No list of nominations, unless you are creating it for yourself, is ever going to be completely satisfying. And so, the Oscar list for Costume Design couldn’t find room for the high-waisted futuristic fashion of Her, the preppy gothic designs of Stoker, or the meticulously calculated wardrobe of the girls in The Bling Ring, all movies that would make my list for best costumes of 2013. But the Academy still managed to come up with a rather satisfying list of finalists while staying in its comfort zone. That sadly means that all the nominees are period pieces. Contemporary costuming, which can be as tricky (if not outright more difficult) than doing historical or fantasy work, tends to be overlooked. The Academy did feel a little adventurous, though, as it nominated William Chang for the designs of The Grandmaster. If I’m being honest, my satisfaction with this category might come entirely from that nomination. You just search for images of that movie, and tell me if Ziyi Zhang’s fur coat and Tony Leung’s white hat aren’t some of the most beautiful and iconic designs of the year.
So, Chang would get my vote, but that doesn’t mean the other nominees aren’t worth it. I actually like the work done in all of them. I haven’t seen The Invisible Woman, but I can talk about the other nominees. I appreciate how the costumes in American Hustle are so quintessentially seventies, as well as the realistic simplicity of the rags of 12 Years a Slave. If we’re talking about who is going to win, then you must know that Catherine Martin pretty much has this one in the bag for her work in The Great Gatsby. Not only is the movie with the most eye-popping costumes (most often equals best when it comes to Oscar voting), it also inspired a lot of fashion trends and magazine covers. I don’t know much about the fashion world, but I feel like it was kind of the cool trend of the year (or at least tried to be). It’s pretty good work too. I had my problems with Gatsby as a movie, but there is no denying Baz Luhrmann’s movies look, if not always great, at least bold.
Will Win: Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby)
My Vote: William Chang (The Grandmaster)