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Entries in Costume Design (121)

Thursday
Nov282013

Team FYC: 'Laurence Anyways' for Best Costume Design

[Editor's Note: The FYC series brings together all Film Experience contributors to highlight our favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Glenn Dunks on Xavier Dolan's latest]

Anybody who knows me knows I have been trumpeting Xavier Dolan’s trans epic Laurence Anyways since I saw it back in January. I experienced a lot of emotions during this gloriously decadent and painfully intimate affair on the big screen (as one should expect from a three-hour movie). Yet what caught me most off guard was the romanticism with which it painted images through costume. Oh sure, Dolan’s previous films had a way with the fashions – the suburban chic duds of I Killed My Mother and the hipster vintage of Heartbeats - but never had their colours felt so radical, their intent so cutting, their stories so vivid.

So many of my lasting memories of Laurence Anyways rotate around the clothes. In fact, the first thing we see of our lead character are the clothes. There’s the symbolic baby blue business attire with hot pink accentuated shoulders in the opening scene. There’s the billowing aubergine purple coat that threatens to consume the entire screen. There’s the paperclips as fingernails. And then, of course, there’s the film’s centrepiece sequence as the divine Suzanne Clément struts into a new wave ball to the throbbing beat of “Fade to Grey” by Visage. As her black and white spider-cape is removed to reveal a body-hugging metallic dress she joins revellers outfitted in the finest 1980s designer wear. It’s a room full of gigantic pink bows, lemon yellow princess dresses, puffy crimson floor-length gowns and stylish tuxedos with visor accessories. That scene deserves a nomination alone.

Credited to both François Barbeau and Dolan himself (ever the multi-hyphenate), the two won a Canadian Genie for their work (alongside the equally dazzling make-up). I’m not sure if the Academy are entirely up to handing out nominations to minimally-released 3-hour foreign-language films about the journey of one person from man to woman, but if ever a branch was to go out on a limb it’d be the costumers. The work of Barbeau and Dolan is inspiring and inspired in equal measure. The costumes are lux and quirky, singular and sprawling. Much like the entire film, really. Laurence Anyways just isn’t Laurence Anyways without them and when a film feels so defined by its costume work, the Academy should pay attention.

previous FYCs
Cameron Diaz in The Counsellor | Spectacular Now for Best PictureMakeUp for Warm Bodies | Sound Mixing in World War Z 

 

Wednesday
Nov202013

Bellissimo, Piero

Tim here. All of the online chatter around the honorary Oscars handed out over the weekend has focused, not unreasonably, on the actors who received awards: Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Angelina Jolie. After all, they're famous, and in at least one case wildly iconic and beloved. But going unnoticed in the widespread Lansbury love-in (which, to be entirely clear, I support enthusiastically) is the fourth award recipient on Sunday, Italian costume designer Piero Tosi.

Making this lapse even worse than simple snobbery against below-the-line talent, Tosi has as many Oscar nominations as the other three individuals put together: five total, to Lansbury's three, Jolie's two, and Martin's zero (not even a writing nod!). Since that would apparently make him the most conspicuously overlooked among the honorees, I think it's only respectful and right to give the man his due: and what better way than a short gallery showcasing the five films that brought him Oscar attention in the past.

 

The Leopard (1963)

Death in Venice (1971)

Ludwig (1973)

La Cage aux Folles (1979)

La traviata (1982)

Tuesday
Nov052013

Curio: Vivien's Many Faces

Alexa here, weighing in with some curios for TFE's Vivien Leigh Centennial Celebration.  It seems unbelievable that Vivien made only 19 films, with her face leaving such an indelible mark on the cinema landscape.  And, oh (as Kendra's book celebrates), that face! I think only Cate Blanchett can today approximate the expressive prisms that were Vivien's eyes.  With that in mind, here are some lovelies that celebrate her cinema career.

