Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2012: Best Costume Design

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. THE ARTIST

2. JANE EYRE

3. W.E.

4. HUGO

5. ANONYMOUS

Missing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Let’s just get this out of the way now: The Artist is going to win. The Costume Guild Awards winners won’t be announced until February 21st, but the silent film has already swept various awards, including BFCA Critics’ Choice Award for Best Costume Design. Mark Bridges considered Joan Crawford when helping create the silent  film actress character of Peppy Miller, as both women share a similar career arc, and he took inspiration from  John Gilbert and Douglas Fairbanks for George Valentin’s look. Though Bridges (The Fighter, There Will Be Blood) has never before been nominated for an Oscar, it’s clear that his ability to use fabrics, textures and even colors that translate exceptionally into black and white, coupled with the fact that the 1920s glam Hollywood fashion of furs, flappers and feathered headpieces is total Oscar bait, will win him his first gold guy.

While I didn’t take too kindly to the critically-acclaimed adaptation of Jane Eyre, there’s no denying the gorge costumes: even the primmest of Ms. Eyre’s dressing gowns are beautifully detailed with delicate lace trim, silk flower embroidery and satin lace-up boots. Michael O’Connor, who won an Oscar in 2008 for Keira Knightley vehicle, The Duchess, is officially our go-to guy for highly researched, authentic Victorian fashion.

Naturally the Material Girl would call upon Arianne Phillips, who designed four tours and seventeen music videos for the pop star, to costume her period drama, W.E.. Nominated once before for Walk the Line, Phillips is responsible for one of the two redeeming features of the otherwise dreadful film (the other being the vibrant Andrea Riseborough’s dedicated performance as the titular Wallis). The Duke of Windsor was one of the most stylish royals, and with the collaboration of Dunhill, Phillips was able to create his iconic high-waisted day suits and the famous navy tails, and of course all those fabulous couture outfits that the fashionable Wallis was known for.

Though many have placed Hugo in a solid position for spoiling The Artist‘s chances here, it doesn’t seem likely despite its period garb and fanciful silent-movie (within the movie) costumes. This marks three-time winner and frequent Scorcese collaborator Sandy Powell’s tenth nomination, and after her rather tasteless acceptance speech for her The Young Victoria win two years ago, I rather hope the Academy will reward a fresher face. Y’know: one that’s not “feeling so greedy.”

And I’ve saved the best for last: who in their right mind thought Roland Emmerich’s melodramatic, sepia-toned, sloppy Shakespearean flick would be nominated for anything? My friend ACT and I sure didn’t, which is why we had some fun by timing our DVD viewings so that we could live-comment on the film, resulting in the only tolerable (and tipsy) way of viewing Anonymous. While we were both quite found of a rather impish white, sparkly number donned by super-actor, Mark Rylance (why is he in this film?), first-time nominee Lisy Christl didn’t exactly wow us with her derivative takes on Elizabethan dress. Shakespeare in Love (Sandy Powell) and Elizabeth (Alexandra Byrne) are better examples of the period by far, both earning their costume designers well-deserved Oscars. Better luck next time, Roland.

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2012 by in Award Predictions, Costume Design, Film Reviews, Oscar-Nominated.

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