Costume design comes off like one of those no-brainer awards where the prettiest costume wins the whole enchilada. But is that truly the case? This year’s crop of Best Costume Design nominees are tailor-made (pun sort of intended) to win awards, from the period costume to the grandiose and fantastical. It’s safe to say none of the nominees this year reinvented the wheel, but the costumes did their part to set the tone of authenticity for the features they’re in.
The Nominees Are:
- The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
- Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
- Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
- Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran
- Maleficent – Jane Clive and Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard
Out of the five nominees, Canonero’s is the only name associated with a Best Picture winner as Grand Budapest Hotel popped up in that category; that right there could give it the edge to win Costume Design. Much like another nominee in the list, Canonero is a veteran with three wins under her belt – winning in 1976 for Barry Lyndon, 1982 for Chariots of Fire, and 2007 for Marie Antionette – and five previous nominations. Also, she won the first two times she was nominated. Her filmography shows off her proficiency making period costumes, so it’s interesting to note how fancy, yet functional the costumes in Grand Budapest are. As evidenced by her last win for Marie Antionette, Canonero also has an eye for color, and if the Academy is seduced by Budapest’s candy-coated couture as they were for Antoinette’s, Canonero could take that.
Atwood is Canonero’s prime competition with an almost equal number of wins and nominees. Atwood’s been nominated seven times prior to her nod this year, and she’s won three (Chicago in 2003, Memoirs of a Geisha in 2006, and Alice in Wonderland in 2011). Disney and musicals have worked in her favor in the past, and her costumes are both outlandish, sometimes bordering on garish, and have an equally reverent love of color. If this were a drabber year I’d say Into the Woods would be a shoo-in, but the movie doesn’t have nearly the awards love in other areas as something like Grand Budapest. Furthermore, Canonero’s gone longer without a win, and Atwood didn’t see any love for her work on Snow White and the Hunstmen in 2013 which had an equally fantastical world with costumes to match. Furthermore, Maleficent, another Disney project, could end up working against Atwood and cancel out both Disney films. However, the fact that so much of the costume design is integral to the plot (Red’s cape, the look of the Witch, the Wolf’s costume) could cause Atwood to eke out a win.
Inherent Vice costumer Mark Bridges is still an untested entity. His first nomination turned into a win for The Artist in 2012…and that’s it. This marks only his second time being nominated for an Oscar in his career. He’s been nominated by the Costume Designers Guild for his work on The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook but they didn’t yield any wins. For the most part, the nomination for Inherent Vice really stems from the fact that the costumes are retro. They aren’t anything more than period specific – something I’d also lob at Mr. Turner – and there’s really nothing special. Considering Bridges hasn’t received any nominations since his first win, it’s doubtful the Academy would honor him with another win, especially with heavy-hitters like Atwood and Canonero in the competition.
Jacqueline Durran, much like Canonero and Atwood, works well with period dramas. A four-time nominee, Durran won in 2013 for the lavish costumes of Anna Karenina. She’s also won two BAFTAs for Costume Design, for Karenina and Vera Drake in 2005. The latter film ties in nicely with her work in Mr. Turner, where puffy shirts and top hats rule the day. The costumes here are stereotypical “British period drama” costumes, eschewing the bright colors Atwood and Canonero worked with and focusing on functionality and authenticity, which puts her alongside Mark Bridges’ work in Inherent Vice; it just goes with the period setting. If Turner received a bit more love in other areas, Durran might be a frontrunner. However, her win for Karenina, which was all but shut-out in 2013 might lend some hope to Turner, although those costumes were showier than here.
Fun fact: The costume nod for Maleficent marks the only costuming team on the list. This is Jane Clive’s first nomination as she’s previously been the assistant costume director for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Snow White and the Huntsmen (putting her under Atwood’s tutelage). Anna B. Sheppard has been nominated twice previously, for Schindler’s List and The Pianist. Sheppard’s work is interesting as she’s worked more with WWII-era costuming – she also did work as the costume designer for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Her and Clive’s work on Maleficent is dark and broody, but the fantastical costume award seems to be in favor of Into the Woods. If anything, this and Woods will cancel each other out leaving Grand Budapest to take it.
Will Win: It’s very much a race between Into the Woods and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m not particularly confident, but I think Woods, with its blend of color, fantasy, and Disney magic will take it.
Could Win: If Woods and Maleficent cancel each other out, or if the film’s on a hot streak, I see Grand Budapest Hotel taking it.
Should Win: If the costumes did a bit more to assert themselves I’d say Inherent Vice, but I love the costumes for Into the Woods, and it would deserve the win.