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...
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?
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.
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.)
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.
and now... THE COSTUME DESIGN CHART