The Academy Awards are airing live on March 12, and for the first time, I have set out to break down every nominee in every category in order to assess, as accurately as I can, who and what has the best chance of winning. Today I will be discussing the nominees for Best Costume Design!
After such a big awards presence with La La Land, it’s jarring to see a Damien Chazelle having such a small number of nominations — but every single one of them is well-deserved. This is the first appearance of his Golden Age Hollywood epic Babylon in my breakdown of the awards, and while my personal feelings about Babylon are pretty mixed, it’s an undeniable fact that the costume design is absolutely stellar. The outfits and styles of every single main character are instantly iconic, and it would seem that each and every side character, however long they appear, is decked out as lavishly or simply as their role requires.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Ruth Carter’s win for costuming the first Black Panther was a major victory and a big surprise when it comes to superhero films at awards shows, so it’s only sensible to see her nominated once again for Wakanda Forever — a film with less opportunities to show off lavish costumes, but with a whole batch of new characters to clothe in a vast manner of fascinating regalia. The introduction of underwater nation Talokan, led by villain Namor, offered ripe opportunities with whole new worlds to create. Other new characters like Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) are either costumed “normally” or dressed up entirely in a CGI creation — an issue which plagues many parts of this film (see my Visual Effects breakdown for more on that front).
Read my review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever here.
Spanning several decades in the mid-20th century, Elvis has several opportunities to showcase the fashion of the time period — and showcase it does, to a fabulous extent, courtesy of Catherine Martin, Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-winning wife. An insane amount of work was clearly put into not just replicating several of the King’s iconic on-stage outfits, but also preserve the fashion of the 50s through the 70s, ensuring everything is as accurate as possible. Despite the blatant musical anachronisms, Baz Luhrmann’s films tend to be visually accurate, if sometimes in an exaggerated manner.
Read my review of Elvis here.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Weird and wild (as most things pertaining to this film are), the costumes for Everything Everywhere All At Once perfectly exemplify exactly how much effort was put into this film, even when it comes to a few frames that fly by in half a second. Utter perfection, ’nuff said.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
It would be impossible for the feel-good movie of the summer, which prided itself on showcasing such a wide variety of dresses and lavish costumes, not to be recognized in some capacity by the awards voting body. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a charming little film (all about fashion and clothing-making, as a fitting companion to the relationship drama concerning the main character), very well-worthy of a nod. I don’t think it will win — mostly because the costumes and scale are not nearly as grand as everything else on this list — but its presence here is most delightful.
What Should Win: Babylon
What Should Have Been Nominated: Three Thousand Years of Longing, The Northman
My Unrealistic Dream Nominations: RRR, Pearl, The Batman
The gold in this category looks like a two-way race between Mary Zophres and Catherine Martin. There are several reasons for this: Babylon is, visually mastodynamic, whether it's the scale of the sets (a staggering 120 locations were used) or the sheer number of different characters and costume changes involved, this is a film of epic proportions. As Margot Robbie's character, Nellie LaRoy, proudly states in her outrageously fast-paced and tantalizing trailer, "If I had money, I'd only spend it on fun stuff." With 7,000 costumes created for the film, it's clear the costume department was big. From its opening scene to the end credits roll, Babylon is a real visual treat.ReplyDelete
Elvis, on the other hand, represented hard work of documentation and craftsmanship for Martin in recreating the King of Rock and Roll's American opera of love, tragedy and death. For Austin Butler's character alone, Martin made 90 costume pieces. Meanwhile, to define Priscilla's styling and wardrobe, Martin partnered with fashion houses Prada and Miu Miu, who helped him design more than 25 haute couture ensembles, fully in keeping with the visual looks established by the film's cinematographer and production designers. Luhrmann's wife is highly respected among AMPAS voters - she already has four Oscars - and given the film's meticulous visual finish, coupled with her strong presence in the nominations, it's no wonder she's a shoo-in for a fifth time.
However, if the voting community wants to surprise in the distribution of gold, Jenny Beavan is the one to triumph, for her exquisite work in a film that exudes fashion and glamour from beginning to end. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a love letter to the house of Dior from which the veteran designer makes the most of it. Just look at the 20 replicas that Beavan and her costume designer associates Lauren Reyhani and Sally Turner made for the runway seen in the film, plus five dresses from the original 1955 Heritage collection on loan from the house of Dior.
Although Ruth Carter won the statuette for the first part of Black Panther, the feeling remains that the designs drink a lot from the 2018 source, although, it is worth noting that the Talokan culture incorporate novel costumes, I do not think voters are prepared to award a second statuette to Marvel Comics in such a short time.
Finally the newcomer to the category which while incorporating very striking design elements that fall like a glove to the Daniels' chaotic multiverse, I don't think it has too much punch to pass over its category peers. Barring a Return of the King, The English Patient or Slumdog Millionaire-style hecatomb scenario in which the Daniels sweep the night of March 12.