Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2013: 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

Costume contenders snow-white-and-the-huntsman

1. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

2. MIRROR MIRROR

3. LINCOLN

4. ANNA KARENINA

5. LES MISÉRABLES

Maybe it’s because I’ve watched it the most recently, or because I’m a bit (weirdly) sentimental about the designer of the Hottest Mess to Ever Hit Broadway Ever, but I was so enthralled with  Eiko Ishioka’s couture renditions for the classic Snow White fairy tale that Mirror Mirror topped my list for about 5 seconds. Snow, in an elaborately embroidered floral and pink satin dress, dons a gorgeous, silky-smooth marigold flowing cape; the evil queen sports an apple-red number with a striking halo of peacock plumes; servants stand in for a human game of battle ship, with cheekily detailed hats in ship-shapes; and the “giants” (i.e. the dwarves) earn their name as, Zorro-masked, they spring through the forest on their ballooning accordian legs that would (most delightfully) be better suited to the stage. While the Tokyo-born designer’s death early last year may give her a surge in votes, she’s unlikely to win. But boy, those costumes beautifully elevate an otherwise creativity-starved, utterly superfluous film.

Because one silly Snow White film isn’t enough, we also had the giddy pleasure of Snow White and the Huntsman (remember this is the film during which K-Stew screwed her director, breaking poor Robert Pattinson’s heart). This movie is ridiculous and strangely über-feminist, but is also fantastically fun, as my friend Aaron and I proved one drunken night. Charlize Theron’s gloriously camptastic Queen Ravenna is matched only by Colleen Atwood’s over-the-top creations which emphasize the queen’s hard exterior and bird-of-prey mentality: claw-rings and metallic crow-feathered collars; gowns, suggesting a scaly reptile, covered with turquoise beetle shells (yes, real beetle shells); delicate dresses hardened with capped sleeves made of bird bones (replication only, PETA!). Having just won her third Oscar only two years ago, no one’s going to be in a hurry to reward Atwood again, but she certainly deserves it for these brilliant and gorgeous designs.

First-time nominee Joanna Johnston’s Civil War-period suits and lush layers of petticoats are dramaturgically impeccable, but no one, and I mean no one, is considering Lincoln for this award.

Les Misérables is an actual contender here, though one (namely me) wonders why: Surely Paco Delgado’s costumes are beautifully torn rags and pristine uniforms, but who really knows since we never get to see anyone below the shoulders in Tom Hooper’s extreme close-up of a film. If Delgado goes home happy, it’s essentially a win for that blue factory bonnet Hathaway dons at the beginning of the film, as it’s the only costume piece with any real screen time (so close to those wide, watery eyes!). I kid — sort of.

Keira Knightley is either Jacqueline Durran’s lucky charm or her curse. The designer was previously nominated for her work on Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, both starring the British waif. Lucky for her, it looks like third time’s a charm: while critics weren’t thrilled with director Joe Wright’s highly conceptual take on Anna Karenina, they were utterly enamored of its production values, including the extravagant costumes. With a directive from Wright to emphasize 1950s couture, Durran created a mashup of historically accurate 1870 dresses with bodices inspired by the likes of Christian Dior, Lanvin and Balenciaga. The result is stark silhouettes with cinched waists, bedecked in rich fabrics and lavish furs; striking feathered and laced headpieces and necks dripping in Chanel diamonds. It’s a near-certainty that Anna will soon have another handsome accent: that gold statuette.

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2 comments on “Oscars 2013: Best Costume Design

  1. A-Ron
    February 2, 2013

    You really think Anna’s win is that certain? I hope you are right.

    And this gem: “If Delgado goes home happy, it’s essentially a win for that blue factory bonnet Hathaway dons at the beginning of the film, as it’s the only costume piece with any real screen time (so close to those wide, watery eyes!)” might be without peer in your entire writing career. I positively squealed with delight upon reading it.

    Like

    • Julie
      February 2, 2013

      No, I don’t think it’s that certain, but the odds are in its favor. I hate to break it to you, but if Anna doesn’t win, Les Mis will (wtf). And while I do think it’s the superior of the two, and that the costumes are very pretty, I just wasn’t very impressed (with the costumes or the film — I’m sorry, I know how much you love it).

      And I’m glad you enjoyed that blue bonnet as much as I did 😉

      Like

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