Saturday, 11 February 2012

BAFTA Costume Design nominees

Last year's winner, Colleen Atwood, who won for Alice in Wonderland

Costume can be an under-appreciated art in the film industry, but it has seen an improvement in recent years. This year's nominees for the Orange British Academy Film Awards all reflect a nostalgic mood which has run through cinema recently, as all are period dramas, spanning from the 1830s to the early 1970s. There seems to be a particular fascination with the period from pre-WW1 to post-WW2. I think they're all worthy nominees in terms of costume, as each has had to achieve the look of an era while maintaining a character's individuality. Let's take a closer look.

The Artist - Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges has a pretty respectable back catalog including The Fighter and There Will Be Blood, but nothing has garnered quite such acclaim as this year's sensational silent movie The Artist. I think that the key to this year's success lies in the fact that his previous work has been more functional to the filming than central to the plot. The challenge with a black and white film is of course to capture the character's personality without the use of colour. It is not a challenge which arises for many costume designers these days, and I think Bridges has caught the golden age superbly considering this.

Hugo - Sandy Powell

Sandy Powell is an absolute goddess of the industry and has already won 3 Oscars for her work on Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and Young Victoria. While Hugo is set in 1930s Paris, there is also an element of fairytale nostalgia (you know, the kind you see in Harry Potter et al) which makes it an interesting film visually. From the picture above, you can tell that the palette is quite dusty, full of golds and browns, but Powell has once again created a simple but beautiful wardrobe by mixing patterns and textures for an eclectic feel.

Jane Eyre - Michael O'Connor

Michael O'Connor was probably an obvious choice for this Bronte adaptation, as he is best know for his Oscar-winning costume design in the Kiera Knightley period drama The Duchess. While Jane Eyre requires nothing quite so extravagant, there is a sort of natural progression from one period to the other, and he is clearly a master of the full skirt. I have chosen an image which does not feature the title character, which is because I just adore this dress. Look at the way it matches the scene through the colours of the stripes which are identical to the shades of the framing flowers. It is a typical style of early Victorian fashion, but also avoids a common misconception we may have of this era being drab and dull. A very fitting (in more ways than one) wardrobe.

My Week With Marilyn - Jill Taylor

My personal favourite, I have already waxed lyrical on the excellent visuals in this film about the filming of The Prince and The Showgirl, not least of which were the costumes. I think the main achievement has to be the exquisite balance between orignal creations in the style of the time and painstaking recreations of outfits Marilyn was photographed wearing. Jill taylor has a huge collection of British films to be proud of under her belt already, such as Johnny English and The Full Monty, and I'm hoping that this year sees her receive the recognition she deserves.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Jacqueline Durran

Even rather serious, grey films set in the Cold War need an outstanding costume department. Jacqueline Durran is another designer with more than one aesthetically pleasing British film on her CV, and here she has again worked her magic to make a set of costumes which fit the mood, setting and time of the film (unfortunately whoever did the shot above wasn't quite so historically accurate as I can see a plastic reflective bollard in the far left which I don't think they had in the early 1970s). However, I think if it does win, it will be less a reflection of this film alone, which, let's face it, is mainly about Gary Oldman's glasses, it will be more becasue another BAFTA is owed to Durran. She has won before, for Vera Drake, but only nominated for Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. While it is a great achievement in accurate menswear, I just don't see this film winning based on trench coats and suits alone.

And a quick note on the Oscars:
The first 3 on this list remain the same, but instead of Tinker and Marilyn, they have Anonymous and W.E. These are both worthy nominations and I'm not sure why BAFTA passed over them, especially Anonymous, which is filled with sumptious Elizabethan costume. Again, they fit in with the trend for period dramas, and I rather think they have a good chance (or let's hope so, because they haven't been nominated for anything else).

All images from IMDB

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