Evaluating the Top Oscar Costume Contenders

Forbidden love, immigration, transgender awakening, the Hollywood Blacklist and post-apocalyptic survival are explored in the top five costume contenders.

1. “Carol”:¬†Three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell embraces a new aesthetic with Todd Haynes for this lesbian love story, adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Shot in 16mm by Ed Lachman, they¬†recreate the visual language of ’52 as embodied by a host of female photojournalists, which is fitting since Mara plays a budding photographer. This means secondary colors rather than primaries and “a soft, soiled, indeterminate feeling.” This carried over into the wardrobe for socialite Blanchett and working girl Mara, which still reflected the ’40s during this transition into the Eisenhower era. For Blanchett, Powell scoured “Vogue” and other magazines from December ’52 to get the exact look for the time period of the movie.

2. “Brooklyn”: By contrast, there’s a more glam aesthetic to the costume design of Odile Dicks-Mireaux in transforming Saoirse Ronan from shy Irish immigrant to confident American woman in ’51. Ronan works in a posh department store, becomes an accountant and falls in love with Brooklynite Emory Cohen. The contrast is striking in the wardrobes: postwar Ireland was all about limitations and practicality, with knits that aren’t flashy and flat shoes vs. young American women swooning over movie stars. Ronan’s look was patterned after Grace Kelly, and Dicks-Mireaux found the perfect yellow dress and burnt orange/apricot suit in Montreal.

3. “The Danish Girl”: The subtle craft of transforming early 20th century transgender pioneer Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) was a study in fashion contrast for costume designer Paco Delgado. It was all about the feminization of Elbe (born Einar Wegener), who became the first known recipient of sex reassignment surgery. Delgado took advantage of the difference in fashion between provincial Copenhagen and progressive Paris, which presented him with the idea that Elbe was trapped in a body like a cage. Heavily-structured Edwardian garments with high collars and tailored suits with restricted tones give way to soft and fluid fabrics and warmer colors, as Elbe becomes more comfortable in her own skin.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, Costume, Crafts, Movies, Oscar

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