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Entries in Costume Design (160)


Missi's Oscar Night Memoir

We return you to our celebrity guest-host Missi Pyle... at The Film Exp The Missi Experience. Just one more post after this gorgeously fun memoir. Enjoy - Editor


The 84th Academy Awards. An Oscar Night Memoir
- by Missi Pyle

I just want to take a minute to talk about The Artist. Holy shit. What an incredible experience that was.

Tiny back story. I left LA in 2008. I had married this guy from Montana with a grizzly bear sanctuary. I bought a geodome in the woods in Montana and moved in with said Grizzly man. I truly don't know what I was thinking. I had made some decent money in the previous year and I thought I could act from Montana? (Spoiler! Only Michael Keaton and Jeff Bridges can act from Montana - I wrote a show about it) Anyway, the marriage didn't work out and I ran out of money and came crawling back to LA.

I randomly had auditioned for, gotten the part and shot the film The Artist. It was really an incredible experience. But in my wildest dreams I never imagined the ride it would take me on.


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Team FYC: "The Boxtrolls" for Costume Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Andrew on The Boxtrolls.

Will an animated film ever get a fair chance of making it into Oscar's costume design category?  

This past decade alone, the stop motion wing of animated film has impressed with characters from Corpse Brides to Foxes Fantastic. It's a shame to ignore fine costume design simply because it's not happening in a live action setting. Enter: this consideration for The Boxtrolls for a myriad of reasons.

The intricate designs amaze with their attention to period detail - there’s almost no question that were this a live action film Cook’s work would emerge as a significant contender. The levels of eccentricity, too, push it up beyond your standard period fare.  I’m moved to think of Jacqueline Durran’s Oscar-winning work on Anna Karenina (2012), which wasn't just ornate as period work but also overwhelmingly in touch with the idiosyncratic tone of its film and the characters inside it. From Winnie to Lady Portley-Rind to Mr Trout and onwards The Boxtrolls is an impressive case of costume actually informing character. When a character's costume is so specific it couldn't work for another character, you know it's on to something. For The Boxtrolls, costumes are not incidental (which makes the ommission of Cook's name from the credits for her work on IMDB's page for The Boxtolls that more egregious).

Laika Inc (the studio that brought us ParaNorman and the excellent Coraline) seem to be campaigning hard for Deborah Cook's work to make Oscar history. It’s an ambitious goal and, like acclaimed motion capture acting, it's probably a long road before this becomes an Oscar reality, but the fact that her work is being acknowledged and publicly discussed is a step in the right direction.

If we were to ask you to name five films this year where character attributes are so reflective in and dependent on the specificity of the costumes, wouldn’t The Boxtrolls be on your list? For sheer beauty and innovation wouldn't it make your top three? That’s a good enough reason to launch a rousing campaign for Cook’s work.


Thoughts I Had... While Looking at Cate Blanchett's 'Cinderella' Poster

Take it away Margaret...


  • If you've got (1) Blanchett looking imperious, or better yet (2) Blanchett looking imperious in a fabulous hat, I'm already sold. I sort of hope the whole movie is just Cate posing with glacial elegance in an increasingly imposing series of chapeaux.
  • Now that she's bagged Oscar #2, the time might just be right for her to try some camped-up villainy. 
         * pretending Indiana Jones 4 doesn't exist, pretending Indiana Jones 4 doesn't exist *
  • I love Cate as a redhead. Reahhhlly I do.
  • And oh look, It's DAISEH from Downton Abbey! Hi, Daiseh! I stopped watching your show in season 2 but I think it's safe to say whatever Julian Fellowes is doing with you, you deserve better.
  • Merciful heavens, the florals are strong with this one. Is that supposed to be what makes them wicked? A heavy hand with competing patterns?
  • Something about the stepsisters being decked out in those bright shades of pink and yellow makes me think of the Power Rangers. I will now be taking volunteers to write the treatment for a Cinderella/Power Rangers crossover.
  • The Oscar campaign for Most Costume Design 2015 starts now. Our gal Sandy Powell should start drafting gloriously blunt acceptance sound bytes now.
  • Not sure what to make of the March release date. Certainly when a big studio picture with no major competition opens in March it has potential to take off into an enormous hit (à la Eyesore in Wonderland or Oz the Great and Powerful) but by that same token it's often where weaker films get sent when they can't hold up against the blockbusters..

What does this new poster bring to your mind?


Interview: Toa Fraser and the 'Cool Runnings' of the foreign language race.

Glenn here. If you had ever wondered what a pre-colonial New Zealand western may look like, Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands just may be it. The film's story of revenge taken by a Maori chieftain's son after the slaughter of his tribe and family is very typical fodder for the western genre, but with its use of indigenous languages (a language that itself has been slaughtered throughout history) mixed with local mythology and lore, the film proves an entirely unique proposition. It's only the third foreign language submission in the small island nation's history, and the first to be set before white settlement. I spoke to the director last week, just a few days before his film received the biggest haul of nominations at the New Zealand Film Awards. The Dead Lands received 14 nominations and will face stiff competition from the inspirational chess drama The Dark Horse with 13. We talked about about the festival circuit, Oscar campaigning, being the underdog, historic authenticity, costuming and more.

 You have recently played at Toronto and London film festivals, and now you're a submission for the Oscar, how have these last few months of yours been taking this film around the world.

It's been amazing. We only finished the movie a few weeks before we went to Toronto and I had only seen it once in its entirety before we screened it at Toronto so it was kind of a high stakes game. We had, I think, six cast members come to Toronto and be a part of the experience, so it was a great premiere and we were very happy with the way that it was received. We were very grateful. And then to get back to London for the festival was also great. We had a great big group of Maori come down to the show and stand proudly at the side of the stage without telling us they were coming. They all had a great time. And then back to New Zealand for the premiere there, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I am very proud of the movie and love talking about it. Good times.

