Oscar History

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Early Bird Oscar Predix: The Costume Designers

Whether or not you think Catherine Martin has already won this year's Costume Design Oscar - paging pink-suited Jay Gatsby! -- the upcoming battle for Oscar nominations is hardly an easy read even if there are only four spots to sashay towards in your suit & gown finery. Costume Design is my favorite Oscar race outside of all the Actressing, not frequently for what the Academy chooses but for the breadth and depth of the competitive field each year. Here's a few questions I'm already asking myself and by extension, you. So join me in the sartorial contemplation...

Steven Noble's work on "Two Faces of January" looks just divine in stills. How's the film?

This far ahead of the nominations (only 242 days to go!) it's anyone's guess and anyone's game. 

Which frequently forgotten designer will finally get the red carpet welcoming committee? 
The possible answers are plentiful so let's talk four of them. Your guess is as good as mine why The Lone Ranger's Penny Rose, who has delivered truly iconic costumes in major Costume Parade Jobs over the years (Evita and Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl being the standouts) has yet to be nominated. I actually find it quite insane. Another frequent miss is Louise Frogley, the favored costuming goddess of the Oceans gang (both Soderbergh and Clooney call on her services). She could snag an easy nomination this year for Monuments Men but then again WW II films are hardly done deals in this category since there are a) numerous options to choose from each year b) she's been ignored for this period before (The Good German) and c) this category doesnt always choose Best Picture nominees for their nominations even if they're WWII films - remember when Inglourious Basterds missed?

plunging necklines will spice up "American Hustle" this year

For now I'll make a wild guess and say that this year's frequent snubbee finally are two: Saving Mr Banks' Daniel Orlandi and/or American Hustle's Michael Wilkinson. Orlandi been passed over for blatant Oscar-bids like Cinderella Man and Frost/Nixon and though a nomination was never going to happen for his cheeky 60s homage Down With Love that doesn't mean it shouldn't have! Will this Walt Disney/Mary Poppins era behind-the-screen story feel like grotesque corporate hagiography coming from Walt Disney Pictures or will it be good and fun and visual enough to earn respect from AMPAS members? Meanwhile,  American Hustle's Michael Wilkinson is temporarily leaving the undoubtedly lucrative but respect-challenge realm of fanboy pictures (Watchmen, TRON Legacy, and 300 among others) for David O. Russell's first true period film. Will the plunging necklines on Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence catch Oscar's eye? Oscar totally stands at attention for those two beauties.

Ben Barnes and Jeff Bridges in "Seventh Son" with costumes by 2 time nominee Jacqueline West

Will any of the many genre flicks make inroads here this year? 
There are just so many to choose from. Thor, Wolverine, Supes and Iron Man will undoubtedly cancel each other out even for people who love superheroes. If voters don't feel like returning to Middle Earth for another Peter Jackson fantasy, other genre films that could catch the costuming branch's eye include Seventh Son (with Julianne Moore as an evil feather caped sorceress), the apocalyptic or cyborg-riffic (Snowpiercer and Elysium), or even Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The first Hunger Games missed a nomination despite being quite Costumey at points but the new designer is Trish Summerville and people really went for her punk edge on David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.   

Which rising stars will make it?
With Oscar's Holy Trinity (Sandy Powell, Milena Canonero, and Colleen Atwood each have three Oscars) not strongly in the discussion yet --at least at this writing -- which rising design stars might finally gain a foothold? I'm currently betting on Steven Noble whose work on Two Faces of January is drool-worthy from a distance. But will people like the film? (Patricia Highsmith adaptations are tricky things to pull off.) 

Kurt & Bart -- I'm not sure which is which... and no they are not boyfriends

And how about that Kurt & Bart team who might be the hipster favorites of the Costume world now given their club scene origins and indie entry into cinema (see John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus). They have three films this year. Their work on Stoker already wowed (though that film will win nominations only if hell freezes over or Identity Thief competes for Best Picture) and they also did the clothes for Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart follow up) and the showy-Leto-drag and skinny-McConaughey for Dallas Buyer's Club



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Reader Comments (13)

Why are so high on The Railway Man? Do you now some inside buzz? I don't think it even has a US distributor yet or confirmed for 2013.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

murtada -- i am not particularly high on it though i think it will obviously be done in time (whether or not it's released in time is another matter)... but its obviously the kind of stars and story they like. It sounds a little dull to me but then so many prestige WW II dramas do.

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Some other costume design contenders:
The Immigrant
Lovelace (?)
Romeo and Juliet
Saving Mr. Banks
Thérèse Raquin

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJesper L

michael wilkinson is a sweet, lovely man - i'd love for him to get some oscar attention - but, if not, surely measuring the inseams of the man of steel, bradley cooper, matthew goode, garrett hedlund and the cast of 300 is reward enough

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Whoever is costuming the Diana movie has A LOT of material to work with.

Diana was a fashion icon and many of her outfits became classics.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I don't think both Diana and Grace will be too much for them. Remember the two Snow Whites this year.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Cal that would be Julian Day who is also doing Ron Howard's "Rush" this year

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Goodness, American Hustle already won my heart with the on-set photos of the hair, wigs, and makeup. I don't even care if it is never featured in the movie but Bradley Cooper's pink hair rollers gave me new respect for him as an actor.

And I was not aware of The Two Faces of January. Highsmith adaptation with Viggo and Kiki? In! Hossein Amini, you better not screw this up!

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

If Watchmen couldn't get in (Multiple crafted superhero costumes, period detail, a couple (Silk Spectre II and Ozymandias) with massive and appreciable changes from the source material and all shockingly gorgeous to look at), I doubt the genre will ever get in.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

oh please do the acting predix categories!

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertony

Oh forgot one more that I think could become a serious contender if it gets a distributor in US. "The Invisible Woman" directed by Ralph Fiennes and costumes designed by Michael O'Connor!

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJesper L

I like your Michael Wilkinson - American Hustle guess, and your contemporary wishlist too (The Bling Ring, and Only God Forgives). I'm anticipating loving the costumes of Anchorman 2, but I don't expect it to pop up on awards lists.

I recently visited a Hollywood Costumes exhibition in Melbourne and it was amazing. Given your love of costumes, I really hope this exhibition comes to New York, if it hasn't already passed through, because I'm pretty sure you would love it. Remember that Debbie Reynolds memorabilia auction? It feels like you're wandering around that auction catalogue.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKat

I didn't realize The Two Faces of January was going to look so stylish. Kirsten Dunst looks wonderful in an elegant classic style (we already knew that about Viggo).

Of the many often-in-the-running designers, I admit I have a soft spot for Lizzie Gardiner. She won me over with the dress she wore to accept her Oscar, the dress made out of gold American Express cards. I'm surprised some people call it one of the worst Oscar dresses. It's one of my favorites.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

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