Oscars 2015 Category Breakdown: Best Costume Design

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it works, what its history is, how it usually turns out, and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

How these work is — I go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have went, and how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win.

Today is Best Costume Design. Because everyone can understand dresses and hats and shit.

Year Best Costume Design Winners Other Nominees
1948 Black and White: Hamlet

Color: Joan of Arc

Black and White: B.F.’s Daughter

Color: The Emperor Waltz

1949 Black and White: The Heiress

Color: Adventures of Don Juan

Black and White: Prince of Foxes

Color: Mother is a Freshman

1950 Black and White: All About Eve

Color: Samson and Delilah

Black and White: Born Yesterday

The Magnificent Yankee

Color: The Black Rose

That Forsythe Woman

1951 Black and White: A Place in the Sun

Color: An American in Paris

Black and White: Kind Lady

The Model and the Marriage Broker

The Mudlark

A Streetcar Named Desire

Color: David and Bathsheba

The Great Caruso

Quo Vadis?

The Tales of Hoffmann

1952 Black and White: The Bad and the Beautiful

Color: Moulin Rouge

Black and White: Affair in Trinidad


My Cousin Rachel

Sudden Fear

Color: The Greatest Show on Earth

Hans Christian Andersen

The Merry Widow

1953 Black and White: Roman Holiday

Color: The Robe

Black and White: The Actress

Dream Wife

From Here to Eternity

The President’s Lady

Color: The Band Wagon

Call Me Madam

How to Marry a Millionaire

1954 Black and White: Sabrina

Color: Gate of Hell

Black and White: The Earrings Of Madame de…

Executive Suite

Indiscretion of an American Wife

It Should Happen To You

Color: Brigadoon


A Star is Born

There’s No Business Like Show Business

1955 Black and White: I’ll Cry Tomorrow

Color: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Black and White: The Pickwick Papers

Queen Bee

The Rose Tattoo


Color: Guys and Dolls

Interrupted Melody

To Catch a Thief

The Virgin Queen

1956 Black and White: The Solid Gold Cadillac

Color: The King and I

Black and White: Seven Samurai

The Power and the Prize

The Proud and the Profane

Teenage Rebel

Color: Around the World in 80 Days


The Ten Commandments

War and Peace

1957 Les Girls An Affair to Remember

Funny Face

Pal Joey

Raintree County

1958 Gigi Bell, Book and Candle

The Buccaneer

A Certain Smile

Some Came Running

1959 Black and White: Some Like It Hot

Color: Ben-Hur

Black and White: Career

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Gazebo

The Young Philadelphians

Color: The Best of Everything

The Big Fisherman

The Five Pennies

Porgy and Bess

1960 Black and White: The Facts of Life

Color: Spartacus

Black and White: Never on Sunday

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond

Seven Thieves

The Virgin Spring

Color: Can-Can

Midnight Lace


Sunrise at Campobello

1961 Black and White: La Dolce Vita

Color: West Side Story

Black and White: The Children’s Hour

Claudell Inglish

Judgment at Nuremberg


Color: Babes in Toyland

Back Street

Flower Drum Song

Pocketful of Miracles

1962 Black and White: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Color: The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm

Black and White: Days of Wine and Roses

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Miracle Worker


Color: Bon Voyage!


The Music Man

My Geisha

1963 Black and White: 8 ½

Color: Cleopatra

Black and White: Love with the Proper Stranger

The Stripper

Toys in the Attic

Wives and Lovers

Color: The Cardinal

How the West Was Won

The Leopard

A New Kind of Love

1964 Black and White: The Night of the Iguana

Color: My Fair Lady

Black and White: A House is Not a Home

Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Kisses for My President

The Visit

Color: Becket

Mary Poppins

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

What a Way to Go!

