We don’t have to get into it. Not really. But did the Academy not see the dresses in Portrait of a Lady on Fire? Or Jamie Lee Curtis’ outfits in Knives Out? I mean…c’mon. Usually, I will put a still from one of the relevant nominated films here as a means of priming the conversation. Instead:
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.
Best Costume Design is an award that traditionally has gone to the most showy, flowery, and baroque costuming. Of course, there are always exceptions to this idea. Nominees are often period piece films. But not always. There is a fairly clear formula, but there is wiggle room therein.
Best Costume Design is never the hardest category to predict. In general, the most ornate or baroque costuming lends itself to a winning film. Most years, there are only one or two clear front-runners to choose from.
This year is not entirely different, but there are a few different scenarios in which this category could go.
Costume design is perhaps the most visually present thing to judge when it comes to film awards. It can be difficult to determine what films deserve to be nominated for an award like Best Editing. But costumes? Extravagant and showy and you’re in, right?
Not necessarily. Extravagance is certainly a variable, but costumes vary wildly from film to film and from genre to genre. A film like Beauty and the Beast is going for flashiness, where a film like The Shape of Water is going for period authenticity or a film like Blade Runner 2049 is going for a science-fiction sleekness.
With the more mise-en-scene driven categories, every nominee seems to be a horse apiece. Perhaps I simply do not have an eye for makeup or costuming, but judging films against each other in these categories gets difficult.
In the case of Best Costume Design at the 2017 Oscars, though, I think I know where I’m going…
Best Costume Design
There is a general formula to the Academy’s taste for costume design, and it generally involves period pieces. This year will be no different, although La La Land is not a period piece, per se, it merely feels like it is coming from a classical Hollywood time.
Let’s get into Best Costume Design nominations.