The Oscar Project
Last week, I wrote up some information on two categories of nominees, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. This week, I have several more posts lined up, starting today with the Best Costume Design nominees. Unlike the categories last week, Best Costume Design only lists one person on each nomination.
This category, along with the nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling which I plan to cover tomorrow, help create the visual style of the characters in a film. You usually find two types of films in the Best Costume Design category, science fiction/fantasy blockbusters and period pieces and this year is no exception to that rule.
Mary Zophres gets the nominations started in this category. It is her fourth nomination after being previously recognized for True Grit, La La Land, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Throughout Zophres’s career she has worked extensively with the Coen brothers, costuming all of their films since 1996’s Fargo. She has also worked on several Steve Spielberg films, a few films by the Farrelly brothers, and now three films with Damien Chazelle.
This film was the largest challenge of her career to date, with over 7000 total costumes appearing on screen throughout the film. The L.A. Times had a wonderful article earlier this month titled “Elephant poop, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt: Dressing the ‘Babylon’ cast has ups and downs” showcasing a number of the looks featured in the film, along with some stories behind their creation. This could very well be Zophres’s time to finally win her first Oscar.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Ruth Carter made history several years ago when she became the first African-American to with the Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on Black Panther. She is back in the category again this year for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, after previously receiving nominations for the Spike Lee film Malcolm X and Steve Spielberg’s Amistad. Carter has collaborated with Lee on a total of 12 films and has clothed such acting greats as Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, and one of this year’s Best Supporting Actress nominees, Angela Bassett.
I actually know the most about her work as I am in the process of reading a preview copy of a new book coming out in May titled The Art of Ruth E. Carter. I’m just about finished with it, and it is a fascinating look into the world of a costume designer including the process she goes through to work with the director and actors on a shoot, bringing in little pieces of the characters from all involved. EW also published a wonderful article last month on Carter’s work on Wakanda Forever. Be on the look out for my review of Carter’s book coming soon and look for Carter to potentially land her second Oscar win this year.
Catherine Martin is one of two nominees in this category who has won previously. Both times Martin has won an Oscar for Best Costume Design (Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby) she has also paired it with Best Production Design wins. This year, she is again nominated in both Best Costume Design and Best Production Design and shares a producing credit on the film with her husband and the film’s director, Baz Luhrmann which gets her included in the Best Picture nomination. She has been the costume designer for all of Luhrmann’s films since Moulin Rouge!, including a number of short films he directed in 2012.
Again, I feel it’s appropriate to reference an article from Vogue titled "How Catherine Martin Crafted Elvis’s Dazzling, Vegas-Worthy Wardrobe". The article showcases a number of the costume choices in this film and shows that even re-creating some of the most iconic styles from the King of Rock isn’t always a walk in the park.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Shirley Kurata is a first-time nominee in this category, but it feels like much of the emphasis for this nomination comes from the costumes for just one character, Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu). The looks for this character alone could easily land Kurata the nomination, but add to that the fact that the film was made on a very limited budget and you have a story that showcases a true rising star. An article titled "How Costume Designer Shirley Kurata Outfitted the Multiverse" from The Wrap explains the approach Kurata took to working on this film.
In addition to the amazing costumes for Tupaki, there are also plenty of challenges in place for a film that gives glimpses into alternate universes where the characters play completely different roles in the world. With that comes a completely new set of costumes depending on which universe they inhabit at any given time. Look out for a possible win here, giving Kurata her first win on her first nomination.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Our last nominee, Jenny Beavan, was a bit of a surprise to me on nomination day last week, but having seen the film, I was pleasantly surprised that she was recognized. This is Beavan’s 12th nomination for Best Costume Design and she has won the award three times before for her work on A Room with a View, Mad Max: Fury Road, and just last year on Cruella. It would be hard to find three more different films to win this award for, but between them they check off all the typical types of films you see in this category.
This film in particular was interesting in that the whole focus of the story is on a Dior dress and the film doesn’t work if those dresses shown on screen aren’t wonderfully designed. Focus Features has a wonderful interview with Beavan titled "From Dowdy To Dior: Creating The Costumes For Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" that posted last summer going into more detail on how the looks for the film were created, including the dresses that were re-made based on actual Dior pieces from the time period of the film. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beavan win this award as a dark horse, but worry that the reliance on pre-existing dresses might downgrade the work ever so slightly.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?