1965 Black and White: Darling

Color: Doctor Zhivago

Black and White: Morituri

A Rage to Live

Ship of Fools

The Slender Thread

Color: The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Inside Daisy Clover

The Sound of Music

1966 Black and White: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Color: A Man for All Seasons

Black and White: The Gospel According to St. Matthew


Mister Buddwing


Color: Gambit


Juliet of the Spirits

The Oscar

1967 Camelot Bonnie and Clyde

The Happiest Millionaire

The Taming of the Shrew

Thoroughly Modern Millie

1968 Romeo and Juliet The Lion in Winter


Planet of the Apes


1969 Anne of the Thousand Days Hello, Dolly!

Gaily, Gaily

Sweet Charity

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

1970 Cromwell Airport

Darling Lili

The Hawaiians


1971 Nicholas and Alexandra Bedknobs and Brooksticks

Death in Venice

Mary, Queen of Scots

What’s the Matter with Helen?

1972 Travels with My Aunt The Godfather

Lady Sings the Blues

The Poseidon Adventure

Young Winston

1973 The Sting Cries and Whispers


Tom Sawyer

The Way We Were

1974 The Great Gatsby Chinatown

Daisy Miller

The Godfather Part II

Murder on the Orient Express

1975 Barry Lyndon The Four Musketeers

Funny Lady

The Magic Flute

The Man Who Would Be King

1976 Fellini’s Casanova Bound for Glory

The Incredible Sarah

The Passover Plot

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

1977 Star Wars Airport ‘77


A Little Ngiht Music

The Other Side of the Mountain

1978 Death on the Nile Caravans

Days of Heaven

The Swarm

The Wiz

1979 All That Jazz Agatha

La cage aux folles

Butch and Sundance:: The Early Years

The Europeans

1980 Tess The Elephant Man

My Brilliant Career

Somewhere in Time

When Time Ran Out

1981 Chariots of Fire The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Pennies from Heaven



1982 Gandhi Sophie’s Choice

La Traviata


Victor Victoria

1983 Fanny and Alexander Cross Creek

Heart Like a Wheel

The Return of Martin Guerre


1984 Amadeus 2010

The Bostonians

A Passage to India

Places in the Heart

1985 Ran The Color Purple

The Journey of Natty Gann

Out of Africa

Prizzi’s Honor

1986 A Room with a View The Mission


Peggy Sue Got Married


1987 The Last Emperor The Dead

Empire of the Sun


The Untouchables

1988 Dangerous Liaisons Coming to America

A Handful of Dust


Tucker: The Man and His Dream

1989 Henry V The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Driving Miss Daisy

Harlem Nights


1990 Cyrano de Bergerac Avalon

Dances with Wolves

Dick Tracy


1991 Bugsy The Addams Family

Barton Fink


Madame Bovary

1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula Enchanted April

Howards End

Malcolm X


1993 The Age of Innocence Orlando

The Piano

The Remains of the Day

Schindler’s List

1994 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Bullets over Broadway

Little Women


Queen Margot

1995 Restoration Braveheart

Richard III

Sense and Sensibility

12 Monkeys

1996 The English Patient Angels and Insects



The Portrait of a Lady

1997 Titanic Amistad


Oscar and Lucinda

The Wings of the Dove

1998 Shakespeare in Love Beloved



Velvet Goldmine

1999 Topsy-Turvy Anna and the King

Sleepy Hollow

The Talented Mr. Ripley


2000 Gladiator 102 Dalmatians

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

How the Grinch Stole Christmas


2001 Moulin Rouge! The Affair of the Necklace

Gosford Park

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2002 Chicago Frida

Gangs of New York

The Hours

The Pianist

2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Girl with a Pearl Earring

The Last Samurai

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


2004 The Aviator Finding Neverland

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events



2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Mrs. Henderson Presents

Pride & Prejudice

Walk the Line

2006 Marie Antoinette Curse of the Golden Flower

The Devil Wears Prada


The Queen

2007 Elizabeth: The Golden Age Across the Universe


La Vie en Rose

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

2008 The Duchess Australia

The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttin


Revolutionary Road

2009 The Young Victoria Bright Star

Coco Before Chanel

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus


2010 Alice in Wonderland I Am Love

The King’s Speech

The Tempest

True Grit

2011 The Artist Anonymous


Jane Eyre


2012 Anna Karenina Les Misérables


Mirror Mirror

Snow White and the Huntsman

2013 The Great Gatsby American Hustle

The Grandmaster

The Invisible Woman

12 Years a Slave

2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel Inherent Vice

Into the Woods


Mr. Turner

If there’s one thing this tells us, from the past few years… if you haven’t heard of the movie, it ain’t winning. The Invisible Woman is nice and all, but no one knows what that is. So that’s an initial way to figure out the category.

