Sunday, April 04, 2010

Oscar's Twin Costuming Champs and 2010 Predictions

Press play for a twin-riffic soundtrack to this post

The April Fool Oscar predictions are coming right along. I call them April Fool not because I'm joking but because who the hell knows. It's a foolish practice. Yet foolish can be fun. If you're curious about how well I do before any of the films are seen you can see the past year scores below the predictions. I do pretty well just by imagining what might come to pass. Everyone is good at predicting right before the Oscars (we've seen months of winnowing down and precursors to study) but it's a much tougher game before you even fully know the players.

Robert Redford with actors on the set of The Conspirator.
Costumes by Louise Frogley, still waiting for Oscar nomination #1

In Costume Design, I'm curious whether Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland, Rum Diary) and Sandy Powell (The Tempest, Shutter Island), Oscar's favorite working designers, can keep up their constant friendly battle for another year. They've both been nominated 8 times within the last 16 Oscar years. Which means that 50% of the time they're nominated. But check out this weird siamese twin Oscar statistic: Atwood and Powell have amassed a total of 5 wins between them, always in years when they were both nominated. And they've only competed directly 5 times. Which means that neither of them win unless the other one is nominated. That's so weird. And delightful. It's deweirdful.

Is that siamese twin soundtrack uptop done playing, now? If it is, I highly recommend another siamese twin themed musical... "Evelyn Evelyn" by Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls) and Jason Webley. I SO want it to be a stop motion movie or short, right now. It's so strange and winning and creepy and I love that Amanda is officially with Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust) because what an obviously sympatico match that is, you know?

But where were we? Yes, costume design.

Beyond the twin golden powerhouses (Atwood & Powell) whom the cinema would obviously be naked without, my main costume design preoccupation each year is this: which longtime fab designer will nab their first nomination? Consider the following fab five worth rooting for (should they prove worthy this year, I mean) who have remarkably never been Oscar nominated...
  • Kym Barrett (The Green Hornet)
    She famously put angel wings on Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet and was a crucial player in the influential iconography of The Matrix. She even does animated costumes. Still no nomination. What will it take?
  • Louise Frogley (The Conspirator)
    This British designer has an intimate knowledge of George Clooney's measurements and you don't. Her filmography includes 5 Clooney movies (including black and white beauties Good Night, and Good Luck. and The Good German and those aren't easy to costume) And who doesn't love the costuming choices in Bull Durham? Someone had to choose that striped underwear for Tim Robbins "Nuke LaLoosh".
  • Michael Kaplan (Burlesque)
    He recently gave the Federation uniforms a reboot for Star Trek. And he often does brilliant, clever and stylish work on contemporary films like Fight Club, Mr & Mrs Smith or Big Business to name a few. But yeah, Oscar doesn't like contemporary work. But here's the real failure of Oscar discernment. He costumed freaking Blade Runner (1982) and didn't win. Adding insult to injury, he wasn't even nominated!!! I hope this costuming assignment (Christina Aguilera and Cher!) really inspires him this time around.
  • Mary Zophres (True Grit, Iron Man 2)
    A lot of the technical crew from the Coen Bro's enviable filmography have been recognized for their efforts. Not so with Zophres who put that bowling ball bra on Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski among other visual triumphs from their ouevre. She's costumed 10 of their 15 features including costume heavy assignments like The Man Who Wasn't There and O Brother Where Art Thou?
  • Penny Rose (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time)
    She's done British period pieces (Carrington, Another Country), big budget musicals (Evita) and one behemoth franchise in which she definitely aided in shaping one of the screen's most indelible and beloved characters (Pirates of the Caribbean). So there's versatility, bait and plentiful inspiration in her filmography. What gives with the Oscar shunning?
Which costume heavy movies are you looking forward to this year. Do you pay attention to the invisible creative powers behind the movies you love?

the costume design page


Robert Hamer said...

Holy crap, talk about not spreading the wealth. Time to make some amends, costume division, and PRONTO!

Bernardo S said...

Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" for Original Screenplay?

Andrew R. said...

Here are my April Fool's Predictions for Supporting Actress.

Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland)
Uma Thurman (Percy Jackson)
Julianne Moore (Chloe, not Kids are All Right)
Anna Kendrick (Eclipse)

Too lazy to pick a 5th nominee.

And it feels weird to say this...but I actually kinda hope Helena Bonham Carter gets nominated, though it's very unlikely. You know she was funny.

Jake D said...

