Categories One-by-One: Costume Design

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Costume Design

Postby nightwingnova » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:00 am

Unlike many of you, I find this category to be one of the easier second-tier ones.

Over the past half-decade, the Academy has chosen the movies with the most opulent and splashy historical gowns (The Young Victoria - 2009, Anna Karenina - 2012, The Great Gatsby - 2013) and the most creative alternative when there really wasn't such an option (Alice in Wonderland - 2010).

The one time one might argue that the Academy diverged was in 2011 when it chose Best Picture The Artist for its 1920s/1930s period work over the Elizabethan fashion of Anonymous. Perhaps Anonymous didn't provide enough splash and color? Certainly it seems that The Artist's popularity pushed it over Anonymous.

Note also that these winners come from either respectable historical productions, top drawer movies, or both.

From this, I would eliminate Mr. Turner, Inherent Vice and Maleficent.

That leaves Into the Woods and The Grand Budapest Hotel which don't fit neatly into the contest battles of recent years.

I would say that Best Picture nominee Hotel with its colorful and creative clothing and backdrop takes it over the underwhelming box office of Into the Woods.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Costume Design

Postby Sabin » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:53 pm

Another seemingly impossible to predict below-the-line category. This is an award that frequently goes to quaintish period, fantasy, or lavish blends of the two. Respectively that would favor Mr. Turner, Into the Woods, and The Grand Budapest Hotel for the win in any other year. And it’s rather hard to assess which of these films has the MOST costume design because the answer is: these three. And even then, one prediction I lost that still confuses me was in 2011 when Hugo (a win that would seem to foretell The Grand Budapest Hotel) lost to The Artist (a movie that only seems like it has the most costume design). That would seem to favor Mr. Turner, a movie with far more opulent production design and cinematography that may somehow be misinterpreted as costume design, for instance: "It looks pretty and costumes, as we know, are also pretty." This is also in recent years a category that fails to line up as much as it does. It would be smart money to bet on Hugo and Sweeney Todd taking both Production Design and Costume Design, wouldn't it? The last two times this happened was for two films nominated for only these two awards. That would seem to favor Into the Woods because Meryl Streep was nominated less for reasons of Into the Woods than for being Meryl Streep.

I'm going to predict The Grand Budapest Hotel but the more I think about it the more I'm talking myself out of it.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Costume Design

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:05 am

I'm with what Sabin said the other day: even if the acting categories go as now anticipated (though I think best actor is still alive, if not kicking), the downballot races should make for a reasonably interesting evening: production design, make-up and song are the only categories of which I'm fully convinced.

I haven't see Inherent Vice (hoping to catch up with it and America Sniper this weekend), but I don't think a film that divisive could possibly win an Oscar.

I agree with BJ that Maleficent is a second-tier candidate. It's neither a popular enough film nor an eye-popping enough set of designs to triumph.

Though I agree with BJ about the other three films being competitive, I don't have quite the same reactions to the work that he does, and I'm not sure I rank them the same as a matter of preference or likelihood.

To wit: I had much the opposite feeling about Mr. Turner's costumes. I thought they were perfectly serviceable, but I didn't think they had the bright splash of color that voters usually go for in this category. There were a few, especially later in the film, notable for their ornate quality. But for the most part I thought the costumes were (properly) workaday drab.

I will, though, endorse the thinking that Mr. Turner has a shot at, if not this award, another for which it's nominated, despite its relatively low major-category and box office profile. Partly I believe this by the same reasoning BJ uses: that the film's four nods will make it, if not top priority, something a fair number of voters will feel obligated to check out. But I also believe -- without proof, but by instinct -- that fewer people vote in these undercard categories. If close to all 6000 Academy members vote best picture and acting, I'd bet it's 2/3 or half that number casting ballots for categories some don't care so much about. There have been extremely small, barely-seen films have managed wins below the line (Marie Antoinette, for instance, and Leigh's own Topsy Tuurvy), and I believe a smaller, better-informed electorate is what makes that happen.

