Best Costume Design Oscar: ‘La La Land’ win would be first for contemporary film in 22 years

As per the predictions of our Oscar expertsMary Zophres is the frontrunner to win Best Costume Design for her contemporary creations on display in “La La Land.” This one-time Oscar nominee (“True Grit”) is favored to prevail over, among others, three-time past champ Colleen Atwood (Chicago,”2002; “Memoirs of a Geisha,” 2005; “Alice in Wonderland,” 2010). The latter reaped her 11th Oscar bid for her work on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

If Zophres does take home her first Oscar, she will go against tradition in this category which has long favored period costumes like those created by Atwood. Below, a list of the most recent 20 Best Costume Design winners with the era and locale in which they were set.

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Oscar Best Costume Design 1996 - 2016

As you can see, five of the films were set in England, with four of those in London. Another two take place against the backdrop of the fashion capital of the world, Paris. And, as with “La La Land,” one of these winners, “The Artist,” also unspools in Los Angeles.

That 2011 Best Picture champ was set in the early days of Hollywood while “La La Land” takes place today. But Damien Chazelle‘s musical fable, with it’s stylistic costuming and colorful production, doesn’t really feel like a contemporary film.

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Two of the last 20 Best Costume Design winners were musicals: “Moulin Rouge!” (2001) and “Chicago” (2002). And both of those tuners number among the dozen that claimed both this award and Best Production Design over the past two decades.  “La La Land” is also ahead in the latter race and would be the first modern-day movie to win that award since “All that Jazz” (1979).

While that musical also won Best Costume Design, a more recent tune-filled contemporary film, “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1994), also won this award over four period pictures. As with “La La Land,” that frothy comedy was set in the world of show business, albeit drag queens Down Under.

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