If you want to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design, it’s best to pick a project for which you can create frilly dresses from a bygone era. Since its introduction at the 1948 Academy Awards, this category has favored period pieces. Voters love to reward the creative forces behind such films, especially those that are about the aristocracy including recent winners “Marie Antoinette” (2006), “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007), “The Duchess” (2008), “The Young Victoria” (2009), and “Anna Karenina” (2012). (Scroll down for the most up-to-date predictions for this year’s Best Costume Design race.)
By the way, none of those films even competed for Best Picture. Indeed, only 20 of the most recent 68 Best Picture champs also won this award. Among these was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). Fantasy films such as this often boast Oscar-winning costumes, including last year’s winner, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and recent champs “Alice in Wonderland” (2010) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015).
Recreating the various looks of the early 20th century has also proven an effective way to win as evidenced by “The Aviator” (2004), “The Artist” (2011), and “The Great Gatsby” (2013). Voters are also delighted to travel to exotic locales as with “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005) and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014).
The one era that does not have costumes that usually appeal to academy members is the modern-day one. You have to go all the way back to “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1994) to find a film set in the present day that won for its costumes, and that one benefited from being about drag queens.
Please note: Only those films with confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while others are dropped due to delays or critical reaction.
UPDATED: November 6, 2017
Renée April, “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros./Columbia Pictures/Alcon Entertainment)
Suzy Benzinger, “Wonder Wheel” (Amazon Studios)
Michael T. Boyd, “Mudbound” (Netflix)
Consolata Boyle, “Victoria and Abdul” (Focus Features)
Mark Bridges, “Phantom Thread” (Annapurna Pictures/Focus Features)
Alexandra Byrne, “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox)
Ruth E. Carter, “Marshall” (Open Road Films)
Jacqueline Durran, “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney Studios)
Jacqueline Durran, “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features)
Lindy Hemming, “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.)
Jeffrey Kurland, “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)
Ellen Miojnick, “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)
Sandy Powell, “Wonderstruck” (Amazon Studios)
Ann Roth, “The Post” (20th Century Fox)
Mary Zophres, “Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Stacey Battat, “The Beguiled” (Focus Features)
Odile Dicks-Mireaux, “Goodbye Christopher Robin” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Jenny Eagan, “Suburbicon” (Paramount Pictures)
Suzie Harman, “The Death of Stalin” (IFC Films)
Francine Jamison-Tanchuck, “Detroit” (Annapurna Pictures)
Michael Kaplan, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney Studios)
Luis Sequeira, “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Charlotte Walter, “Breathe” (Bleecker Street)
Oliver Bériot, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” (Europa Corp)
Joy Cretton, Mirren Gordon-Crozier, “The Glass Castle” (Lionsgate)
Francine Jamison-Tanchuck, “Roman Israel, Esq.” (Columbia)
Sandy Powell, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” (A24)
Nancy Steiner, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (A24)
Trish Summerville, “The Dark Tower” (Sony Pictures)
UPDATED: November 6, 2017
Sandy Powell has won three Oscars (“Shakespeare in Love” in 1998, “The Aviator,” and “The Young Victoria”) and could add a fourth to her shelf for “Wonderstruck,” her latest collaboration with Todd Haynes. The film takes place in both the 1920s and 1970s, alternating between color and black-and-white cinematography. She could compete against herself (as she’s done in the past) for John Cameron Mitchell‘s sci-fi spoof “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.”
Consolata Boyle reaped both her Oscar bids for films by Stephen Frears (“The Queen” in 2006 and “Florence Foster Jenkins” in 2016) and they are working together again on “Victoria and Abdul,” which is set in 1887 and chronicles the relationship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench), who is celebrating her golden jubilee, and her new Indian servant Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal)
Jacqueline Durran won her Oscar for Joe Wright‘s “Anna Karenina,” having previously contended for his films “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) and “Atonement” (2007). They are reunited on “Darkest Hour,” which chronicles the first days of Winston Churchill as British prime minister during WWII. And she crafted the costumes in the live-action “Beauty and the Beast.”
After three losses, Alexandra Byrne prevailed for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” in 2008. She could be back in the race for the first time since then with “Murder on the Orient Express,” Kenneth Branagh‘s star-studded adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery. The 1974 version earned a nomination for costume designer Tony Walton (he lost to “The Great Gatsby”).
Mark Bridges won an Oscar for his costumes for Best Picture champ “The Artist” in 2011. He contended again in 2014 for “Inherent Vice” and reunites with that film’s director, Paul Thomas Anderson for “Phantom Thread,” in which Daniel Day-Lewis plays a fictionalized version of 1950s royal designer Hardy Amies.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be predicting all 24 of the competitive categories at the Oscars.
Best Picture | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay | Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Production Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling | Best Sound Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Visual Effects
Best Original Score | Best Original Song
Best Animated Feature | Best Documentary Feature | Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Short | Best Documentary Short | Best Live-Action Short