That Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread spent more time on Oscar prognosticators’ shortlists as Untitled PTA London Fashion Film than it did under its actual title indicates that it probably had this award sewn up before anyone even laid eyes on it. In fact, one of the only things that would’ve given us pause about predicting it is the fact that Oscar voters have laid eyes on the ornate, complex, multi-faceted film, and now have to wrestle with their own realization that it’s far from just another runway processional. The other issue is that the last two times films explicitly centered around the world of fashion have competed in the costume design category that should’ve been a cakewalk for them, both ended up losing to regal frocks and fancy frills.
In the case of The Devil Wears Prada’s defeat to Marie Antoinette, at least there was a case where the main character of the winning film arguably lived her life even more within the costumes she wore than the venerable Miranda Priestly. However, The Young Victoria’s Sandy Powell, who defeated Coco Before Chanel’s Catherine Leterrier, evidently felt on-the-spot enough about the Academy’s preferences to dedicate her prize “to the costume designers that don’t do movies about dead monarchs or glittery musicals. The designers that do the contemporary films and the low-budget ones that actually don’t get as recognized, and they should do and they work as hard.”
Maybe her peers are starting to listen. The Costume Designers Guild Awards, which were handed out late last night, opted to award Luis Sequeira’s utilitarian, government-issued cleaning ladies’ aprons and technicians’ lab coats from The Shape of Water in the period category. Nevertheless, that result feels like an anomaly. After all, the BAFTA Awards over the weekend handed their prize to the House of Woodcock, and since Consolata Boyle’s version of Queen Victoria’s walk-in closet faces stiff, satin-ruffled competition from the Disney princess of Jacqueline Durran’s Beauty and the Beast, here’s one prize at least that will ensure that Phantom Thread, Slant’s favorite film of 2017, won’t be wearing the emperor’s new clothes.
Will Win: Phantom Thread
Could Win: Beauty and the Beast
Should Win: Phantom Thread