Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

Best Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland, Colleen Atwood (WINNER)
I Am Love, Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech, Jenny Beaven
The Tempest, Sandy Powell
True Grit, Mary Zophres

As with Art Direction, this category is dominated by fantasy films (Alice in Wonderland, The Tempest)) and period pieces (The King's Speech, True Grit). The one contemporary film, the romantic drama I Am Love, displays beautiful people wearing posh frocks — and, in Tilda Swinton's case, slipping out of them as passions seize her. Powell, who won last year for Young Victoria, contributed an island's worth of airy, aerie and Ariel garb to the Julie Taymor Tempest, but she's as unlikely to win an Oscar as Taymor's Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is to sweep the Tony Awards. As for Zophres' costumes in True Grit, buckskin is not a turn-on in this category — since the Best Costume Design award was inaugurated in 1949, no western has won one.

Again, we're down to Alice in Wonderland and The King's Speech. This is Atwood's ninth nomination, her third for a Tim Burton film (after Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd), but her only Oscar wins were for two movies directed by Rob Marshall: Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha. On the dazzle scale, her work far outshines the posh haberdashery sported in The King's Speech. Beaven has also been nominated nine times; she won in 1987 for A Room with a View, another drama, co-starring Helena Bonham Carter, about posh English folks in the first half of the last century. She could well take the Oscar on Sunday, but I'll stick my neck out and predict an Oscar for Alice — at the risk of hearing Bonham Carter's Red Queen shout, "Off with his head!"