piece she wore at the Golden Globes, a polka-dot ribbon tweed jacket by St. John Knits at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, and a faux two-piece by Eliza J. at the Palm Springs festival. What can we expect on Feb. 26? Ferreira’s not giving anything away. “You’ll have to wait for Oscar Sunday!”

Michelle Williams
Just because the “Manchester by the Sea” nominee wears exclusively Louis Vuitton (albeit custom-made) does not mean her step-and-repeat style is predictable. The gamine star, 36, made a surprising appearance at the Governors Awards in Los Angeles in an uncharacteristically revealing sheer design by her favorite label. Another unexpected choice was the one-shoulder column she wore in Toronto that owed its glitter not to sequins but to grommets. At the SAG Awards, a black scarf made an unusual accompaniment to her shimmering striped dress. And at the Golden Globes, Williams
accessorized her off-the-shoulder gown not with jewels but with a black ribbon tied in a bow.