Have you by any chance been given any education on campaigning techniques when it comes to the Oscar? Is it a big deal in New Zealand or do you take it stride?

We are the Cool Runnings of the foreign language race [laughs]. You know, I think we're only the third ever from New Zealand…

Yeah, it is, after The Orator (2011) and White Lies (2013).

Yeah, and we're up against some formidable and very established industries that make movies in languages other than English. So, we under no pretense we have… we're the underdog in this game, but in terms of strategy? No. I understand there are very strict rules and so I'm anxious not to suck up. We're from New Zealand, we're very play by the rules types.

More on Peter O'Toole, costumes, and action choreograhy after the jump...

James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare and Toa Fraser on the set of 'The Dead Lands'

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Threads: "Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe"

Each Wednesday in "Threads" we'll be obsessing over a single costume we're fixated on that week. This one's an apology: how on earth did Snowpiercer get left out of those Halloween Costume Suggestions yesterday?

Tilda Swinton spends the bulk of her screentime in Snowpiercer, now on DVD, in a politican-conservative white top and matching skirt adorned with medals. Well, as white as clothing can be in the sooty environs of this dystopian movie where the earth's only living citizens have lived on a speeding train for decades. But when we first see her she's wearing an burnt orange fur with matching tinted glasses, over a brilliant purple skirt suit and boy does it pop surrounded by the grays, blacks, and dour miserabilism of the train. The costume's purpose? Surely to intimidate with its wealthy grandeur and add to that same miserablism. Or, as costume designer Catherine George put it in an interview with Clothes on Film, her inspiration was

...images of women from the from late 60’s/early 70’s, a certain type that I remembered growing up who would wear their fur to go into town and scoff at people who were less better off, a bit of a Margaret Thatcher type, really. The suit was a typical conservative politician shape and style – the purple has the royal quality and it pops with the colour of the fur.

Minister Mason launches into her instantly classic "Be a shoe" monologue in this ensemble in order to put the low class citizens in their 'back of the train' place.

The costume is glorious but Tilda is crazy enough to be hideously unattractive within it. Despite her fashion icon status and ageless alien beauty, the actress has always been without vanity as a performer and the cinema is all the better for it.  The tables are eventually turned on Mason, a self proclaimed "hat" to inferior "shoes," and she is forced to wear a shoe on her own head.

A shoe is not a hat. Except when Tilda wears it, fully revelling in its absurdity.

New group fantasy for the weekend: What if everyone on earth dressed up as their favorite Tilda character this weekend? All  these unforgivingly cruel and icy dystopias that are so in vogue would melt away leaving a Swintonian Utopia in their place.

Snowpiercer is now available on Netflix Instant Watch 
Related: this year's Oscar race for costume design 
Previously on "Threads": Outlander 


Top Ten: 2014 Movie Characters For Halloween Costumes

Halloween hits on Friday. Are you prepared to see Elsa & Annas & Olafs everywhere you look for our first post-Frozen dress-up holiday? That billion dollar 2013 smash will surely dominate. As for 2014 movies it goes without saying that you'll see a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy  and sometimes full teams. Team costumes on Halloween are the best but the key to their worth will be in how they handle adorable memorable Groot. Groot costumes will range everywhere from the godawful to the 'how'd they do it' spectacular, depending on creativity and budget.

Here are the characters / movies that would be the neatest tricks to pull off that would make the biggest treats for The Film Experience if fully sewn or creatively cobbled together by overachievers.

(Say no to store bought costumes!)


10 "Full Metal Bitch" 
The great takeaway of Edge of Tomorrow or Live. Die. Repeat. or All You Need is Kill or whatever they're calling it today is that Emily Blunt is a badass. Rita, the feared warrior within, practically begs for a life outside of that movie since she is so iconized within it. Good luck pulling off all the metal armor and weaponized accessorizies. And how to look exactly like Emily Blunt while doing it and not "Random Robot Girl"... that's your challenge.
How to win Halloween in this costume: Get a male sidekick in a similar outfit who is shorter than you. Or drag along weird alien carcasses behind you.

"The Shailene Woodley and eight more costumed curveballs after the jump

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Things Johnny Depp's 'Into the Woods' Costume Makes Him Look Like

Margaret here, examining the first image released of Johnny Depp as The Wolf in Into the Woods.

Take it in. There is a lot going on here. Allow me to guide you through it via the magic of list-making.


1. A first-round cut from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy auditions
2. Zsa Zsa Gabor's mustachioed coat rack
3. The illegitimate lovechild of Carmen Sandiego and Templeton the Rat
4. A pile of 1970s car seat covers in dire need of a shampoo
5. The Mask when he watches Cameron Diaz sing for the first time 
6. The "after" in a poorly executed "Smokey Eye" makeup tutorial
7. Johnny Depp on a regular Thursday
8. Fanciest presenter at the WerePimp convention
9. A Zoobilee Zoo
10. A Halloween costume assembled from whatever was left at Party City at 8pm, Oct. 31
11. Villain of Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit live-action reboot
12. Zorro making a surprise cameo in the "What Does the Fox Say?" video
13. A magically animated bearskin rug
14. Cruella de Ville's less fashionable younger brother
15. A Very Manly Muppet or a Muppet of a Man
16. The pirating industry's most sought-after stylist
17. Fantastic Mr. Fox cosplayer
19. A molding vintage print ad for mustache wax
18. Huggy Bear
20. [Insert name of any widely ridiculed celebrity offspring here]
21. What Johnny Depp is supposed to look like when he finally works with someone other than Tim Burton
100. a wolf

Any suggestions for additions to the list?

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