With 12 days until Oscar let's focus on 12 time Oscar nominee & 3 time winner Colleen Atwood for today's trivia post. As first reported on this site, and since echoed everywhere on other sites for years now, one of the most delightful if idiosyncratic Oscar facts is that Ms Atwood does not win the Oscar unless she is competing against Oscar's other 12 time nominee & 3 time winner, Sandy Powell, and vice versa. We thought this endearing stat would be dismantled last season via either Carol or Cinderella for Sandy Powell but she lost both bids with her peer Atwood out of the race. This season Powell is sitting one out (she had no films released in 2016) while Atwood returns to the short list with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Curiously the situations are reversed next year when Sandy Powell returns with two likely sartorial showcases...
...via the punk & aliens oddity How to Talk to Girls at Parties and Todd Haynes' Carol follow up Wonderstruck which finally reunites him with his original actress muse Julianne Moore. Colleen Atwood will be sitting the year out with no pictures scheduled for release. Perhaps they'll square off again in 2018 (Powell's Mary Poppins Returns vs. something from Atwood... Tomb Raider? Fantastic Beasts 2?) allowing one of them to win again.
COLLEEN ATWOOD'S OSCAR HISTORY
- Little Women (1994)
- Beloved (1998)
- Sleepy Hollow (1999)
- Chicago (2002) WINNER
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
- Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) WINNER
- Sweeney Todd (2007)
- Nine (2009)
- Eyesore in Wonderland (2010) WINNER
- Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
- Into the Woods (2014)
- Fantastic Beasts (2016)
But let's get more specific and personal. I'd argue that the following 7 films contain Atwood's Best Work. They are (in chronological order)...
MARRIED TO THE MOB (1988)
Not nominated but we'll definitely cover this film in our Three Fittings series around the time we hit it during "Pfandom". The costumes are a constant source of delight throughout the already delightful movie. And, as with her work in Tim Burton's best films, Atwood's invention and inspiration isn't just reserved for the principal actors.
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
Not nominated but so iconic.
ED WOOD (1994)
Not nominated for costumes but the deliciously fuzzy sweatered and quirky work on dozens of true "characters" is special. They preferred her more traditional lovely costuming of Little Women in that same year but, to be fair to Oscar, it was an unusually competitive year: 1994 is surely among the strongest Oscar lineups of all time in that category.
SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)
If Colleen had to lose this particular Oscar, perhaps the worthiest work of her Burton-specific career and the apotheosis over her fantastical gothic habits, at least she lost to something as genius as Topsy-Turvy (1999)
Okay so she didn't need to WIN the Oscar for this one but the costumes commit to the razzle dazzle and in relatively unobtrusive ways (unlike similar later effort Nine). This was a strange year for Oscar as the worthiest winner was not even nominated despite a high profile (Far From Heaven)
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005)
Won the Oscar -- but let's be honest. It's the type of film that wins costume design Oscars even if the costumes aren't this good.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012)
Among the most imaginative and impactful costuming of any fantasy film. The dropoff in quality between this and its sequel, also designed by Atwood, is kind of alarming though.
What are your favorite Atwood designs? And do you embrace or reject Oscar's constant fascination with her puffy shoulders and ornate gothic fussiness?