The award for Best Costume Design at the Oscars could be retitled Most Costume Design as the winner is usually the film with the biggest, most opulent period gowns.
If that's the case this year, the award should be a slam-dunk for "Mirror Mirror," Tarsem Singh's reinterpretation of the "Snow White" fairy tale in which Julia Roberts as the evil queen is draped in enough fabric to dress the entire ensembles of most Elizabethan dramas. The costumes for the rest of the cast, from Snow White (Lily Collins) down to the extras in party scenes, are no less elaborate.
"Mirror Mirror" was costumed by Eiko Ishioka, who won an Oscar on her only previous nomination ("Dracula," 1992). She died of cancer in January 2012 and has already received one other posthumous bid for her work: a Tony nod for designing the costumes for "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."
A versatile artist, she also won a special award at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival as production designer of "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters," a Best Album Package Grammy for her artwork for Miles Davis's "Tutu" in 1986, and additional Tony nominations for costume and scenic design of "M. Butterfly" in 1988. In recent years, she costumed all of Singh's films, including the equally eye-popping "The Cell" and "The Fall."
She wouldn't be the first behind-the-scenes artist to be awarded posthumously. Most recently, famed cinematographer Conrad Hall won an Oscar for "Road to Perdition" two months after his death in 2003.
But Ishioka ranks third according to our predictions, getting 11/2 odds. Perhaps she would be the frontrunner in another year, but when there is a lavishly costumed film also contending for Best Picture, it often gets the advantage. This year there are two such films in the running: "Les Miserables" and "Lincoln," both of which dress large ensemble casts in 19th century finery.
"Les Miserables" ranks second with 10/3 odds; designed by first-time nominee Paco Delgado, it's set a few decades after the French Revolution, which was the subject of another recent Costume Design winner, "Marie Antoinette."
"Lincoln," designed by fellow first-time nominee Joanna Johnston, is set in Civil War-era Washington and is tied with "Mirror Mirror" with 11/2 odds.
But "Mirror Mirror's" greatest challenge will be overcoming "Anna Karenina," the current frontrunner with 13/8 odds. Based on the Leo Tolstoy novel, the film, like "Les Miserables" and "Lincoln," also features 19th century designs; it recently won Critics' Choice and BAFTA Awards for its costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, who has two previous Oscar nominations without a win.
In last place with 9/1 odds is "Snow White and the Huntsman," which also reimagines the Snow White fairy tale and may split the vote. "Huntsman" is designed by Colleen Atwood, the most decorated designer nominated this year, with three wins out of nine previous nominations.
One of Atwood's wins was for another recent fantasy film, "Alice in Wonderland," which managed to win despite also facing two Best Picture nominees ("The King's Speech" and "True Grit"), which means there may be hope yet for "Mirror Mirror," and its "Snow White" rival for that matter, to pull off an upset.
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