×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscars: ‘Mad Max,’ ‘Cinderella,’ ‘Danish Girl’ Highlight Costume Design Race

Just in time for Halloween, a deep dive into the threads of the season.

Halloween is around the corner, so surely film fans are trying to decide what 2015 movie-themed get-up to rock at this party or that. There are lots of options this year: Whitey Bulger, BB-8, Imperator Furiosa, etc. Perhaps today’s analysis of the best costume design Oscar race will get the synapses firing for last-minute shoppers.

Just as in best production design, covered last week, the costume designers — who finally got their own branch a few years ago — respond to ornate period and fantasy detail. Contemporary work very rarely figures in. So on the period side, we have to again start with “The Danish Girl.” Outfitted by Paco Delgado, who was Oscar-nominated for “Les Misérables” three years ago, the film is particularly notable in this field given Eddie Redmayne’s on-screen transition to transgender pioneer Lili Elbe.

Sandy Powell has 10 nominations and three wins (“Shakespeare in Love,” “The Aviator,” “The Young Victoria”) to her credit. She was a double nominee in 1998 and could be again this year with two drastically different films in the race: “Carol,” with its 1950s upper crust New York threads, and “Cinderella,” with its fantasy-leaning color explosion.

Speaking of color, John Crowley’s “Brooklyn” uses it well throughout the design departments, and that’s particularly so with Odile Dicks-Mireaux’s costumes. From conservative period garb to flashy swimsuits of the era, there’s just a lot at play. Dicks-Mireaux hasn’t been Oscar-christened yet, but the work here makes a strong case.

“The Revenant” and “The Hateful Eight” will be two interesting sides of a coin this year, not in terms of content, but in terms of an untamed aesthetic. Jacqueline West’s costumes on the “The Revenant” won’t be like anything else in the race, a blend of frontier garments and fur-trapper chic. She’s a two-time nominee, for “Quills” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

On “The Hateful Eight,” Courtney Hoffman gets a stab at outfitting a western. Films like “3:10 to Yuma,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and “Django Unchained” haven’t broken through for the branch in recent years, but maybe this one can.

Sticking with period, there is women’s suffrage drama “Suffragette” to consider. Turn-of-the-20th-century stylings courtesy of Jane Petrie play up a range, from working class threads to more elaborate outfits. Meanwhile, “Crimson Peak” — costumed by Kate Hawley — takes things much further, with wonderfully detailed work playing within a period/fantasy hybrid to eye-popping effect.

On the fantasy side of the scale there is “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Michael Kaplan) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Jenny Beavan). “Star Wars” is sure to get plenty of attention being a latter-year release, but Beavan’s work on “Mad Max” might be — for this viewer, anyway — best in show so far this year. It’s all instantly iconic, from the eponymous drifter to Charlize Theron’s emboldened Furiosa to the enigmatic antagonist Immortan Joe. Dare I say there’s no justice if the branch can’t recognize the brilliance on display here, and from an Oscar-winning legend (and nine-time nominee) who made her name on Merchant/Ivory costume dramas at that.

Elsewhere, the old Hollywood stylings of “Trumbo” could find their mark, or the period trappings of “Far From the Madding Crowd” (if there isn’t plenty enough to go around above). And like best production design, “Mr. Holmes,” “Macbeth” and “Pan” are lurking as well.

You can keep track of the costume design race all season at the category’s dedicated Contenders page.

So … did you decide what you’re wearing this weekend yet?

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Women in Animation Logo

    WIA Partners With Animation Mentor, Toon Boom to Expand Scholarship Program

    Women in Animation has partnered with Animation Mentor and Toon Boom to expand the organization’s WIA Scholarship Program with workshops and software packages. WIA scholarships are given to animation students with a financial need and who demonstrate talent and passion for animation that will lead to a promising career in the field. The Animation Mentor [...]

  • Steven Poster ICG National President

    DP Steven Poster to Receive SOC Lifetime Achievement Award

    Stephen Poster, cinematographer on such classics as “Donnie Darko” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” will receive the Lifetime Achievement Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Camera Operators at a ceremony on Jan. 18, 2020. SOC grants the award to an Individual who has served the community at large and/or the Society through outstanding service [...]

  • Swedes Call for Incentives to Keep

    Swedes Call for Incentives to Keep Potential Runaways at Home

    Horror film “Midsommar” did it last year. A new adaptation of the Swedish classic “The Emigrants” will do it next year. Prestigious productions that could have taken advantage of beautiful Swedish locations and craft expertise continue to run away to foreign locations for lower costs and tax incentives. Despite having a strong film industry creatively [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    Ireland Lures Filmmakers With Locations, Expertise and a 37% Tax Credit

    Few locations on earth can match Ireland’s proverbial 40 shades of green. In addition to its restful hues, the island nation also boasts alluring lakes, rugged windswept coasts, small charming hamlets, rustic farmhouses of aged stone, hilltop castles and breathtaking expanses of wild scrubland. Bustling and modern Dublin, Ireland’s capital, will be the largest English-speaking [...]

  • UNDONE Animated Series Amazon

    How Animated Series 'Undone' Used a Mix of Techniques to Tell the Mind-Bending Tale

    When Kate Purdy wanted to tell a story about the nature of reality, she knew she wanted to play with perception and time, fade in and out of memories and give voice to visions that only her main character could see. And it wasn’t long before the executive producer and co-creator of Amazon’s new series, “Undone,” [...]

  • John Wick: Chapter 3

    James Cameron, Keanu Reeves Starring in '2nd Unit: Invisible Action Stars' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Rootbeer Films has completed “2nd Unit: Invisible Action Stars” with James Cameron, Keanu Reeves, Mark Wahlberg and Halle Berry, Variety has learned exclusively. The film explores relationships between actors and stunt performers — a topic at the heart of Quentin Tarantino’s recent “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Joe Mantegna narrates “2nd Unit: Invisible Action [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content