While one hopes that those nominating for Costume Design will be keen to acknowledge the subtle ways that clothes complement character, like the vision obstruction caused by the bonnets in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff or the dirtiness of the period duds in Bertrand Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier, history has certainly shown that pomp and spectacle win the day. And if your pomp and spectacle are housed in a castle setting, all the better. So look for Anonymous, the year’s flashiest bit of dolled-up royalty, to handily nab a slot here, if not the win. (There’s plenty of precedent for this, as The Duchess, another frilly film with minimal Oscar traction, took the trophy three years back, and Shakespeare in Love, which also showcased Elizabeth I in all her lavishly collared regalia, nabbed it in 1999).
Going up against the queen—who’s dressed by Lisy Christl—will surely be Hugo’s Sandy Powell, the Shakespeare in Love victor and Oscar favorite who whipped up a beautiful array of threads that wholly merge with Martin Scorsese’s Franco-steampunk aesthetic. Another likely candidate is Anna B. Sheppard, a past nominee for The Pianist and Schindler’s List who brought a gruff, utilitarian nostalgia to the supersuit in Captain America: The First Avenger, and decked out Cappy’s co-stars in handsome vintage garb. The sheer iconography of Sheppard’s work could edge out the retro, character-defining looks in My Week with Marilyn, The Help, and The Iron Lady; ditto the many cloaks in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which haven’t been cited since the series’s first installment.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy could see Jacqueline Durran’s crowded wardrobe of ’70s suits squeeze its way into the race, but odds are the last two spots will go to Jane Eyre, which boasts Michael O’Connor’s muted answer to Anonymous’s period pageantry, and The Artist, whose Mark Bridges-designed cloche hats and three-piece suits will join the film’s laundry list of honored elements.