Stars look to the Middle East at the Critics’ Choice Awards

A handful of stars wore creations by Arab designers to the 25th Critic’s Choice Awards. (AFP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Stars look to the Middle East at the Critics’ Choice Awards

DUBAI: The 25th annual Critics’ Choice Awards kicked off in Santa Monica, California, this week. Hosted by US actor Taye Diggs, the ceremony was the second in a string of awards shows to come this month, following last weekend’s season kickoff at the 2020 Golden Globes.

The awards show brought together a host of leading ladies wearing their glittering best. When it comes to delivering a standout red carpet look, celebrities can always look to the Middle East’s design talent — which was demonstrated to its fullest extent at the Critics’ Choice Awards.




Jennifer Lopez wears Georges Hobeika at the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards. AFP

Look no further than Jennifer Lopez, who was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Award. Shortly after the superstar kicked off the awards season wearing a bow-adorned Valentino ball gown, Lopez stepped out wearing yet another attention-grabbing look. The “Hustlers” actress opted for a cream-colored, bejeweled Georges Hobeika gown that boasted an open back. Worn with diamond jewelry, the sleeveless, floor-trailing gown proved that you don’t have to take home an award to be a winner.

The 50-year-old wasn’t the only star who looked to Middle Eastern couturiers to dress her for the occasion. Regional talent practically dominated the red carpet at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport.




Awkwafina was a vision in a marigold evening gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. AFP

Best Actress nominee Awkwafina, who made history as the first actress of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe Award in the lead actress category, attended her second awards ceremony this month wearing a design plucked from Lebanese couturier Elie Saab’s Resort 2020 collection. The “Farewell” star was a vision in a long, marigold evening gown with billowing long sleeves and a keyhole detail.


Mandy Moore opted for an Elie Saab jumpsuit for the red carpet. AFP

Mandy Moore opted for an Elie Saab jumpsuit for the red carpet. AFP

The Damour-born designer also found a fan in American singer Mandy Moore. The 35-year-old decided to trade in the standard glitzy evening gown in favor of a sleek black jumpsuit. The ensemble featured a plunging neckline, matching cape and dazzling gold chain details. She completed the look with a pair of black pointed-toe pumps and effortless makeup.




Ava DuVurnay accepted her trophy in a gown from Dubai-based label Michael Cinco. AFP

Meanwhile, filmmaker Ava DuVernay took to the stage to accept the trophy for Best Limited Series wearing a design by Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco. The “When They See Us” director chose an intricate, long-sleeved ballgown that was embellished and cinched at the waist. 

For her part, Irish star Saoirse Ronan showed off a white-and-rose-red floral number, complete with puffed sleeves and a billowing train by Canadian-Turkish designer Erdem Moralıoğlu.


‘Work It’ playfully explores ambition through music and dance

Updated 11 August 2020

‘Work It’ playfully explores ambition through music and dance

CHENNAI: Laura Terruso’s “Work It” — one of Netflix’s better releases in the recent months of the pandemic — centers on a young woman’s dream to get into the college that her late father attended. The charming film has an easy pace and, despite its predictable nature, makes for a compelling watch, largely owing to the dance sequences, which form the core of the plot.

Produced by Alicia Keys and performed by a cast of actors in their twenties posing as high schoolers, “Work It” is essentially the story of Quinn (singer and Disney star Sabrina Carpenter), a student who receives excellent grades at school, is focused and has few interests outside her campus. She does have a dream, however, and a desperate one at that — to get into Duke University. Quinn is determined to receive admission into Duke after she graduates from high school.

“Work It” centers on a young woman’s dream to get into the college that her late father attended. Supplied

It seems her grades alone are not enough, however, and in an interview with the head of Duke, a slight misunderstanding occurs. Quinn is mistaken for a dancer, and it appears her admission hinges on her being one. She is not even part of her school’s award-winning dance team. So, she enlists the help of her best friend, Jas (YouTuber-turned-actor Liza Koshy), who is a superb dancer. As the plot progresses, Quinn falls in love with Jake (singer and “Hamilton” star, Jordan Fisher), also an accomplished artist, who doubles as her coach. 

Quinn assembles a team of girls and boys — who can barely shake a leg but who are eager to be part of her efforts — to join a dance competition. The group has difficulty finding a place to practice but eventually find a spot at a nursing home, where residents turn in by seven in the evening. There is a hilarious scene in which Quinn and the dance group begin a practice session only to elicit the interest of one of the residents, who appears to have been disturbed by the noise but who, much to the surprise and amusement of the group, sportingly joins in!

“Work It” is playful, and the dance sessions are a lot of fun to watch, despite Quinn’s desperation to get it right. The 93-minute run time has never a dull moment, not even when Quinn is deep in the dumps, having been rejected by Duke and finding it a struggle to get her body to sway to the beat.