Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Dressing Them Up; or 2012 Costumes

Voilà, Incoherent Oscar conversation from your host returns for the New Year.
Honestly, there were no insidious undertones behind me talking so little about Oscar related things this season. What with me being the worst blogger ever (or so says Anna) and this season happening so fast (Oscar nominations next week? Say WHAT?) and okay, fine, just the slightest bit of antipathy towards general Oscar wrangling Oscar prognosticating took a backseat to….everything else.
BUT, as suspect as my actual predictions always turn out I do like writing about the Oscar season (reason: to be determined) and since I entered Shane’s Oscar contest, for the hell of it, I decided I’d officially make some notes before the nominees are announced. If you’ve read my Incoherent Oscar Predictions of 2012 or my Oscar Talk of 2011 you’ll already know I will talk about any and everything when discussing potential nominees.

I’m already feeling potential wave of ennui regarding the main categories, and like I often do, the “less prestigious” categories almost always gain my attention. The newly renamed production design category is one of my favourite Oscar categories (looking forward to talking about that soonish) and like the corresponding hair and makeup and costume categories is all about dressing up their respective films. But, dressing up is – at the heart – about the clothes. It might sound reductive considering how often award voters tend to regard pretty for pretty’s sake and not utilitarian. But, “dressing up” is not always about looking pretty….but you couldn’t tell that looking at the top contenders.


Question, if the category is costume design shouldn't animated films be rewarded for the designs of the costumes in them?

Even as I’m always willing to defend good individual artistic work in less than stellar films, I must confess I get more than a little anxious that Snow White & the Huntsman could appear as a multiple Oscar nominee – and not just because I loathed the film.
Even the somewhat serviceable artistic work was hardly worthy of year end plaudits and even as I’m a fan of Colleen Atwood, I’m displeased to think that she may be headed to a 10th nomination with the film. But who to prevent her from a citation?

As per normal there is an embarrassment of riches to consider in the costume design category. What I tend to appreciate about the designers (and some other technical branches) is that the remember films which aren’t getting attention in larger categories which is why under the radar films like W.E., Coco Before Chanel, The Affair of the Necklace and 102 Dalmatians have managed to be nominated here. But, in a year when so many of the big contenders have costume friendly work – will any smaller or forgotten film be remembered? It’s rather simple to make a ballot of films that are likely to earn multiple nominations from the Academy. For example, consider:

BATCH ONE: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Misérables

That shan’t be the line-up, but it could be. All films are likely headed to multiple nominations and are likely contenders for their costumes. But, it couldn't be that easy, could it? I could then make a line-up of film divisive films or ones which, for some reason or the other, aren’t as certainly headed towards Oscar love – with fine costumes that are almost definitely going to be getting at least a few #1 votes. Consider,

BATCH TWO: Anna Karenina, Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom

And, then, I still haven’t considered the blockbusters, biopics and fantasy epics which always end up posing a threat in some form. Consider,

BATCH THREE: Dark Shadows, Hitchcock, The Hunger Games, Mirror, Mirror, Snow White & the Huntsman

So, ta-da, three different potential line-ups for this category and we’ve still not even considered if the designers really get invested in films like,

BATCH FOUR: Bel Ami, Lawless, On the Road, A Royal Affair, Wuthering Heights.

What to do, what to do? 2009 and 2005 stand out as the only years in the last 13 years where a corresponding best picture nominee wasn’t nominated here. This is, truly, an apropos of nothing because as I’ve mentioned designers like what they like regardless of "important" or "big" movies. But, when major best picture contenders have such lavish costumes there’s no reason to expect them not to make an appearance, right?

