Oscars: Why ‘Jackie’s’ costume designer should root against ‘La La Land’s’ production designer

Best Costume Design and Best Production Design are two categories at the Oscars where scoring a nomination for both is critical to a film’s chances of winning either. Of the 85 times these awards have been handed out together 70 of the Best Costume Design winners were either nominated for or won Best Production Design. Only 15 films since 1948 have won Costume Design without a Production Design nomination. Could “Jackie” be only the 16th film to do so?

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The academy first started awarding Best Art Direction (as Best Production Design was formerly known) in 1927 but did not recognize Costume Design until 1948, and since then they have been awarded a total of 85 times. From 1948-1956 and 1959-1966 the academy gave an award for both black-and-white and color films for each category. Of the 85 times these two awards have been handed out they’ve been awarded to the same film 43 times, from the beginning in 1948 when “Hamlet” won both (Black & White) to last year when “Mad Max: Fury Road” swept both.

Only two films scored both a Costume and Production Design nomination this year: “La La Land” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” But both films have major hurdles to clear in order to win an Oscar for Costume Design. “La La Land” is set in modern day Los Angeles, and typically voters prefer period films. If it should win it would be the first contemporary film to do so since “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1994), and that was 22 years ago. For “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a “Harry Potter” prequel, it’s even worse as none of the original eight films in the “Potter” franchise ever won an Oscar regardless of category.

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According to Gold Derby’s exclusive odds, “La La Land” is the current front-runner to win Costume Design with odds of 4/5. Right on its heels in second is “Jackie,” set in the 1960s, with odds of 9/5. “Fantastic Beasts” is currently in third with odds of 25/1. Rounding out the category but not to be written-off are “Florence Foster Jenkins” in fourth place with odds of 28/1 and “Allied” with odds of 80/1.

Let’s dial this down to each film’s statistical chance based on the categories’ history of being awarded together. Before either award is handed out there’s a 17.65% chance it will go to “Jackie,” “Florence Foster Jenkins” or “Allied” since they’re missing a Production Design nomination, or about 5.88% each if we divide that evenly between them. Meanwhile there’s an 82.35% chance it will be either “La La Land” or “Fantastic Beasts” (41.18% each) because they’re nominated for both.

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If “La La Land” wins Production Design as expected its odds of winning Costume Design increase to 50.59%. Meanwhile, the chances for “Fantastic Beasts” drop to 31.76% as only 27 films have won Costume Design after losing Production Design.

But what happens if both films should lose Production Design? If that should happen then their odds drop from the original 41.18% to 32.14% because out of the 42 instances when the two categories didn’t match, only 27 Production Design nominees ended up winning Costume Design anyway. The other three films’ odds thus improve to 11.90%.

But if we narrow this down to the last 15 years, 13 films or 86.67% of the winners in Costume Design were also at least nominated for if not won Production Design. That would give both “La La Land” and “Fantastic Beasts” a slightly better 43.33% chance of winning, while the remaining films drop to of 4.44%. If either “La La Land” or “Fantastic Beasts” should win Production Design their odds of winning Costume Design shoot up to 60.00% as nine films out of 15 have won both, while the also-ran’s odds drop to 26.67%. If both should lose Production Design their odds drop to 33.33% each because out of those six years when the two awards didn’t match, Costume Design was still won by a Production Design nominee four times. Which is where things look up for “Jackie,” “Florence Foster Jenkins,” and “Allied” as their odds of winning then rise to 11.11%.

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