Oscars 2016 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 typically goes, voting-wise, historically and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

What I do is 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 voted, 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. So you know what the general favorites are.

Today is Best Costume Design. An all-frills category.

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

2015 Mad Max: Fury Road Carol


The Danish Girl

The Revenant

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:

  • 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road won Fantasy and won the Oscar.
  • 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.

They’re 7/11 in the years that matter. They’re good, but they’re not the automatic people to listen to. They also announce really late, so we won’t be using them for the purposes of this article. Mostly just using them to confirm or alter what we think going into Oscar night.

Oh, and BAFTA —

  • 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 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

They’re 9/11.


  • 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 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.

BAFTA and BFCA both went to Jackie.

CDG this year was:

Period — Hidden Figures

Fantasy — Doctor Strange

Contemporary — La La Land

Best Costume Design


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins


La La Land

This was an interesting year because they didn’t go for the frilly period stuff at all. Not that anyone really saw Love & Friendship or whatever the other one was that had those costumes… The Dressmaker, I think was the other. But you figure the actual costume designers would go for that sort of stuff. But hey, the two to three nominees we all figured ended up on there, so it’s about where it usually is.


5. Allied — Normally I’d give this higher than fifth, but with one measly nomination, does this stand any chance at getting votes? This film was universally ignored. This and The Light Between Oceans are the two movies from 2016 whose receptions throw me for a loop. But whatever. I’m putting this below Fantastic Beasts because at least there they think “period, fantasy, costumes” and maybe throw it a vote. This — what do they have to remember from this movie? Let it win. Not worth your time thinking about. You know the last time a World War II movie won this category? That’s right, never. Not even right after World War II happened. So keep it fifth.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — It’s a fantasy film with big costumes. They’ll consider it, but it won’t win. A few votes will go its way, but not nearly enough to take it seriously in the category. Harry Potter has only been nominated in this category once, and this won’t be the one that wins it. Fourth choice, and it might have been fifth if not for that alarming statistic about World War II movies in this category. Though I’m also thinking this might squeeze up to third in the end. We’ll see.

3. Florence Foster Jenkins — Because the costumes are pretty garish. If there was anything this movie was guaranteed to be nominated for outside of Meryl, it was the costumes. Costumes second, makeup third and production design fourth. In that order. This needed some sort of precursor win to make a better showing. I don’t think people cared about this movie enough to throw it enough votes for it to win. Even though they think of this category as being about the showiest costumes, look at the previous winners. Mad Max — showy in a particular way. Grand Budapest. Gatsby. Anna Karenina. The Artist is actually an outlier as a winner. Alice in Wonderland. The Young Victoria. The Duchess. Very period, but in recent years they’ve been rewarding auteurs for bold work. Or standbys, when you think about it. Wes Anderson, Baz Luhrmann, Tim Burton. They tend to do well in these categories. My point is, this movie — what is there that’s memorable enough to where they’d want to vote for it? Not a whole lot. Third choice, only because the other two seem like instant no-gos. This is a two horse race with a clear favorite.

2. La La Land — The sweep vote is one thing. Plus you have the Artist situation where it wins costumes because, you know… musical. But honestly, this was one category I see it losing without much fanfare. Of the 14 awards its nominated for, it’s gonna lose at least one of them, since it’s nominated for Song twice. It should lose Sound Editing. It should lose Best Actor. It should probably lose Original Screenplay, though that’s up for discussion. At this point you need to both think logically about the categories — where does it make sense for it to win — and also think about how many awards it’s really going to win. This seems like one it could lose pretty easily. Picture, Director, Score, Sound Mixing and Editing seem pretty locked. Song seems almost assured, but not a given. Actress looks like a good bet at this point. Cinematography is open, but probable. That’s eight right there. The two left that are really up for discussion are Costumes and Production Design. I’m locking it into 8 awards with the possibility for 10. I’m thinking 8-9 is the final tally, and this is one that helps swing that vote. I don’t think it gets there, and I’m not making it the favorite, but you need to take the sweep vote seriously in a category like this while also recognizing that they do tend to vote elsewhere in fringe categories like this in order to spread the wealth where it makes sense.

1. Jackie — Speaking of making sense, what film makes the most sense in this category if not Jackie? It won two precursors (and CDG is irrelevant because their winner wasn’t even nominated), and features recreations of one of the mot famous outfits in history. It should win this category easily. It’s everything this category was made for. This is the favorite. Who are we kidding?

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we go over Best Actress.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.