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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions Costume Design

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Costume Design
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Costume Design

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).

Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions Costume Design

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Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions: Costume Design
Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions: Costume Design

Lessons learned from the winners in this category in the last decade: gothic is a no-no (just ask Colleen Atwood, who’s only won for Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha); the frilliest attires almost always rule, regardless of whether the film that contains them is an abomination (Elizabeth: The Golden Age); and in the rare cases where the Pre-Frilly and Post-Frilly eras reign supreme, the films must be Best Picture honorees (Gladiator, The Aviator) and boast costumes that are at least as opulent as the Taj Mahal and Sharon Stone’s affections for Dev Patel. Weird that Slumdog Millionaire didn’t manage a nomination here, but that only makes this one of the easiest calls of the evening. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know Oscar or their Prada from their Pucci.

Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions Art Direction

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Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions: Art Direction
Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions: Art Direction

Let’s not make this category any more difficult than it has to be. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has this one in the bag, not because it’s the only Best Picture contender in the running, and not because it even has the best art direction on display. Oscar favors periods in both this and costume design, and while The Duchess and Changeling both contain the opulent flourishes and seamlessly accurate locations, respectively, from other eras that would normally take the prize here, the former missed out on a nomination by the Art Directors Guild, while the craftsmanship of the latter may simply be too subtle and lived-in to register with academy members. (That will almost certainly be the case with Revolutionary Road’s oppressively mundane suburban interiors; they serve their purpose and drive Kate Winslet justifiably bonkers, but Oscar voters often opt for sets that scream “Wish you were here!”) Lord knows why the academy decided to nominate the Batman franchise’s sets for the first time since the Tim Burton era; no other film in the series has more heavily leaned on existing (i.e. Chicagoan) urban decay. (It’s a wonder Slumdog Millionaire didn’t sneak in here in its stead.) So Benjamin Button has this one almost by default, but it would’ve probably coasted to a win in any number of years. There’s only one thing that can trump a period piece, and that’s a multi-period piece.

Toronto International Film Festival 2008: Blindness, The Duchess, & A Christmas Tale

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Toronto International Film Festival 2008: <em>Blindness</em>, <em>The Duchess</em>, & <em>A Christmas Tale</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2008: <em>Blindness</em>, <em>The Duchess</em>, & <em>A Christmas Tale</em>

Blindness: A mess. Fernando Meirelles’s adaptation of the acclaimed José Saramago’s novel feels less like a metaphor for urban isolation than just a zombie movie in which the zombies decided not to show up. Apocalyptic breakdown is triggered by an inexplicable outbreak of blindness, leaving the nameless characters—which include Mark Ruffalo’s infected doctor, Alice Braga’s shades-wearing Mary Magdalene, Danny Glover’s sage old timer, and Julianne Moore’s diligent super-wife, the only one with her sight left intact—to face the extremities of human venality and madness. Somebody describes the condition as “swimming in milk,” and slick-nick Meirelles fucking runs with it: In addition to the promiscuous use of overexposed whites, there are so many deliberately cramped setups and off-center compositions that the whole thing starts to look like the movie Woody Allen’s sightless auteur came up with in Hollywood Ending. Moore by now deserves a bronze statue in her honor, but Saramago’s material here becomes not a stand-in for the human condition, but rather a misbegotten spectacle that, stylistically and thematically, keeps fumbling in the dark and walking nose-first into wall after wall.