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Oscars 2020: Best Costume Design Predictions

As always, period rules the day in costume design, from Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" to Todd Phillips' "Joker."

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”



Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the early Oscar frontrunner for Best Costume Design, with Arianne Phillips creating contrasting iconic looks (circa 1969) for Leonardo DiCaprio’s has-been actor, Brad Pitt’s rugged stunt man, and Margot Robbie’s angelic Sharon Tate.  It’s turtlenecks and leather for DiCaprio, Hawaiian shirt and denim for Pitt, and yellow hot pants and go-go boots for Robbie, among other vintage looks.

Meanwhile, three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell (sharing duties with costume designer Christopher Peterson) is back for Martin Scorsese’s true life gangster epic, “The Irishman,” creating different period threads for Robert De Niro’s mob hitman, Frank Sheeran, Al Pacino’s labor leader, Jimmy Hoffa, and Joe Pesci’s crime boss, Russell Bufalino, conveying conspicuous or inconspicuous status and power.

For Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges re-imagines the legendary Batman nemesis (Joaquin Phoenix) as a failed stand-up comic trapped between the ’70s and ’80s. His everyday clothes are child-like and old, his clown suit has a Chaplinesque vibe, and his Joker suit is very ’70s with a distinct rust red look.

“Black Panther” Oscar winner Ruth Carter creates the flamboyant urban costumes for “Dolemite Is My Name,” the comedy biopic starring Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, the comedian-turned blaxploitation star, who required more than three dozen looks for his multi-faceted persona, including a signature power blue suit.

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Oscar winner Alexandra Byrne (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”) returns with “The Aeronauts,” about real life 1862 daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) and pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne), who team up to fly higher than anyone in history. Byrne conjures fashion contrasts between Wren’s smart mackintosh and pants and Glaisher’s handsome suit.


“The Irishman”


Louisa May Alcott’s popular coming of age drama, “Little Women,” gets a makeover from director Greta Gerwig, with Oscar winner Jacqueline Durran handling the post Civil War costumes with some suggestive gender reversal and inspiration from Winslow Homer’s “High Tide” painting. The New England March sisters are played by Saoirse Ronan (Jo), Emma Watson (Meg), Florence Pugh (Amy), and Eliza Scanlen (Beth).

In Kasi Lemmon’s “Harriet” biopic about the Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo), costume designer Paul Tazewell progressively breaks down and tears away her clothes as she makes her journey from slave to slave fighter. At the same time, he utilizes old Daguerreotypes as inspiration for some of the other wardrobes.

For the big-screen adaptation of the beloved “Downton Abbey,” costume designer Anna Robbins not only got to play around with 1927 fashion but also expand into royal attire for the hosting of King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) and their entourage.

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman from Paramount Pictures.


David Appleby/Paramount Pictures

“Rocketman,” starring Taron Egerton as ’70s glam rock star, Elton John, boasted an array of flamboyant clothes by costume designer Julian Day (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). But here Day was given the freedom to redesign John’s wardrobe in addition to copying it. The most outlandish invention was the wings and horns outfit that John wears during his group therapy sessions.

For Edward Norton’s hardboiled ’50s throwback, “Motherless Brooklyn,” costume designer Amy Roth reflects the echelons of New York society, from workaday detective clothes and fedoras to expensive powerbroker suits.

And for the fact-based TIFF breakout “Hustlers,” starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez as exotic dancers who pull off their own Wall Street scam in 2007, costume designer Mitchell Travers channeled pop fashion. Not surprisingly, he looked to Lopez and other celebrities of the period for creative inspiration in dressing his diverse cast of characters.

Contenders are listed in alphabetical order and are updated. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.

“Dolemite Is My Name”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Downton Abbey”
“Ford v. Ferrari”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Little Women”
“The Lighthouse”
“Motherless Brooklyn”
“The Aeronauts”
“The Irishman”

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