Back to the main thread: I again see the opposite as BJ when it comes to Into the Woods. I thought that film had far more obviously opulent costumes than Mr. Turner, and way more of them -- from the very start, but especially as the film went on. I think the film has strong win-potential. (And I'm not even sure voters will hate the Johnny Depp costume, despite how down the Internet is on it)

But voters may just resolve the issue by voting the best picture candidate, The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's true the film doesn't have many grand gowns -- or that many women's costumes overall -- but Milena Canonero's work is quite flashy and memorable regardless (I can call up Fiennes' costume instantly). Design and costumes can sometimes go together, and this may be one of those times.

But it's a very strong race, with any of the last three completely possible.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Costume Design

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:19 pm

I haven't seen Mr. Turner yet, but isn't it missing the flashiness of The Mikado costumes that probably helped push that film over the hump to get an Oscar. the Oscars don't always love grittiness. Topsy Turvy had that spectacle element to it that had to help.
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Categories One-by-One: Costume Design

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:13 pm

The Costume Design race strikes me as one of the more competitive down-ballot categories, which could be resolved in any number of ways.

This isn't to say that I think every candidate is in the running. For better and for worse, the costume designers are frequently willing to pick out candidates way outside of the main races, and Maleficent is the kind of big budget spectacle (like Anonymous or Snow White) that often gets a random nomination here. There's a lot of flashy stuff on display -- most obviously the iconic Maleficent costume but also a lot of regal wear on the rest of the characters. But it seems like too much of a one-off to trump more widely-liked movies.

It took a little while, but it seems like we're at the point now where the 1970s are considered period enough to routinely qualify for nominations here. The Inherent Vice nod took me completely by surprise (especially over qualified Best Picture nominees like Selma and The Imitation Game), but in thinking about it, there were some fun and kooky costumes on display, and you can see why voters were drawn to it. Still, if American Hustle couldn't triumph last year with huge Best Picture pull, I doubt the more alienating Inherent Vice could pull it off.

I wouldn't be surprised to see any one of the remaining three nominees prevail on Oscar night. There are a lot of eye-catching designs in Into the Woods, from Cinderella's glimmering ballgown to the Stepmother and stepsisters' gorgeous but trashy getups to the range of outfits for the Witch. That big wedding processional scene, especially, features a ton of extras dressed to the nines. It's possible, though that there isn't one costume that's dazzling enough to put the movie over the top -- and there is one costume widely viewed as bad in Johnny Depp's Wolf zoot suit. And I'd also feel more confident about the movie's chances if it had pulled in more nominations -- the movie sort of seems to be mostly a placeholder this awards season, getting nominations here and there that many view as respectable, but not generating any extra enthusiasm.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, as the nomination leader, certainly DOES have enthusiasm, along with a lot of candy-colored costumes on a wide variety of different characters. Wes Anderson's films have always had very detailed, singular costume work, but here, that sensibility has been transferred to a period setting, and it's very possible that the new milieu film could catapult the film into a win here in tandem with the Production Design prize, simply based on overall visual wow. But this race seems a lot tighter than Production Design to me, mainly because the kinds of costumes that fill Grand Budapest aren't typically the ones that prevail. There aren't a lot of fancy clothes -- especially fancy WOMEN'S clothes, which often carry the day here. The Academy usually goes for GORGEOUS in this category, less so clever and stylish, which is most of what populates Budapest.

I'm interested to see other people's takes on this category, but I'm currently leaning toward predicting Mr. Turner here. This film, too, doesn't necessarily feature wealthy folks' clothes, the kind that most often triumph here. But the period detail in the movie is pretty sensational -- one scene after another features richly detailed costumes, from the striking top-hat look of the title character to the ornate women's wear across various class spectra. It's the nominee here that most made me think "whoa, those clothes" upon leaving the theater. And though Mr. Turner didn't crack any above the line categories, the 4 down ballot nominations suggest respect for the movie across numerous branches, and the decent nomination haul should likely get voters to check it out before selecting winners in its categories. And the wins for Topsy-Turvy suggest precedent for Leigh's more lived-in take on period pieces to have success in design categories come Oscar time.

As I said, though, I think it's a very close race between Budapest, Woods, and Mr. Turner.

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