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It’s that time of year again! As we head into the final months of the year, we look back on a year of great film and television costume design and ahead to some of the most anticipated films of the year as the buzz of the award season has already started to grow.
This has been a historic year, with the creation of a Costume Designer’s branch of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this past January. With this decision, Costume Designers are no longer grouped in the Designers Branch with art directors, production designers, and set dressers, now resulting in costume designers holding more control over the nomination process for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
Costume Designer’s have already been honoring their own during the annual Costume Designer’s Guild Awards held in February. CDGA honors costume design in a variety of categories including Period, Contemporary, and Fantasy Film, as well as Contemporary and Period/Fantasy Television. Historically we have seen Oscar nominations bestowed predominately on films in the Period category, and secondarily in the Fantasy category, with very little attention paid to contemporary design. It will be interesting to see if the new AMPAS Branch structure will result in the Best Costume Oscar nominations more closely resembling the landscape of the Costume Designer’s Guild Awards.
Contemporary Film Costume Design
Stoker. Costume Designers Kurt and Bart (Bart Mueller and Kurt Swanson).
Kurt and Bart’s costumes for Stoker act as an additional character in the heart-racing twists and turns of this psychological thriller. They are strong front-runners for the CDGAs, and I’d love to see them at least nominated at the Oscars.
August: Osage County. Cindy Evans.
Early clips and images show beautifully lived-in, understated costumes for an all-star cast.
Oldboy. Ruth E. Carter.
Early clips and images show a gritty, stylized world in a new adaptation of the Japanese Manga and Korean Film that brings together long-time collaborators Carter and Spike Lee.
Period Film Costume Design
Great Gatsby. Catherine Martin.
Easily the largest spectacle of the season, husband and wife team Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin never disappoint with their larger-than-life, stylized period epics. Martin partnered with fashion brands Prada and Brooks Brothers to create a stylish world rich with details from the exquisitely dressed leads to a throng of extras.
American Hustle. Michael Wilkinson.
The buzz over the wonderfully accurate and downright sexy costumes from early clips and images is everywhere! The film has already earned Wilkinson the Hollywood Costume Design Award from the Hollywood Film Awards, and I expect the honors to keep rolling in as the award season progresses.
12 Years A Slave. Patricia Norris.
This film lacks some of the formal grandeur that we have seen in previous movies of the same period, but legendary costume designer Patricia Norris makes beautiful use of fabrics and details to support this heart-wrenching story.
Saving Mr. Banks. Daniel Orlandi.
Early clips and images show a beautiful range of impeccable, streamlined 1960s costumes.
The Butler. Ruth E. Carter.
Spanning almost 100 years of iconic American fashion, Carter recreates famous leaders and activist with great precision.
Fantasy Film Costume Design
Man of Steel. James Acheson and Michael Wilkinson.
The superhero film genre has come so far from spandex suits and modern city crowds from previous decades. With Man of Steel Acheson and Wilkinson have developed an entire world creating wonderfully sculptural council costumes and armor for the inhabitants of Krypton. The biggest design change to the Superman suit in decades has really jump-started this new franchise.
Thor: The Dark World. Wendy Patridge.
Another in the onslaught of highly conceptual superhero films developing an entire world of costumes, Patridge designed over 1,500 custom built costumes and managed an incredible $10 million budget.
*Whether it is Man of Steel or Thor: The Dark World, I am rooting for witnessing Oscar history this year with the first nomination of a superhero film for Best Costume.
Hunger Games Catching Fire. Trish Summerville.
The early buzz created for this film simply from Summerville’s expert partnerships with world-renowned designers better land her a fat raise! Early images show Summerville’s signature graphic styling, equal parts tough and sexy that won her a CDGA for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Ender's Game. Christine Bieselin Clark.
Clark made use of wonderfully inventive methods to craft the complex, high-tech world of Ender’s Game. She shows an expert eye for this type of highly conceptual design.
Contemporary Television Costume Design
Scandal. Lyn Paolo.
One of the most stylish shows on television, Scandal has received incredible praise in fashion magazines and garnered a cult following. Unfortunately, it was overlooked (along with many other contemporary shows) at the Emmy’s this year. Paolo’s designs for Olivia Pope and the rest of the characters show such careful precision and thoughtfulness that deserve recognition.
Revenge. Jill Ohanneson.
Ohanneson’s designs have nicely evolved with the characters and the writing over the course of the show. As the tension and contrast between characters have grown, she has demonstrated such an incredible range that is always fresh, no matter how many galas the Graysons throw!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ann Foley.
A new show this fall, Foley has already shown an incredible range in a show that brings us weekly in contact with characters and scenarios direct from the Marvel film franchise. She dresses a team of special agents and international bad guys flawlessly, but her designs for the nerdy scientist duo of FitzSimmons might be the cleverest of the series.
Blacklist. Christine Bean.
Another new Fall show. Seamlessly picking up where Amy Westcott left off from the Pilot, Bean designs an incredible spectrum of modern looks for special agents, crowd scenes, and a slew of visiting dignitaries and terrorists from every corner of the planet!
Representing Netflix well! Not only have House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black been critical hits and gained a large following of fans, but costume designers Tom Broecker and Jennifer Rogien dress two of America’s most imposing establishments, The House of Representatives and a maximum-security prison, respectively.
Anyone you would add? Remove? Let me know your predictions!