From 17th Century Japan to the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling, this year’s costume design Oscar race is typically wide-ranging, featuring many of the top talents in the field.
Period pieces always stand out, and one of the most vibrant displays this year is Jacqueline West’s work on Ben Affleck’s gangster picture “Live By Night.” Outfitting the somber hues of Depression Era Boston and the brighter casual colors of Tampa, West — a three-time nominee for “Quills,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Revenant” — was given a unique opportunity and ran with it.
“Live By Night” could run into trouble with critics, but thankfully this is a branch that doesn’t adhere to critical approval. That’s good news for films like “Rules Don’t Apply” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” too, which were costumed by Oscar-winning legends Albert Wolsky (“All That Jazz,” “Bugsy”) and Colleen Atwood (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Alice in Wonderland”), respectively.
Atwood has a number of films on offer this year, in fact, including sequels to her previous nominated work: “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” She may fare better with the “Harry Potter” spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” however.
Like Atwood, Dante Ferretti is a three-time Oscar winner — but in the production design realm. He’s once again teaming with Martin Scorsese, pulling double duty on “Silence” creating both sets and costumes (as he did on Scorsese’s “Kundun”). The film whisks the viewer effortless back nearly 400 years to the Japanese inquisition of Christianity.
Joanna Johnston’s threads for Robert Zemeckis’ World War II romance “Allied” have already received a concentrated push from Paramount Pictures, as Marion Cotillard’s various outfits in the film certainly grab the eye. Johnston was previously nominated for “Lincoln.”
Natalie Portman brought Jacqueline Kennedy to life in Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie,” owing plenty to Madeline Fontaine’s work in that regard, while in the realm of outright “costume porn,” there is Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship.” Costumer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh was tasked with bringing the world of Jane Austen to life. Consolata Boyle gave a sophisticated grace to Stephen Frears’ 1940s-set “Florence Foster Jenkins.” In a more reserved realm, there’s Erin Benach’s contributions to Jeff Nichols’ “Loving.”
Finally, “La La Land” is already poised to net an outsized number of nominations across the board. Mary Zophres’ dazzling wardrobe will certainly be in the thick of it, and may even contend for a win if the film turns into an Oscar sweeper. (Zophres also showed off her range, again collaborating with the Coen brothers, on “Hail, Caesar!”)
Other contenders include the posh intricacies of “Cafe Society” (Suzy Benzinger), the blue-collar designs of “Fences” (Sharen Davis) and the 1960s-set “Hidden Figures.” And something like “The Handmaiden” (Seong-hie Ryu) could be lurking as a possibility, too; this is a branch that refreshingly likes to go its own way.
And Laika, as ever, deserves to be in contention here. On “Kubo and the Two Strings,” Deborah Cook’s designs are once again phenomenal.
The Costume Designers Guild will weigh in first with a set of nominations in three categories — contemporary, fantasy and period — in January.