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Oscars 2022: Best Costume Design Predictions

The power of imagination soars with frontrunner "Dune," "Spencer," "The French Outpost," and the surprising "Cruella." Constantly updated.

Dune Warner Bros.


Warner Bros.

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In the race for costume design, it’s the sci-fi futurism of frontrunner “Dune” against a host of eclectic period pieces, including the upside-down fairy tale of Princess Di in “Spencer,” the spiritually-driven musical genius of Aretha Franklin in “Respect,” the subversive punk delights of “Cruella,” the journalistic nostalgia of “The French Outpost,” and the noir trappings of “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” (Warner Bros.) embraces the psychological and mystical elements of this epic adventure about the dangerous mix of politics and religion. Thus, the look was more “modern-medieval” than traditional futuristic, with costume designers Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan studying nomadic tribes of the desert, Greek mythology, and Goya paintings. However, the complex gray stillsuit of the Fremen from the desert planet, Arrakis, was the innovative centerpiece, allowing them to survive as a result of the sophisticated fluid recycling system. It had to look functional yet stylish, and was form-fitting and otherworldly. The gauze cloaks and capes acted as camouflage and the robes gave an aura of romance.

For director Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer” (Neon), which explores Diana’s (Kristen Stewart) implosion over a three-day Christmas holiday with the Royal family in 1991, two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (“Little Women,” Anna Karenina”) strove for an imaginative historical fiction, in which Diana struggles to reclaim her former identity as a Spencer. Durran and her team scanned through images of Diana from 1988-1992, cherry picking iconic outfits they liked, and then captured the spirit of the clothes. The costume team created a system of colors and looks, patterns for various moments in her life. They were assisted by the legendary Chanel, who designed outfits later in Diana’s life. They creating replicas of archived items selected, such as the red coat from Christmas and the blue coat in the morning.




To honor Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson) in director Liesl Tommy’s musical biopic “Respect” (United Artists Releasing), costume designer Clint Ramos took a deep dive into the Queen of Soul’s psychology. This enabled him to understand the complex emotional, spiritual, and political forces that drove her musical genius. As a result, Ramos created an aesthetic of heightened realism and glam naturalism with more than 80 costumes custom-made for Hudson. Her music reflected her personal struggles, her gospel roots, and the zeitgeist of the ’60s and ’70s. This was important in building a wardrobe for Hudson (who is six inches taller than Franklin). The iconic metallic gold dress that Franklin wore while performing in Amsterdam was altered to better suit Hudson. It became a beaded pale pink and champagne dress. The other legendary outfit that needed tweaking was the green paisley cape dress that Franklin wore during the recording of “Amazing Grace” in Watts in 1972. Both the color and pattern needed adjusting to compliment Hudson.

Costume designer Jenny Beavan, another two-time Oscar winner (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “A Room With a View”), delivered a recycled fabric motif for dressing Emma Stone’s subversive fashion designer in “Cruella” (Disney). Beavan tapped her own youthful memories of ’70s London fashion in finding an arc for Cruella, who morphs from a rebellious child to a fashion sensation. She used ’70s, military, and fantastical inspirations. But the standout is the red dress: a deconstruction of a prestigious vintage evening gown designed by Emma Thompson’s evil baroness. The ultimate goal was to make sure that you could believe that Cruella could eventually resemble Glenn Close in the ’90s remake.

"The French Dispatch"

“The French Dispatch”


Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight) doesn’t disappoint as a fashion tribute with its collection of “New Yorker”-inspired stories set in a fictional French city. Four-time Oscar winner Milena Canonero (“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Marie Antoinette,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Barry Lyndon”) designed an array of iconic-looking outfits for the ensemble cast (Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson). The standout is an eye-popping orange gown worn by Swinton. However, one of the challenges was mixing color and black-and-white, which meant they had to carefully consider colors and textures that would read well in monochrome, and how they fit with the hair and makeup.

With “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24), starring Denzel Washington and McDormand, Joel Coen embraced the inherent theatricality of Shakespeare’s play in Expressionistic black-and-white tones. Three-time Oscar nominee Mary Zophres (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “La La Land,” “True Grit”) complemented the look of the sets (stressing geometric patterns) in designing wardrobes full of earthy textiles and emphasizing strong lines, silhouettes, and profiles. The aesthetic was somewhat medieval but also timeless. Fortunately, adapting for black-and-white was made easy with the use of the noir setting in her iPhone.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Laurie Sparham/Disney

Other contenders include Guillermo del Toro’s reworking of “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight), the ’40s psychological thriller starring Bradley Cooper as a carny and high society grifter, costume designed by Oscar-winner Luis Sequeira (“The Shape of Water”); Steven Spielberg’s reworking of “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios), starring Rachel Zegler as Maria and Ansel Elgort as Tony, with Tony Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell (“Hamilton”) creating the lavish ’50s outfits; and “Cyrano,” Joe Wright’s musical adaptation, starring Peter Dinklage as the titular romantic ahead of his time, with costumes designed by Massimo Cantini Parrini (“Pinocchio”) with an Italian vibe.

Listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.

“The French Dispatch”

“Being the Ricardos”
“House of Gucci”
“Licorice Pizza”
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
“The Last Duel”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”

“Coming 2 America”
“Mothering Sunday”
“The Green Knight”
“The Harder They Fall”

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