Oscar Circuit: Best Costume Design

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anna kareninaIt is the costume designer’s job to properly design a wardrobe of costumes that symbolize the characters in a film and to set the right mood for every scene. The following nominees did a fantastic job completing this task.

And the nominees are…

  • Anna Karenina– Jacqueline Durran
  • Les Miserables– Paco Delgado
  • Lincoln– Joanna Johnston
  • Mirror Mirror– Eiko Ishioka
  • Snow White & The Huntsman– Colleen Atwood

It’s no lie Oscar voters tend to go for a particular style of costumes. With past winners including Alice in Wonderland, Young Victoria, The Duchess, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Marie Antoniette, and Memoirs of a Geisha, it’s easy to see Oscar voters like elaborate costumes. But sometimes we get fooled and films like The Aviator and The Artist take the top honor. I can’t say I disagree with their voting process; if I was voting I too would vote for the costumes that pay the most attention to detail over a simple suit. This category has been locked up for a while with Anna Karenina winning most of the costume design awards. Let’s review the nominees for Best Costume Design.

Previously nominated for Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, three-time Oscar nominee Jacqueline Durran might finally win an Oscar for her work in Anna Karenina. Oscar voters tend to favor the costume style displayed in Anna Karenina. Durran and director Joe Wright had a vision to mix 50’s couture with 1870s silhouette and the result is exquisite. Durran’s most attractive gift as a designer is how she values the actors opinion on how their characters should look and she brings that inspiration to life. Durran has a good understanding of character, design and creating an outfit that fits perfectly within the period of a film. She’s won BFCA and BAFTA and is currently the favorite to win.

les miserablesFirst time nominee Paco Delgado faced the challenge of creating outfits for over 4,000 actors in a film where the year begins at 1815 and concludes in 1848 in Les Miserables. One of the major difficulties Delgado faced was portraying the character of Jean Valjean perfectly as he ages throughout the film. We see Vaijean in the beginning of the film in prison, and as the movie continues he becomes more sophisticated and Delgado wanted to express that through his costume. Fantine is a character Delgado was fascinated with because we see her character in the beginning dressed as a girl who takes care of herself and soon becomes torn apart wearing a bold red color to symbolize the pain she agonizes. A lot of thought and detail went into the costume design of Les Miserables. Delgado did a fantastic job when it came to telling a story through the costumes.

First time nominee Joanna Johnston’s goal for Lincoln was to make sure the likeness of the person the actors were portraying was displayed through their costumes. I think it’s easier to design a wardrobe of costumes for a film that isn’t based on real life because they have free range to create outfits that fit the period, but when given a film based on history you have to get the personality of each person as accurate as possible. Johnston did a tasteful job making the outfits pop on such a dim set, but unless Lincoln sweeps Sunday, Johnston will have to be proud of the work she did.

mirror mirrorOscar winner Eiko Ishioka had the delight of designing outfits for the perfect fairytale. Mirror Mirror is a cute little film, but the best part of the film is the over the top costumes. I mean let’s be honest, the costumes are gorgeous but they are absolutely outrageous. Who came up with the thought to put a swan on Snow White’s head? Ishioka designed ever single outfit worn in the film and each outfit represents what the character is going through as the film progresses. The costumes are eye candy and very appropriate for a fairytale film. I think it would be amazing for Ishioka to win because of the originality of each costume, but the competition is too strong.

Three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood put together the very grim outfits for the other Snow White film of the year Snow White and the Huntsman. Atwood wanted to give Snow White a fairy tale feel without delving too much into creating elaborate costumes, especially when the nature of the film is about revenge. The most work went into the character of Ravenna. Atwood wanted to make sure a lot of the elements of her costume reflected death. The cape made of cock feathers is such a beautiful work of art that reflects the evilness of her character so well. I don’t think this nomination was entirely deserved because the only costumes worth admiring are the ones worn by Ravenna.

If Anna Karenina fails to win on Sunday Lincoln is next in line to win the award. This is a great year for costume design, each film is different in there design and make up a very talented list of nominees.

Will Win: Anna Karenina

Should Win: I previously said Anna Karenina, but now I’m changing my mind to Mirror Mirror.

Should Have Been Nominated: A Royal Affair, Moonrise Kingdom, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  • there’s one character’s costumes in Lincoln that i think earn the award for Johnston – i get into it here: http://sammcgeesashes.blogspot.com/2013/01/2012-oscars-costume-design.html

    basically, the decision to make all of Bob Lincoln’s outfits slightly too large for him, reflecting his characters awkward place between wanting to be a man and being forced to stay a child by his parents – character-driven design at its finest. plus Molly’s too-fancy outfits reflecting her characters insistence on living above her means to maintain a certain regality in the white house, also character-driven design, rather than just flashy costuming. really impressive work on more than just a historical level.

    if Lincoln can’t get it though, i hope Anna Karenina does.