The costume design in the 2019 race is, all around, very good. And the nominees run the gamut of generic representation. Fantastical period piece musical. Western pastiche. Semi-futurist science fiction. 18th century British period piece. A 16th century British/Scottish period piece, as well.
It is a varied field with a lot of talent.
- Black Panther
- Mary Poppins Returns
- Mary Queen of Scots
- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
- The Favourite
Will Win: Black Panther
Could Win: The Favourite
Dark Horse: Mary Queen of Scots
An initial look at the nominees makes me believe this is a toss-up between The Favourite and Black Panther. There is something more traditionally “Academy” in Sandy Powell’s work on The Favourite. But two things are working against the film winning outright.
First, Powell is a double nominee in the category (the other being for her work on Mary Poppins Returns). In regards to costuming, The Favourite stands out much more than Mary Poppins Returns. But there is a slight chance that Powell splits her own vote.
Second, Alexandra Byrne’s work on Mary Queen of Scots is also quite good, and the British court costuming is somewhat similar to that of The Favourite. The Favourite is superior, I think, but the similarity in design could split the vote even further away from Powell.
Conversely, there is something distinct and novel about Ruth E. Carter’s work on Black Panther. The costuming in the Marvel film is quite brilliant, and there is nothing else in this category doing something aesthetically similar.
If this is truly a toss-up between two films, then I think Black Panther has the unique design that will put it over the top. On the other hand, the notion of a superhero film winning an Oscar for Best Costume Design is uncharted territory. The genre is not what the Academy traditionally awards, outside of categories like visual effects and sound design. All the same, the cards appear dealt in Black Panther’s favor.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)