Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars Predictions 2015: 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.



1. Milena Canonero

2. Anna B. Sheppard & Jane Clive

3. Mark Bridges

4. Jacqueline Durran

5. Colleen Atwood

This award rarely goes to anything other than pre-20th century garb, with occasional exceptions for the flashy duds of the ’20s and imaginative fantasy fare. Musicals are, of course, a favorite here (Chicago and Moulin Rouge! the most recent winners), so Into the Woods has more than a chance to win here, especially since its designer is an Oscar darling. Colleen Atwood has three Oscars under her belt (including the aforementioned Chicago), and this marks her eleventh nomination – but it’s far from her finest work. Cinderella’s chintzy, gold-lamé ball gown and the Wolf’s furry zoot suit are are lowlights among the rest of the traditional fairy-tale costumes. (Why not CGI the Wolf? Here was an opportunity to design the show in a way that couldn’t be done onstage and the team dropped the ball.) Here’s hoping that voters can give some love to another nominee.

Voters likely won’t be generous to Mr. Turner, which follows Britain’s early-19th-century master painter J.M.W. Turner (played by Timothy Spall). Sure, it’s England’s Romantic period, but the costumes are less elaborate and more lived-in, and showcase muted colors. Jacqueline Durran’s (Anna Karenina) work, based only on the handful of existing portraits of Turner and delivered on a tiny budget, is admirable. But non-glamorous period realism doesn’t often earn an Oscar, especially when it’s not nominated for a CDGA (the only nominee here that failed to garner a nod).

Katherine Waterston’s orange crochet mod dress and Joaquin Phoenix’s scruffy Neil Young-esque look are perfection in Inherent Vice, which mixes dope-head hippie-wear with straight-edged business suits. But if American Hustle‘s Michael Wilkinson can’t win an Oscar for ’70s fashion, Mark Bridges sure won’t.

Who doesn’t love a good (horned) headpiece crafted out of python skin? Or stylish accessories like a rabbit-teeth bracelet or a rodent-jaw ring? Basically, Maleficent‘s creepy couture lives up to her bad-ass reputation. (It’s almost as good as Colleen Atwood’s designs for the Evil Queen aka Charlize Theron aka the campiest performance ever in Snow White and the Huntsman. Almost.) But it’s unlikely she’ll rule this race.

The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s wardrobe stands out immediately because of its playful palette (purple liveries and, but it’s also chockfull of character-specific signature pieces like Madame D.’s (Tilda Swinton) 1930s Gustav Klimt-inspired coat and Jopling’s (Willem Dafoe) Prada leather trench. From pastels to pearls and finely tailored suits, the film’s period pastiche design for cast of hundreds is impeccably detailed and the standout in this group. No wonder: Designer Milena Canonero is a nine-time nominee and three-time winner. Colleen Atwood should watch her back.


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