Oscars 2019 Category Breakdown: Best Costume Design

Here’s how this works: every day leading up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. The goal is to both familiarize everyone with the category itself (how it works, what its history is and how you go about figuring out what’s gonna win) while also making it easier to reference when I write my giant article with picks and everything. A lot of the leg work is already here. But really, the goal is to see if there’s anything to look for leading into Oscar night that could be a shortcut to me picking the category.

What we do is — I give you all the winners of the category throughout history, go over all the recent trends if there are any, discuss the precursors and whether or not they matter, and then we talk about this year’s category and how we got to it, and then just look at where we are and rank the nominees in terms of their likelihood of winning (at the current moment in time. Of course, things can and will change going into the ceremony). It’s all pretty simple. I’ve done this every year. Everyone should know the drill.

Today is Best Costume Design. AKA This Is Not a Frill.

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

2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Allied

Florence Foster Jenkins


La La Land

2017 Phantom Thread Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

The Shape of Water

Victoria & Abdul

2018 Black Panther The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen of Scots

It’s a tech guild, so we’ve got the guild, BAFTA and BFCA to look at The guild is CDG, and here’s them historically vs. the Oscars:

  • 2018: Black Panther won Fantasy and won the Oscar.
  • 2017, The Shape of Water won Period and lost the Oscar to Phantom Thread.
  • 2016… this was one of the few times CDG was way off. Hidden Figures won Period and wasn’t nominated for the Oscar. Doctor Strange won Fantasy and also wasn’t nominated. La La Land won Contemporary and lost the Oscar. (Fantastic Beasts won.)
  • 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 to Great Gatsby.
  • 2012, Anna Karenina won Period and won the Oscar.
  • 2011, W.E. won Period and lost the Oscar to The Artist.
  • 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 to Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
  • 2006, Curse of the Golden Flower won Period and lost the Oscar to Marie Antoinette.
  • 2005, Memoirs of a Geisha won Period and won the Oscar.

We can’t go earlier than 2005 for any reliable information. But, from what we have here, they’re 8/14, which is solid enough.

Here are BAFTA’s winners in those years:

  • 2018, The Favourite
  • 2017, Phantom Thread
  • 2016, Jackie
  • 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 10/14.


  • 2018, Black Panther
  • 2017, Phantom Thread
  • 2016, Jackie
  • 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 only missed once, in 2016. So I think we’re set.

Best Costume Design

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit


Little Women

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I think I mentioned this when nominations were announced, but this is the first time EVER that the Costumes category is entirely comprised of Best Picture nominees. It’s never happened. And even when there were two Costumes categories for black-and-white and color, there were never five Best Picture nominees between either of them. That’s crazy.

Otherwise, most of this category is as expected. Joker got on without any precursor anywhere, which is extremely rare. Though given the overall support for the film, not that surprising. (Also, it’s Mark Bridges, who won for The Artist and Phantom Thread, so that’s also probably part of it.) Mostly I’m curious as to why the guild didn’t nominate it. I’m guessing that’s a situation where it had to go on Period and not elsewhere and it couldn’t get the votes over other things. Still, no BAFTA, no BFCA either. Weird. But whatever, here we are and really the big talking point for me is 5/5 Best Picture nominees for the first time ever.

Precursors are limited for us. BFCA went off the board and gave their Costume award to Dolemite Is My name, which didn’t get nominated. And at CDG, only two of the Oscar nominees (Jojo and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) were nominated there. And Jojo won, so at least there’s that. But really, we’ve got like, no help going into BAFTA, and so I’m just gonna guess my way through this and see what BAFTA ends up doing in the end to change our plans. In the end, I don’t suspect my final rankings to be wildly different from this. But hey, one never knows.


5. The Irishman — Saving a BAFTA win, I can’t see how anyone can consider this a major contender for this. You’d think Sandy Powell having done the costumes would be a factor, but she’s been nominated 15 times now and only has three wins to show for it. Granted, one was for The Aviator, but still. These costumes weren’t exactly ‘showy’, and there really hasn’t been a winner where the costumes look as plain as these ones do. I can’t see it happening.

4. Joker — This becomes fourth by default. The big Joker suit is showy enough that it might get some consideration, but the period is the 80s. On that alone, it should probably be considered fifth choice, since outside of fantasy movies (like Black Panther) or the one odd contemporary movie that won (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), there’s never been anything more recent than the 60s in a long time. It’s hard for me to think they’re suddenly gonna go for something this recent. But hey, one never knows.

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — It’s 1969 Hollywood. It has a chance. However, the costumes aren’t that showy, and while I can see it winning for Production Design, I’m not sure Costumes are also in the cards. It lost the guild, and I’m not expecting it to win BAFTA, but given how flimsy this category could be (unless the obvious winner wins), this feels like it has as good a chance as any at this moment in time.

2. Jojo Rabbit — It’s got the guild win, and since we’re only gonna get two precursors’ worth of help this year, that’s as good as anything. BAFTA will tell the tale, so if this wins, then it becomes top choice. If Once Upon a Time wins, this probably bumps down to #3. Otherwise, we’ll keep this at #2 and see what happens. You’ve got the Hitler costume, the paper suits, Sam Rockwell’s war outfit, everything Scarlett wears (including the shoes), technically those robot outfits… it makes sense as a potential choice. Will it happen? Not sure. Gonna stick with my gut for the moment, though, and say it’s no higher than second choice until it wins BAFTA (and even then, I have questions).

1. Little Women — It’s the most period of the nominees. It’s frills. It’s women in dresses in the 19th century. This is the choice if you’re going by the perceived/standard choice for the category in most years. I have to assume it’s gonna win BAFTA, and am gonna consider it the favorite until it loses there. Nothing particularly feels like the runaway winner at the moment, since I can easily see this getting ignored for votes, but if you’re thinking about how people just looking at this category on a ballot would vote, you have to think most people would say either this or Once Upon a Time. But we’ll see what BAFTA says on Sunday.

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