Is ‘The Great Gatsby’ vulnerable in Oscars races for Production and Costume Design?

The Great Gatsby” is nominated for just two Academy Awards — Best Costume Design and Best Production Design — but it is a lock for both of them according to our Experts, Editors and Users. However, if the film is so heavily favored to win these two, one wonders why it was not nominated in more categories.  

Prior to nominations, we had it ranked third for both Best Original Song and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Do those snubs mean we are overestimating the academy’s support for the film which divided critics last spring, scoring only 55 at MetaCritic. (Be sure to make your predictions in this race at the bottom of this post using our easy drag-and-drop menu.)

Yes, “The Great Gatsby” did just win the Period Film prize from the Art Directors Guild. And it has leading odds of 8 to 15 to win Best Production Design at the Oscars. However, ADG fantasy winner “Gravity” is expected to sweep most of the other craft categories. Couldn’t this rising tide lift it to victory here as well despite odds of just 4/1? 

Last year, “Lincoln” won Best Production Design after losing at the Art Directors Guild, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice Awards. It had odds of only 11 to 2 while the favorite — the critically-divisive “Anna Karenina” — had the best odds at 13/5. Indeed, despite leading with 12 Oscar nominations, “Lincoln” won just one other award — Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis). One academy member explained his voting rationale in the production design race to The Hollywood Reporter, “So that leaves ‘Anna Karenina,’ which is a movie I loathed, and ‘Lincoln.’  I’m not gonna vote for ‘Lincoln’ for Best Picture, but I […] want to help the film, so when I can throw it a vote, like here, I will.” Sound familiar? 

Like “Lincoln,” “12 Years a Slave” is set against an American slavery backdrop and boasts an ensemble cast that includes half of Hollywood. It has odds of 16/1 for Best Production Design but could pull off an upset as could ADG contemporary winner “Her.” That film over-performed in nominations, picking up two more than wwe expected, not two fewer like “The Great Gatsby.”  There are always surprises on Oscar night. Could Production Design be one of them as it was last year? 

Or will “American Hustle” — which has a leading 10 nominations but little chance of winning most of toese races — pull off a similar upset in Costume Design? It currently has odds of 11/2 versus 3/10 for “The Great Gatsby.” 

However, as Rob Licuria pointed out the other day, the Costume Design champ need not be a Best Picture nominee. Indeed, five of the last seven winners of this category were snubbed in the top race: “Marie Antoinette” (2006), “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007), The Duchess” (2008), “The Young Victoria” (2009), “and “Anna Karenina” (2012). 

Longshot contender “The Invisible Woman” (50/1) is the most like these winners with its Victorian setting and female protagonist. Indeed, it even shares the Oscar-winning designer from “The Duchess” in Michael O’Connor. While this well-reviewed film has no buzz, that may be because it has only played in about 150 theaters worldwide.

None of those five films that won this race recently lit up the box office either with domestic grosses ranging from $11 million to $16 million. And, as that aforementioned Oscar voter explained with regard to how he cast his vote for Costume Design last year: “This always goes to the nominee with the puffiest dresses. […] I just don’t want to support ‘Anna Karenina,’ even though it’s probably going to win because it’s exactly the kind of movie that does win this award; people who haven’t even seen the film are going to vote for it because it just has that smell.”  

4 thoughts on “Is ‘The Great Gatsby’ vulnerable in Oscars races for Production and Costume Design?

  1. Good article I think you are right. “The Great Gatsby” isn’t a good movie, so does that hurt it? For me “12 Years A Slave” is still the frontrunner for Best Picture and Production and Costume design are a couple categories where the Academy might throw that film a bone. I can’t see “12 Years” winning just Best Picture, Screenplay and Supporting Actress. I think it has a real shot at stealing at least one of these design awards from “Gatsby”. I don’t think “American Hustle” will be the one to steal costume design, I think a period piece is still the best bet. “12 Years” has everything from rags to riches.

  2. Correction. Michael O’Connor did not design the costumes for The Young Victoria. That film was designed by Sandy Powell.

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