“It’s going to be off the wall, and unusual, and not a conventional British costume drama,” says costume designer Sandy Powell about her work on “The Favourite.” And she’s not kidding. Directed by the iconoclastic Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth,” “The Lobster”), the film is a dark, quirky, absurd, sometimes anachronistic take on early 18th century British politics. And the costumes play a big part in that. Watch an exclusive video featurette from Fox Searchlight above.
Though the costumes in the film may appear at first glance to be the kind of typical corsets and bodices we’re used to seeing in royal period pieces, they’re actually edgier than that. Powell explains, “What Yorgos wanted to do was keep the silhouette completely accurate historically but then play around with the texture and the color.” So she used decidedly non-period materials like leather and denim and limited the color palette. As co-star Rachel Weisz observes, “All the female characters are wearing black and white, so we look like a chess board.”
That freedom to work both within and without period constraints was “exciting” for Powell “because it means that you can invent the entire world and push it visually.” That new invented world of Queen Anne and her court has already been widely recognized this awards season with Best Costume Design nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards, BAFTA Awards and most recently the Costume Designers Guild. And Powell has already won for this film at the British Independent Film Awards.
Now Powell is aiming for not one, but two Oscar nominations since she designed both “The Favourite” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” She’ll be nominated for both according to the combined predictions of thousands of Gold Derby users, and she’s the current front-runner to win for “The Favourite.” If we’re right, it would be her fourth Oscar, following victories for “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “The Aviator” (2004) and “The Young Victoria” (2009).
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.