It’s still no Drag Race, but the contest for costume design (i.e. the Oscar category most likely to send me headed to Wikipedia to even remember what won last year) just got a little bit more interesting over the weekend. And if the Costume Designers Guild’s award for Patricia Norris’s desiccated plantation line from the House of Mason-Dixon is to be taken seriously, then Amy Adams’s milky, sleek sternum is simply not as eye-catching an accessory as the funk of 40,000 lashes. (And I’m not talking the Maybelline kind here.) That Norris this weekend pranced past Michael Wilkinson’s chesty silhouettes in American Hustle wasn’t a major surprise, but that those drab rags left Catherine Martin’s flip-flap frippery from The Great Gatsby face down in the pool does arch one’s eyebrows. Or maybe that’s not such a surprise. The Costume Designers Guild have never much warmed up to Martin’s work; her Oscar-winning feathers and ruffles from Moulin Rouge weren’t even invited to the guild’s dance back in 2001. Perhaps they, like many of us hardened vets who experienced that Oscar season in real time online, were simply weary of the squealing zealousness of those “kicking up their heels” (and writing those same noxious words ad nauseam) over Baz Luhrman’s over-performance that year.
Or maybe the absinthe gave them the velour sweats. Either way, their track record when Martin’s in the mix can’t be taken for gospel. It’s still likely that the two Oscar nominees who didn’t earn guild props this year—The Grandmaster’s William Chang Suk Ping and The Invisible Woman’s Michael O’Connor—would probably get double-eliminated by RuPaul, despite the latter’s opportunity to lip sync for his life in a corset and petticoat (never NAGL in this category). But if there are any tealeaves to be read for filth from the guild’s signals, it’s that what’s considered “period” is drifting faster than the polar icebergs calving out into Disko Bay. Milk was the warning shot that indicated the voting body was now officially getting young enough to consider the 1970s officially ancient, but American Hustle wasn’t even the newest set of duds competing in the guild’s period category this year. Rayon’s Courtney Love-anticipating shredded nylons were. For that reason alone, American Hustle remains a fiercer contender than, as one Oscar blogger put it, those who still remember wearing Karen Lynn Gorney knock-offs may be willing to admit. But it also puts the EDM-remixed, jazz-n’-titties antiquities of The Great Gatsby that much further out in front. Chanté, Jay stays.
Will Win: The Great Gatsby
Could Win: American Hustle
Should Win: American Hustle