Three costumes from Caesar and Cleopatra, painted by C. David Claudon, available in print form here.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct282013

Edith Head, Googled

I miss the Google Doodle's that were interactive. Sigh. The glory days that evaporated so very recently. But today's honoree is a rare TFE appropriate treat. Google's banner is honoring Edith Head, 8 time Best Costume Design Oscar winner on her 116th birthday.

She won her Oscars for The Heiress (1950), Samson and Delilah (1951), All About Eve (1951), A Place in the Sun (1952), Roman Holiday (1954), Sabrina (1955), The Facts of Life (1961) and The Sting (1974) but the nominations were practically endless. For comparison's sake, today's reigning costume queens Sandy Powell and Colleen Atwood have but 10 nominations and 3 wins each -- stunning track records unless you place them next to Edith's 35 & 8!

My favorite modern tribute to Edith Head's costuming dominance, though, is still "Edna Mode" from The Incredibles (2004). The resemblance being perfectly uncanny, though Edith would still tower over her mini-me Edna at 5' feet 1½

This is as good a time as any to tell you that TFE will be debuting a new series this week "Threads" wherein we'll start giving Costume Design its (weekly) due. We'll begin with 82 year old Patricia Norris who after a longish absence from the movies is back with 12 Years a Slave.

Friday
Oct182013

Yes, No, Maybe So: Grand Budapest Hotel

Hospitality is all about speed, charm and mind-reading. Get them checked in, ingratiate yourself, anticipate their every need. Movies have to do that in reverse so the new poster (discussed) and the trailer have arrived to charm and anticipate our needs. Will you check into his GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL in Spring 2014? Let's check off our yes no maybe so boxes...

YES

• ohmygod the colorology! I'm in ♥ with all the reds and purples and whites on view here. Wes Anderson movies may all look exactly like Wes Anderson movies but they do change up the color palette, so points for that.
• And speaking of which... I really think costumers and production designers on his movies do not get enough credit. It's insane to me that Karen Patch, for example, wasn't Oscar nominated for her instantly iconic work on The Royal Tenenbaums. This time it's the legendary Milena Canonero (on her 3rd Anderson picture) and Adam Stockhausen (who graduated to Production Designer on Moonrise Kingdom), respectively.
• If Wes Anderson were a hotelier, I imagine he'd have to run a very small exclusive boutique, building the perfect meticulously designed dollhouse rooms for his devout fanbase and repertory actors to squeeze into. I would glady pay rack. 
• Ralph Fiennes as a ladykiller concierge named "Gustav H"
• Tilda as an unrecognizably old rich lady horny for him? 

NO

• Oh noooos. Tilda dies to kick off the plot? That's too little Tilda.
• ...Especially since the cast list is otherwise a total sausage party. 

MAYBE SO

• Why is this trailer square? Is Wes challenging himself with an old school aspect ratio? [update after writing: yep, apparently there are three aspect ratios here] I know people complain about his center framed horizontals but I LIKE horizontal, and love his unique aesthetic.
• Do you think this one will skew too forced whacky? (the roundelay of face-punching, the skiing) or too precious (the secret code, the name of the painting, the "lobby boy" cap)
• ...can a Wes Anderson movie even be too precious? Or, if so, should they all be animated like Fantastic Mr Fox?
Moonrise Kingdom will be hard to top but he doesn't need to. Even his least satisfying movie (The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) still has all sorts of corners and hallways and portholes to look into and at.

THE TRAILER

Are you a yes, no, or maybe so... and in what ways? Do tell.

Wednesday
Oct022013

7 Notes on Revised Oscar Charts

Hey y'all... I've been hard at work this week updating all the charts. Yep, every. single. one. So herewith ten notes for suggested comment fodder. 