Michael Kaplan not having a nomination (especially when Fight Club is on his resume) is appalling.

Andrew K. said...

If Oscar knows what's good for them they'll nominate Agora for outstanding costumes...but of course they don't know what's good for them. Sigh.

R.L. said...

That Powell/Atwood comparison was really interesting. I liked a lot what Powell said this year's speech about the Academy needing to appreciate costume designers doing contemporary costuming. It's ridiculous really how they're so fixated with one thing usually ("royalty porn") with little else going on. And I take nothing away from Sandy Powell. She would have been my choice from the five nominees too. But what about a nod for "Precious" there, or "500 Days of Summer"? Or even "The Hurt Locker"? Think outside the box for a change, Academy!

OtherRobert said...

I'm thinking Burlesque has to be a contender for costumes.

I want The Tempest to be incredible, but A) I don't think it's one of Shakespeare's better works; B) Mirren and all, I'm not buying the gender switch for Prospero since Miranda not having a female influence is a huge part of the story; C) Julie Taymor directing, really? Are there going to be puppets and a whole bunch of action I can't see on the screen because I'm sitting in the cheap seats? Or horribly distracting make-up and really bad male performances?

On the other hand, I'm hoping Taymor managed to get all her suck out on the soon-to-be disastrous Spiderman musical and puts pure gold on the screen for The Tempest, hopefully ushering in a string of not-high-tragedy Shakespeare adaptations (is it that hard to try A Winter's Tale or Cymbeline?).

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Yeah Andrew I agree: Ágora has to AT LEAST be nominated for costumes. And for Art Direction. Its production design is so amazing.

The whole film... It's so magnificently breathtaking. The story... it will be very divisive. Some will love, some will hate.

Peggy Sue said...

Oh, Penny Rose was so snubbed for "Evita"! Maybe this year, although I would be quite OK with JG being shirtless the whole movie.

Wish that Theadora Van Runkle would be still creating. Such a talent!

Unknown said...

Penny Rose not being nominated for Evita has to be ranked as one the most outrageous snub in the Costume Design category.
But no wrong they did or can do in the future will surpass the snub of Cabaret in 1972. That one I'll simply never understand.
And I 100% sure that Sandy Powell will be nominated next year for The Tempest. The Costume branch LOVES Julie Taymor. Every single one of her films got a costume design nomination. Doesn't matter who is the designer or precursors: Julie Taymor movie = costume design nomination.

Glenn said...

An Evita snub is bizarre, totally. And I was surprised she gained no traction for the last Pirates film since it had all that Chinese influence in it.

I actually do think Powell and Atwood will be nominated. The Tempest and Alice in Wonderland (in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sorta way). Alongside them I'm thinking The Conformist, The King's Speech and The Way Back (purely because I think it's the Best Picture frontrunner - Peter Weir's "time").

Last year I scored 4.5/5 a whole year in advance for this category only incorrectly predicting which Sandy Powell movie would get nominated (I said The Tempest rather than Young Victoria).

Chris Na Taraja said...

Just as long as they don't give it to Sandy Powell again. We wouldn't want her to appear to bored at her next acceptance speech.

The hollywood spin on it now is that she was embarrassed that she was winning again, and has now dedicated her award to new up and coming designers on independent films doing more modern costumes.

Frechen said...

Chris: Is it naive of me to have taken Powell's speech at face value? I got the impression that she WAS a bit embarrassed for the Academy to have awarded another (not terribly loved) period piece with the costume award. I'm really happy she gave a shout-out to outstanding--but consistently overlooked--contemporary costume design (...unless of course that contemporary film is about modern royalty or the fashion industry itself).

I also appreciate that Powell has shown that she can do more than 'royalty porn' by working with so many visionary directors in a wide variety of genres. Her egregious snub for "Far From Heaven" would be absolutely incomprehensible--if not for the fact that she was nominated that year for her flashier work in "Gangs of New York."

Janice said...

Maybe it's time for Powell and Atwood to gracefully retire themselves from nomination consideration and leave room for other worthy contenders? really.

That Michael Kaplan has never been nommed - that any of those five you mentioned have not - literally blows my mind.

Terrence said...

No, never take yourself out of competition. If Atwood and Powell go on to win 10 Oscars a piece in their respective careers, so be it. Too much would be lost by their exclusions, and just b/c that would open up slots to new and possibly snubbed people, it doesn't mean that the Academy won't latch onto a new favorite to start awarding year after year. You really can't please everyone.

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