2023 Academy Awards Predictions — Best Production Design and Best Costume Design

These are our 2023 Oscar predictions for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design, part of a series on this year’s awards. Check out full predictions in all Oscar categories.

Best Costume Design

  • Babylon
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Elvis
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Will Win: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Could Win: Babylon

Dark Horse: Elvis

There are a lot of question marks in this category for me, most of them related to Black Panther 2. Ruth E. Carter won the award for the same series in 2019. It was a sure thing that she was going to win, and everyone was on board when it happened. Now, she is up for the award again. But will the Academy go for a franchise sequel, especially one that did not show up strongly in this year’s nominations? Even the Angela Bassett of it all is becoming a question mark the closer we get to the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Babylon and Elvis both pose stiff competition. Babylon suffers from a less-than-stellar showing in the nominations, but the craft categories it did get noms for are one’s where it clearly excels. And Elvis remains this stalwart in the awards season. It is the type of film a large cross-section of the Academy can get behind, especially in these “below the line” categories.

I still think Carter’s work is strong enough to get her a second win. But it would be a strange scenario – the same costume designer winning multiple awards for films in the same series, and that series also happens to be a massive blockbuster franchise that the Academy has not quite known what to do with over the past decade. I might be missing the forest for the trees on this one. If so, Elvis just makes more sense.

Best Production Design

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • Babylon
  • Elvis
  • The Fabelmans

Will Win: Elvis

Could Win: Babylon

Dark Horse: Avatar: The Way of Water

I must confront something I have been coming up against again and again while writing these predictions, and this how I am valuing Elvis. The Academy has shown that they really like the film across the board. Austin Butler has a fair shot at winning Best Actor. As I was just saying, it stands to reason that the film would pick up some of these craft awards.

Babylon is the favorite here as of right now. And this makes sense, given how ostentatious the movie is. The production design of that movie is epic in scope and has good attention to detail (I personally love all of the outdoors Hollywood sets that they put together). I would not be shocked to see it win in this category. But, again, the film has consistently underperformed since its release. This was a film that initially had buzz over Damien Chazelle and Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt. Instead, we are seeing it pop up in a small set of categories (nominations that are all deserved, to be clear).

As for the other films, All Quiet shows up again, which means it must be accounted for. This is the type of film which could sweep the so-called “below the line” categories. Although, I would say that if it is going to miss out on any of said categories it would probably be this and visual effects. The Fabelmans, meanwhile, is a nice addition here but ultimately outclassed in terms of what the Academy is looking for in this category. Is the Academy going to give out an award for a 1960s high school gymnasium or a massive bacchanalian party in an ornate mansion estate? I’m not saying one is inherently better or worse, from a design standpoint, but the Academy is going to lean one way.

As for Avatar, considering most of its production design is CGI or augmented by CGI, the film will likely lose here and win in Visual Effects. To an Academy voter, winning both might feel redundant.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)


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