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?