2018 Oscars Circuit: Best Costume Design

What characters wear says a lot about themselves. Costume designers are tasked with showing personality, life and an arc through a series of garments. The nominated designers come from films of many different genres. While we have the requisite period pieces and films about fashion designers, we also have a monster movie and live-action Disney adaptation.

The nominees for Best Costume Design are:

  • “Beauty and the Beast” – Jacqueline Durran
  • “The Darkest Hour” – Jacqueline Durran
  • “Phantom Thread” – Mark Bridges
  • “The Shape of Water” – Luis Sequeira
  • “Victoria & Abdul” – Consolata Boyle

The status of front-runner belongs to “Phantom Thread” for Mark Bridges’ work. Bridges has picked up this award at both BAFTA and the Critics’ Choice Awards. Of the five nominees, only three (including “Phantom Thread”) are nominated at the Costume Design Guild. The last film to win the Oscar without a CDG nomination was “Moulin Rouge!” in 2001 (when there were fewer categories). “Phantom Thread” also over-performed in nominations, taking in six including Best Picture and Best Director. Being a long-shot in those top categories, this category marks the best place to reward the film. Since the movie is actually about costume design, it seems to be a thematically relevant place to reward it.

Two-time nominee Jacqueline Durran emerges as Bridges’ strongest competition. However, she contends more for “Beauty and the Beast” than “The Darkest Hour.” In “Beauty and the Beast,” Durran achieves perhaps the most singularly iconic looks of the year. Belle’s yellow dress brings to life a previously animated creation that little girls have dressed as for years. It is a moment that sticks out and will win votes. However, one needs to have more than one signature look in order to win the prize. Arguably, one of the most famous recent costumes was Keira Knightley’s plunging green dress in “Atonement.” That film lost to the more traditionally period “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”

Durran’s work in “The Darkest Hour” seems least likely to win. The lack of a CDG nod hinders its chances already. With Durran having flashier work in “Beauty and the Beast,” fans will most likely vote for her there. Durran devotes herself mostly to Parliament suits. Kristen Scott Thomas provides the biggest pop, in terms of costumes. The film receives much more acclaim for its makeup and hairstyling work, which is the craft category it seems most likely to win. As a result, it should be just happy for the nomination here.

Our other wild card spoiler could be “The Shape of Water” for Luis Sequeira’s work. The film reaped the most nominations of any film this year (13 nominations). If the film starts winning many craft categories, it could add Costume Design to its haul (see “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). It already has front-runner status in Best Original Score and Best Production Design. Additionally, voters have been educated to the fact that the central monster character is a costume piece, rather than a CGI creation. What hurts the film is the lack of love this category has shown “monster” movies. The closest winner one may point to would be “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” shocking here last year. However, that was a 20s period piece on top of a fantasy creation.

It always helps to be a period piece with heavy usage of corsets. From 2006 – 2009, four consecutive period pieces won the award – “Marie Antoinette,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “The Duchess” and “The Young Victoria.” This stat positions Consolata Boyle from “Victoria & Abdul” as a potential last-minute spoiler for the prize. As the lone member of the “royalty porn” category, voters who favor this type of costuming will automatically cast their vote here. However, the film did not reap a nomination for the coveted Costume Design Guild (CDG) award for period film. With 2012 being our final “royalty” winner (“Anna Karenina”), perhaps voters are tired of rewarding these types of pictures.

WILL WIN: “Phantom Thread”

SPOILER: “Beauty and the Beast”

SHOULD WIN: “Phantom Thread”

What do you think will win Best Costume Design? Share your predictions and favorites in the prediction center and comments below.

CLICK THE CATEGORY TO SEE THE OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |

ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT |