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It turns out that, due to Netflix availability, the first category I’ve filled out on my Oscar dance card is Best Costume Design.

Snow White prepares to leave the castle in Mirror Mirror

Snow White prepares to leave the castle in Mirror Mirror

And the nominees are…
Anna Karenina
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Les Misérables
Snow White and the Huntsman

I swear, I should get some sort of award myself for sitting through Mirror Mirror. Yet, although excruciatingly bad in plot, dialogue, and acting, it certainly was pretty. The gorgeous costumes were designed by Eiko Ishioka, whose only previous nomination (and win) was for Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the early 90s. The fact that she died a year ago, and there is a dedication to her in the credits, may have an impact on this vote.

Snow White at the ball in Mirror Mirror

Snow White at the ball in Mirror Mirror

The Queen at the ball in Mirror Mirror

The Queen at the ball in Mirror Mirror

Snow White and the Huntsman was also nothing to write home about, but it was still miles ahead of Mirror Mirror in terms of narrative and general interest. And it did have magnificent visual effects, although I assume The Hobbit has a lock on that category.

Ravenna rules the roost in Snow White and the Huntsman

Ravenna rules the roost in Snow White and the Huntsman

However, I really did like the costume design, first, because there were gorgeous outfits, but, more importantly, because the clothes helped tell the story. This is unsurprising, given that they were designed by Colleen Atwood, a three-time Oscar winner (including just two years ago for Alice in Wonderland). This is her tenth nomination and well deserved.

The wedding in Snow White and the Huntsman

Ravenna walking down the aisle at her wedding

Snow White and the Huntsman escaping a troll

Snow White and Eric (aka The Huntsman) escaping a troll

Ravenna's version of chain mail

Ravenna’s version of chain mail

Anna Karenina was a bit of a disappointment in the costume department. Yes, there were gorgeous dresses, but they seemed sort of random, and even sometimes slapdash. I was expecting more, especially for the character of Anna. There was a great opportunity to tell a story through color and structure here and I didn’t really see it.

One of the few outfits I thought captured the character of Anna

One of the few outfits I thought captured the character of Anna in Anna Karenina

Yet this may be a likely winner since the film has a respectable four nominations and the designer, Jacqueline Durran, has previously been nominated twice (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) without winning. Plus, there were a lot of costumes in this production, probably more than any other film in this category.

This was my favorite scene in Anna Karenina; it was so utterly romantic. Kitty and Levin made me want to read the book.

I thought Kitty’s costumes were well done. This was my favorite scene in Anna Karenina; it was so utterly romantic. Kitty and Levin made me want to read the book.

Personally, I’d rather see this film win for any of its other nominations (Cinematography, Production Design, Original Score) before Costume Design. In particular, I found Dario Marianelli’s music extremely interesting; it evoked the classic themes of the grand movie epics of the 1960s such as Doctor Zhivago, with more than a touch of Love Story.

On a final note, Jude Law gives a fantastic performance as Karenin, it’s a shame he didn’t get a nomination.

Jude Law remarkably restrained performance and costume as Karenin in Anna Karenina

Jude Law’s remarkably restrained performance and costume as Karenin in Anna Karenina

I’ve written about Les Misérables elsewhere, so I won’t repeat myself here, except to say that the costumes were a good blend of pretty and appropriate. The designer, Paco Delgado, is a first-time nominee, but he could take the costume category just based on the spectacle of it all. Plus, there is the important fact that the movie had (I assume) a wider audience than the three films above.

Mis 1

Finally, unless Lincoln sweeps, and I don’t think it will, I can’t imagine it winning for best costumes. The costumes here are very pedestrian compared to the competition and the designer, Joanna Johnston, is a first-time nominee.

Lincoln

Quite frankly, while I liked Lincoln well enough, I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance is incredible, and I’m happy that the film wasn’t overly sappy and sentimental as biopics tend to be, but for me, Spielberg didn’t deliver. He was clearly going for tension with the emphasis on the vote on the 13th amendment, but, for drama even when you know how it all turns out, I’d look to Argo.