So, from batch one there’s no reason not to expect Les Misérables to end up here. From there, Lincoln seems like an easy follow and it probably is but then in years of packed contenders best picture contenders like Inglourious Basterds, There Will Be Blood, Black Swan all went consciously without nods. So, I’ll leave Lincoln in the maybe slot and head down to batch two where Anna Karenina surely cannot be ignored, right?
Jacqueline Durran is my favourite un-Oscared designer and her work on Anna Karenina has been earning acclaim backwards and forwards. From there we turn to….The Hobbit. No reason to not include, it with its gorgeous costumes, right? But, then, even in the wake of Lord of the Rings love The Two Towers went without a citation in 2002 and The Hobbit hasn’t been as lucky critically. Add that to the maybe pile, along with the time travelling shenanigans of Cloud Atlas which could make sense, but then again could not…

 Musings on which costume contenders seem like sure things...
....and my predictions for the category below the jump...

 So, batch three…. On, one hand what better way to reward Eiko Ishioka than with a posthumus nomination for her work on Mirror Mirror? And as obvious as Atwood may seem as a contender with Snow White and the Huntsman she’s also facing competition from herself with her work in Dark Shadows. So, I’ll say Eiko slips in and Atwood remains in the maybe pile for Dark Shadows, and Weiss for her Hitchcock work.

Then, on to batch four. I want to say, surely the costume designers will look for their own and remember the stunning work from Margot Wilson, right? But, then, who is paying Lawless any attention in this season. The sumptuousness of A Royal Affair makes more sense in that regard. So, Lawless goes in the maybe pile and A Royal Affair moves on.

Right now, my ballot for costume design goes would be a Russian tale, a reinvented Snow White, a musical and a foreign royal drama. That sounds workable.

In the maybe pile we’ve got Cloud Atlas, Dark Shadows, Hitchcock, The Hobbit, Lawless, Lincoln, Snow White and the Huntsman

Even that looks like a likely ballot….see how up in the air things can get? Ultimately, I think voters could very well be rather taken with the plethora of costume work on display in Cloud Atlas even though I know it might seem foolish ignoring Best Picture certainty Lincoln…and maybe that does reek of too many maybes, so I’ll swap the foreign for the American at last bet…and so in dressing them – here’s who I predict for Costume Design:
PREDICTIONS (alpha): Anna Karenina (Jacqueline Durran); Cloud Atlas (Kym Barrett, Pierre Yves-Gayraud); Lincoln (Joanna Johnston); Mirror Mirror (Eiko Ishioka); Les Misérables (Paco Delgado);

ALTERNATES (by probability): A Royal Affair; The Hobbit; Dark Shadows; Hitchock

Will the voters spend as much time ruminating on their ballots as I do ruminating on their ruminations? I say yes. Will their ballots look like what I predict? Questionable.

What do you think is heading towards costume nominations?


Mette said...

Enjoyable read - the costume category is actually one of my favourites too. It was, for example, one of the reasons I watched Young Victoria... and as you said, it's great to see some "less prestigious" films being honoured (I was so glad to see Bright Star mentioned in... 2011?).
Personally, I don't think I'm that qualified for a prediction, as I haven't seen enough of the 2012 must-see films (also the reason I never write any predictions myself), but I'm pretty sure The Hobbit and Anna Karenina will be nominated. It would be wonderful to see Moonrise Kingdom here too, I think.

Squasher88 said...

Glad to see you writing about Oscars again.
I think Anna Karenina is a lock and Lincoln is probably pretty safe too, riding on the coattails of Lincoln love. I think Les Miserables will land there too and maybe A Royal Affair. Not so sure about the Snow White movies. With The Hobbit, I think it's a stronger contender for Hair and Makeup.

Nikhat said...

I really hope that Ishioka gets nominated. Those costumes were so much fun and out there.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

mette glad you enjoyed the ramblings. i, too, was glad at the bright star love in 09. i was a bit put out that it was getting zero precursor love for main categories, and the costume nod was a nice make-up. this year the field just seems SO packed. i anticipate some surprises.

shane even though i quaked and included it, i could very well see lincoln NOT getting in here and i mean, ishioka is a former winner and recently deceased and her costumes are glorious, so who knows?

nikhat they were. that film depended on its costume and production and design, which makes me suspect it has a fighting chance in those categories.