Mystery Meat
American Hustle and Saving Mr Banks are the Oscar Bait Unknowns... unless you assume that Wolf of Wall Street will be finished in time. All have, to my knowledge, not been screened for even long lead critics. Most pundits, armchair or otherwise, believe in Hustle wholeheartedly (one assumes due to David O. Russell's recent track record) and are suspicious of Banks (one assumes because of the dangers of Disney-on-Disney hagiography but maybe also because movies-about-movies aren't always Hugos; sometimes they're Hitchcocks). So far I'm not expecting a lot of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty but maybe that's a stealth masterpiece about to blow us all away. Which of the unseens are you hoping deserves space in the Best Picture race?

 All Over The World
The foreign film charts are so much work and every site now covers this category that I once had a stranglehold on. I wonder if they're worth the time anymore (?) but I do love my subtitled pictures. We currently have 69 official submissions and only two have what you might call a truly high profile (Hong Kong's The Grandmaster, and Iran's The Past) though I'm not at all sure that they're the strongest candidates this year. Take a look at the charts from Afghanistan to Italy and Japan to Venezuela! Which films are you most curious about and do you like the influx of variety here? The world is giving us animated films, documentaries, horror films, romances, you name it, in addition to the usual heaping helpings of war dramas, biopics, and childhood journeys. If you follow this race closely you should know that Team Experience is on it: Tim saw Egypt's entry, Jose took in the Czech Republic submission, and I reviewed the Romanian and Iranian entries and Glenn and I both loved the Cambodian entry though we haven't written about it yet. More to come.

The Coronation March
I understand that with Best Actress there's a lot of "It's Sandy vs. Cate" hoopla in online forums at the moments. Bullock is in very good shape for a nomination, true (I'm just being slightly contrarian to leave her out at the moment though I don't think she's anywhere close to 'lock' status yet) but I'd be very shocked if she ever gained enough momentum for a second win. A) it's not that kind of role since there's no "bait" beyond sad tears B) she's not that kind of actor to win a second unless competition is weak or the role is super bait C) Oscar has never in 85 years indicated a deep well of goodwill for actors working auteur pieces or actors in science fiction films. So unless Amy Adams is our stealth champion, I think Cate will be sweeping for months ala The Queen... and lord knows she is one.

Sell Yourself
Oscar campaigns can make a huge difference for movies and performers that aren't slam dunks. Armies of publicists and awards strategists are already working on their maneuvers though we won't see it till it happens. The films I personally think need smart campaigns the most are those in wide open categories (like animation) or those that will get zilch if they don't have one, either because they're perceived as "small" or because they're in the middle ground of praised but not rapturously so or they're well liked but there's no automatic "in". I'm thinking of films like Prisoners, Short Term 12, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, Labor Day, Blue is the Warmest Color, maybe even The Great Gatsby and Rush (the latter two I'm currently predicting to win the double edged sword prize aka the "most nominations without a corresponding Best Picture nod"). I realize it's a diverse lot but my point is they could all score anywhere from nuthin' to three or four nods, depending how well they play the game and whether they can condition AMPAS to think of them quite naturally when it comes time to ballot.  

• Sound and Fury
We've seen in the past that there's only so much room for blockbusters in the visual and sound categories if big showy prestige dramas have the wow elements and necessary "size" (think Gravity and Captain Phillips and maybe even Gatsby to a limited degree). When Tony Stark suits up the visual effects voters ALWAYS respond but the sound guys have only thrilled to his particular blast offs once. With Superman and various Kryptonians wreaking such loud havoc this year could the Man of Steel steal tech nods from the Man of Iron... or maybe they're both shut out and World War Z rises? Oscar doesn't really go for zombie films but there's a first time for everything right and maybe a couple of tech elements could be honored?

• Dress You Up
I can't believe we've come this far into the film year and I haven't waxed rhapsodic about Best Costume Design. I will rectify that soon including an interview with one of the true legends of the category. One of the things I've always liked about the costume designers is that they don't always stay in lock-step with Best Picture so it's anyone's guess. There are a lot of candidates worth considering including Lee Daniels' The Butler (crocheted disco suits!), Dallas Buyer's Club (80s trans glamour and redneck Texas), period finery versus humble wool in 12 Years a Slave, the sexpot disco glam of American Hustle... I could go on. One thing I'm curious about is Trish Summerville for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. People loved her work on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and though the original Capitol costumes (by a different designer) didn't win a nomination they did get a lot of media attention. How will these fare in comparison? 