And, to look quickly, since I don’t put too much stock into what CDG does:

  • 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel won period and won the Oscar.
  • 2013, 12 Years a Slave won Period and lost the Oscar.
  • 2012, Anna Karenina won Period and won the Oscar.
  • 2011, W.E. won Period and lost the Oscar.
  • 2010, Alice in Wonderland won Fantasy and won the Oscar.
  • 2009, The Young Victoria won Period and won the Oscar.
  • 2008, The Duchess won Period and won the Oscar.
  • 2007, Sweeney Todd won Period and lost the Oscar.
  • 2006, Curse of the Golden Flower won Period and lost the Oscar.
  • 2005, Memoirs of a Geisha won Period and won the Oscar.

Before that, the categories were all messed up.

So what this is saying is, in ten years, CDG got it right 6 times and wrong 4 times. You don’t need to look to them for a whole lot of advice. Not to mention, they announce second to last of anybody this year, 5 days before the Oscars. So it really won’t matter except to either confirm our suspicions or make us go, “Well, this is what the Costume Designers like, will that carry over?” No use getting into that now. Let’s assume it’s a non-factor and go from experience and the category itself.

Also, for those who like to keep track of these things:

BAFTA Costumes:

  • 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • 2013, The Great Gatsby
  • 2012, Anna Karenina
  • 2011, The Artist
  • 2010, Alice in Wonderland
  • 2009, The Young Victoria
  • 2008, The Duchess
  • 2007, La Vie en Rose
  • 2006, Pan’s Labyrinth
  • 2005, Memoirs of a Geisha

FYI, that’s only two misses in ten years.


  • 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • 2013, The Great Gatsby
  • 2012, Anna Karenina
  • 2011, The Artist
  • 2010, Alice in Wonderland
  • 2009, The Young Victoria

They’ve never missed.

BFCA gave their award to Mad Max this year.

Best Costume Design



The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant


5. The Danish Girl — I’m actually surprised this movie got as many nominations as it did. It’s not gonna win any of them outside of Alicia Vikander. It easily slides to #5 in almost all of its categories.

4. Carol — I’m following two leads here: the Far from Heaven lead, and the precursor lead. Far from Heaven, nominated for four Oscars, won zero. Precursors, this didn’t win any costume awards as of yet. I think people respect this film, but no one’s voting for it. At best, this seems like it’ll win Score, but Harvey has no momentum with this, and I honestly think this is the second year where Harvey’s big film is gonna go home nearly empty-handed. It doesn’t feel like it has any momentum.

3. The Revenant — I almost had this second. But I realized, why? They like frilly and they like garish here. And these are neither. The last time they went for a film even remotely like this is Gladiator. And even that had upper class kind of clothing. Emperor clothes and shit. And that movie won Best Picture. These westerns never win. This is a bit of a red herring in this category.

2. Cinderella — Sandy Powell is nominated twice in the category, and if there’s one that’s gonna win, it’s this one. This is exactly what they go for in this category. Look at the previous winners. The only reason I haven’t put this as the frontrunner is because Mad Max already has a precursor and I want to wait to see what wins the BAFTA and CDG. It’s one or the other here.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road — If this wins the BAFTA, I have to assume this is the winner, even though Cinderella can overtake it with a BAFTA and/or CDG win. They’re both nominated in Fantasy, so they’re gonna have two head to heads in the next two weeks. We should know pretty easily after those two races come in. For now, this is the frontrunner, and Cinderella is really the only competition.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we go over Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Fun fact: It used to be called Best Combs and Shit.


2 responses

  1. It’s somehow both weird and totally reasonable that Mad Max: Fury Road is poised to take this category.

    February 10, 2016 at 4:34 pm

  2. I wouldn’t mind Mad Max winning but honestly, I feel that it should be Cinderella, if for no other reason that the main thing everyone was talking concerning this movies where the costumes. And it is pretty hard to make those kind of dresses memorable, but somehow they managed it.

    February 10, 2016 at 6:08 pm

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