2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Costume Design [Updated: March 4]

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, including last year’s winner “Little Women.” Voters love to reward the creative forces behind such films, especially those that are about the aristocracy including recent champs “Marie Antoinette” (2007), “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2008), “The Duchess” (2009), “The Young Victoria” (2010), and “Anna Karenina” (2013). (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2021 Oscars predictions for Best Costume Design.)

By the way, none of those films even competed for Best Picture. Indeed, only 20 of the most recent 71 Best Picture champs also won this award. Among these was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2004). Fantasy films such as this often boast Oscar-winning costumes, including 2019 winner “Black Panther,” and recent champs “Alice in Wonderland” (2011),  “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2016) and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2017).

Recreating the various looks of the early 20th century has also proven an effective way to win as evidenced by “The Aviator” (2005), “The Artist” (2012), and “The Great Gatsby” (2014). Voters are also delighted to travel to exotic locales as with “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2006) and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2015).

The one era that does not have costumes that usually appeal to academy members is the modern-day. You have to go all the way back to “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1995) to find a film set in the present day that won for its costumes, and that one benefited from being about drag queens.

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UPDATED: March 4, 2021

Leading Contenders

Mark Bridges, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)

Alexandra Byrne, “Emma” (Focus Features)

Bina Daigeler, “Mulan” (Walt Disney Pictures)

Charlese Antoinette Jones, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.)

Ann Roth, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

Trish Summerville, “Mank” (Netflix)

Francine Jamison-Tanchuck, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Strong Contenders

Erin Benach, “Birds of Prey” (Warner Bros.)

Donna Berwick, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)

Lou Eyrich, “The Prom” (Netflix)

Suzie Harman, Robert Worley, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures)

Paolo Nieddu, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Paramount Pictures)

Virginia Johnson, “Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix)

Susan Lyall, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

Michael O’Connor, “Ammonite” (Neon)

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Possible Contenders

Consolata Boyle, “Radioactive” (Amazon Studio

Jenny Eagan, “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix)

Joanna Johnston, “The Witches” (HBO Max

Jeffrey Kurland, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.)

Natalie O’Brien, “I’m Your Woman” (A24)

Sandy Powell, “The Glorias” (Roadside Attractions)

We will be updating our Oscar predictions for each competitive category often in the days to come so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back as the race heats up.

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