• Sing-Along?
Will no one speak out or care about the Original Song category? It still seems entirely bereft of nominatable tunes... hey, if that's what it takes to get Short Term 12 nominated for something than that's what it takes. If we were nominating Best Song Performance we'd be singing a different tune entirely because, hello, Black Nativity divas and Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac because good god his voice in Inside Llewyn Davis! I didn't love the movie beyond the cat but his voice is just golden. 

CHECK OUT THE CHARTS AND COME BACK AND DISCUSS!
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | ACTRESS | ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SCREENPLAYS | VISUALS | SOUND | ANIMATION | FOREIGN FILMS
Suggestions on how to improve the charts are welcome

 

Saturday
Sep072013

Oscar's Honors... But Where is Mia Farrow?

Glenn here. First things first: let us congratulate the four people selected by the Academy to receive statues at their annual Governer's Awards in November. The names are screen (big and small) and stage legend Angela Lansbury, five-time costume design nominee Piero Tosi, actor and comedian Steve Martin, as well as Angelina Jolie who will be awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

I think we can all agree that the first three names listed there are bona fide deserved winners. Lansbury with her nominated screen roles in Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray (which I think made her the first person ever nominated for both their debut and sophomore performances?) and perhaps most famously as the wicked puppet master mother in The Manchurian Candidate, not to mention also appearing as the voice of sweet Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. She ranked #7 on The Film Experience's poll of women who deserve an Honorary Academy Award so there's one name we can strike off the list. It's hard to argue also with the selection of Steve Martin, and it's especially a breath of fresh air to see the Academy honour another comedian with their honorary award as if to say "Yeah, look, we know!" Such a shame audiences will be denied getting to see these two fabulous icons on stage at the Oscars.

And while his name may not be as familiar, Italian costumer Piero Tosi is no stranger to Oscar. He's been nominated five times including for such famed films as The Leopard, Death in Venice, La Cage aux Folles, and La Traviata. He has not worked since 2009 so it's now or never and we can all applaud the Academy's continued celebration of craftsman in these categories.

However, I'd really like to know what you guys think of the choice of Angelina Jolie. I don't think anybody would begrudge her her success in bringing the plight of refugees to the front page of national magazines and into movie cinemas (Beyond Borders and her directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey both did this albeit to questionable success) as well as her many other humanitarian efforts alongside United Nations. Still, by the end of the year, Jolie will be a two-time Academy Award winner. She's only 38 and has plenty - plenty! - of time to win another (whether for acting or directing or whatever other forte she chooses to venture into). What next? George Clooney? Opra... Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, poor ("poor" in a metaphorical sense, obviously) Mia Farrow continues to sit there wondering what on Earth she has to do to get noticed by these people. She could easy be recognised with an honorary Academy Award for her acting (her years alongside Woody Allen as well as Rosemary's Baby attest to that) or for her humanitarian efforts of which there are many. Hell, her goodwill nature is so well known and so strong that she was immortalised on an episode of Laura Dern and Mike White's Enlightened

Given her lack of nomination to this day one has to wonder whether people within the Academy view her in a certain unflattering light. Why that'd be so, I have no idea. You'd think the fall out from her marriage to Woody Allen would have made them want to honor her even more, no? I guess not. Of course, I doubt Farrow is too bent out of shape over it: one doesn't commit themselves to activism in the hopes of winning an Oscar. But wouldn't it be nice to see them rewrite multiple wrongs instead of giving Jolie her second statue? And if not Farrow then surely there are still plenty of other worthy people who are Oscarless to this day that have done a lot for charity and the community. 

Nevertheless, congratulations to all the winners. May the brief montage they allow us to see of your ceremony be funny and enlightening and prove that y'all deserve to be on the main stage.

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