By now, you’ve probably heard about the 2016 Oscar nominations. The films nominated for Best Costume Design are: Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Revenant. But, we all know the history of the Best Costume Design Oscar shows that the award doesn’t always go to the best designed film — usually it’s the showiest, or the most famous designer, or some other consideration. And, of course, most contemporary films are ignored in favor of historical or fantasy spectacles.
Luckily the Costume Designers Guild has their own awards, which helps to bridge the gap — especially because they have sub-categories, including contemporary film, period (this year’s nominees are Brooklyn, Carol, Crimson Peak, The Danish Girl, and Trumbo), fantasy, and commercials.
Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to find out who is the Frock Flicks community’s pick for Best Costume Design. Obviously we only care about historical films, so all others are right out. Let’s take a look at the films that were eligible for the award, add our own nominees, and pick our own winners! Whichever one wins the poll, we’ll record a special podcast, and we’ll make sure to review all of the top five on our blog.
Eligible Historical Films for 2016 Best Costume Design
I went through the official list of Oscar-eligible films (yes, there’s an official list!), and here’s ALL the historical (i.e., pre-1970) ones. (And before you ask, Cinderella, Pan, and Seventh Son aren’t included — because they’re fantasy!)
The Age of Adaline: “A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After many solitary years, she meets a man who complicates the eternal life she has settled into.” Costume designer: Angus Strathie.
Bone Tomahawk: “Four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers.” Costume designer: Chantal Filson.
Bridge of Spies: “During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.” Costume designer: Kasia Walicka-Maimone.
Brooklyn: “An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.” Costume designer: Odile Dicks-Mireaux.
Carol: “An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman.” Costume designer: Sandy Powell.
Child 44: “A disgraced member of the military police investigates a series of nasty child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union.” Costume designer: Jenny Beavan.
Crimson Peak: “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds — and remembers.” Costume designer: Kate Hawley.
The Cut: “In 1915, a man survives the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, but loses his family, speech, and faith. One night he learns that his twin daughters may be alive and goes on a quest to find them.” Costume designer: Katrin Aschendorf.
The Danish Girl: “A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.” Costume designer: Paco Delgado.
Effie Gray: “A look at the scandalous love triangle between Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his teenage bride Effie Gray, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.” Costume designer: Ruth Myers.
Experimenter: “In 1961, famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested ordinary humans willingness to obey authority.” Costume designer: Kama K. Royz.
Far From the Madding Crowd: “In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.” Costume designer: Janet Patterson.
Freedom: “Two men separated by 100 years are united in their search for freedom. In 1856, a slave, Samuel Woodward and his family, escape from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia … 100 years earlier in 1748, John Newton, the Captain of a slave trader, sails from Africa with a cargo of slaves, bound for America…” Costume designer: Ciera Wells.
The Hateful Eight: “In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.” Costume designer: Courtney Hoffman.
In the Heart of the Sea: “A recounting of a New England whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820, an experience that later inspired the great novel, Moby Dick.” Costume designer: Julian Day.
Jimmy’s Hall: “During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after 10 years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens, and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.” Costume designer: Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh.
Legend: “The film tells the story of the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious criminals in British history, and their organised crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960s.” Costume designer: Caroline Harris.
Lost Birds: “It is 1915 in an Armenian village in Anatolia. Bedo and Maryam return from their secret dovecote only to find an empty house and a ghost village. The children embark on a journey to search for their mother, along with their bird ‘Bacik.'” Costume designer: Ela Alyamac.
Love & Mercy: “In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy.” Costume designer: Danny Glicker.
Macbeth: “Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.” Costume designer: Jacqueline Durran.
Mr. Holmes: “An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes deals with early dementia as he tries to remember both his final case and a mysterious woman whose memory haunts him. He also befriends a fan, the young son of his housekeeper, who wants him to work again.” Costume designer: Keith Madden.
Muhammad: The Messenger of God: “The events, trials, and tribulations of the city of Makkah in 7th century AD.” Costume designer: Michael O’Connor.
Queen and Country: “In this sequel to Hope and Glory (1987), Bill Rohan has grown up and is drafted into the army, where he and his eccentric best mate, Percy, battle their snooty superiors on the base and look for love in town.” Costume designer: Maeve Paterson.
The Revenant: “A frontiersman on a fur-trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.” Costume designer: Jacqueline West.
Saint Laurent: “Yves Saint Laurent’s life from 1967 to 1976, during which time the famed fashion designer was at the peak of his career.” Costume designer: Anaïs Romand.
The Salvation: “In 1870s America, a peaceful American settler kills his family’s murderer, which unleashes the fury of a notorious gang leader. His cowardly fellow townspeople then betray him, forcing him to hunt down the outlaws alone.” Costume designer: Diana Cilliers.
Serena: “In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when he marries Serena.” Costume designer: Signe Sejlund.
Set Fire to the Stars: “An aspiring poet in 1950s New York has his ordered world shaken when he embarks on a week-long retreat to save his hell-raising hero, Dylan Thomas.” Costume designer: Francisco Rodriguez-Weil.
Son of Saul: “In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.” Costume designer: Edit Szücs.
Stonewall: “A young man’s political awakening and coming of age during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots.” Costume designer: Simonetta Mariano.
Suffragette: “The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.” Costume designer: Jane Petrie.
Testament of Youth: “A British woman recalls coming of age during World War I — a story of young love, the futility of war, and how to make sense of the darkest times.” Costume designer: Consolata Boyle.
Trumbo: “In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.” Costume designer: Daniel Orlandi.
Victor Frankenstein: “Told from Igor’s perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man — and the legend — we know today.” Costume designer: Jany Temime.
The Water Diviner: “An Australian man travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons.” Costume designer: Tess Schofield.
Woman in Gold: “Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.” Costume designer: Beatrix Pasztor.
Now, Vote for Your Top Five!
(We’re asking you to pick five, to try to let some of the lesser-known films get a chance).
As you decide on your votes, here’s our suggested scoring guide:
- Are the costumes accurate to, or appropriately evocative of, the period?
- How well do the costumes evoke characters and/or themes of the film?
- Are the costumes well-executed? (Materials, fit, etc. Don’t forget that budgetary limitations are real!)
Remember that you’re NOT voting on which movie you liked best overall, or had the best story, or the best acting, or the best script, etc. You’re looking at costume design specifically. The deadline to vote is February 26 at midnight.