Best Costume Design Predictions

Current Predictions (10-07-11):
Sharen Davis, The Help
Sandy Powell, Hugo
Mark Bridges, The Artist
Joanna Johnston, War Horse
Michael O’Connor, Jane Eyre

Costume Design Notes (10-07-11): Similar to Art Direction, the Costume category tends to shy away from dynamic or unique designs in favor of more obvious, grandiose fare. This year’s leading contenders offer an interesting blend of films and designers alike. However, four out of the five best bets really don’t deliver something different to chew on.

Jane Eyre will be the popular choice here. And, yes, of course, the costumes are remarkable. I just wish that something beyond  Victorian dresses could take home the prize. While I enjoyed Michael O’Connor’s work in Jane Eyre, it’s too similar, to my eye, to his Oscar-winning work in The Duchess. Jane Eyre will almost definitely be nominated (and rightfully so) but I pray the Academy strays from its comfort zone and tends towards one of the other nominees.

Hugo and War Horse are classic Costume set pieces, each displaying mid-20th century European garbs, specifically highlighting the typical fashion of younger people during that time. I feel like we will not see anything we haven’t seen before though I expect the work of Powell and Johnston to be detailed as always. Powell’s won the award three times. She’s one of the few recognizable designers working, but I think it may be time for her to share the wealth.

The Help is the kind of film that gets in based on its (somewhat) unique period detail. Again, nothing really stood out though it’s a very obvious costume piece that wears it period quality on its sleeve. I did find the costumes a bit “costume-y” throughout the picture though. I felt like these are the types of garments I could get from a rental house if I simply wrote down a time and place. The maid’s uniforms were shockingly, well, uniform, which was a major turn-off. Yet, the idea to have a oneness to the maids did work for the movie’s fairy tale structure. The real dynamic work comes in the differing clothes of the white women. Unlike the maids, they each have a specific flare that provides insight into important traits about their characters. If the Academy sees this not as a historically accurate piece but a fairy tale parable then these costumes might shine.

Lastly, I really look forward to the costumes in The Artist. It’s the kind of detailed stuff that often gets overlooked and this is one of the few areas were black and white doesn’t mask a lack of detail but highlights it. If the suits and dresses are as stunning as I expect then this could be a courageous choice by the Academy. Plus Mark Bridges finally deserves praise for some of the more adventurous costume work in recent memory, especially his work with Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood + Punch-Drunk Love, specifically).

Good Bets:
Sharen Davis, The Help
Sandy Powell, Hugo
Mark Bridges, The Artist

Strong Chances:
Joanna Johnston, War Horse
Michael O’Connor, Jane Eyre
Jacqueline West, The Tree of Life
Deborah Hopper, J. Edgar
Jacqueline Durran, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Arianne Phillips, W.E.

Possible But Not Probable:
Lisy Christl, Anonymous
Jill Taylor, My Week with Marilyn
Denise Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method
Consolata Boyle, The Iron Lady

Bad Bets:
Jenny Beavan, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Eiko Ishioka, Simonetta Mariano, Immortals
Pierre-Yves Gayraud, Albert Nobbs
Jany Temime, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
Anna B. Sheppard, Captain America: The First Avenger

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