Loose threads

Posted by · 5:53 pm · January 1st, 2010

Rinko Kikuchi in The Brothers BloomOn the technical side of things, is anyone as uninspired as I am by the apparent frontrunners for Best Costume Design?

I bow to no one in my admiration for the genius of Sandy Powell, but the Easter egg-colored wardrobe of “The Young Victoria” is routine work by her high standards. That hasn’t stopped most picking her as the one to beat, given the Academy’s recent penchant for royal frills in that category.

Another two-time winner, Colleen Atwood, has more awards heat for “Nine” than “Public Enemies” — a situation really not borne out by her flashy but familiar work in the former film. And it’s obvious that Anna B. Sheppard knows her WWII duds inside-out, but does she serve up anything new in the admittedly well-dressed “Inglourious Basterds?”

There is some work worth getting excited about: Janet Patterson’s exquisitely color-coded designs for “Bright Star” looks likely to grab a nod, while there’s spectacle and innovation to spare in fringe contenders like “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” In a less showy register, I’ve already spoken up for Odile Dicks-Mireaux’s smart, character-serving creations for “An Education.”

Any of these titles (not to mention many others) could show up on nomination morning, given the regularity with which this branch picks off-beam contenders ignored elsewhere — think “Across the Universe,” “Troy,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

So with that in mind, can I take this opportunity to highlight Beatrix Aruna Pasztor’s award-caliber contributions to “The Brothers Bloom?” Rian Johnson’s sophomore effort has been largely forgotten since its May debut, and not without justification. But since I saw the film in October 2008, Pasztor’s alternately witty, stylized and silly designs have stuck in my mind.

Of course, the Academy is notoriously resistant to contemporary work in this category. But the threads in “The Brothers Bloom” — plainly retro-inspired, with nods to high couture — are elaborate enough to please them. The self-conscious kookiness on display might irk some, but they are as perfectly married to the tone and style of the film containing them as can be. It’s career-best work from the never-nominated Pasztor, whose previous credits include “The Fisher King,” “Vanity Fair” and the CDG-nominated “Alfie.”

Obviously, it’s the longest of shots — after all, I bet most of you had already forgotten the film before I brought it up — but in this category, nothing should be discounted.

Rinko Kikuchi in The Brothers Bloom

Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz in The Brothers Bloom

→ 24 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

24 responses so far

  • 1 1-01-2010 at 6:07 pm

    Gabe said...

    I love the shout-out for the “Brothers Bloom” costumes! I’m on-board.

  • 2 1-01-2010 at 6:11 pm

    Kevin said...

    Guy, are you aware of any eligibility issues about Wild Things’ costumes? I read somewhere that they may have been, for lack of a better word, created using visual effects and were instead being recognised as such.

  • 3 1-01-2010 at 6:33 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    I’m going to do a break-down of the history of the Costume Design category over the years for my blog, but I’ll say just now that Bright Star is going to take this home. I haven’t seen the film and don’t even have a clue what the costumes look like, but I think it’s a safe bet.

  • 4 1-01-2010 at 6:42 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    I’m mostly just steamed that Fantastic Mr. Fox is ineligible in this category. Le sigh.

  • 5 1-01-2010 at 6:46 pm

    George said...

    The costumes for Where the Wild Things Are only used CGI work for facial expressions.
    I’m hoping it will get a Costume nod, since it won’t get in for Visual Effects with Avatar, Transformers, and Star Trek.

    Watchmen deserves more costume buzz.

  • 6 1-01-2010 at 7:20 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Bruno deserves a nomination here I think

  • 7 1-01-2010 at 7:24 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I’d second that.

  • 8 1-01-2010 at 7:33 pm

    caleb roth said...

    Of course Sheppard brings something new to her WWII costumes. Glamour. The costumes are brilliant, and her work never been so sparkling.

    And, you know, designer always go gray and sad when it comes to WWII. The 40’s never been so colorful since Fassbinder.

  • 9 1-01-2010 at 7:47 pm

    Matt said...

    The idea that WTWTA is a “fringe” nominee is saddening like nothing else. The costumes are a huge part of the film and they worked remarkably well (even the sour-pusses that didn’t “get” what was so special about the movie talked about how great the costumes were). I hope that it moves from fringe to “front-runner” come nomination time. As far as I’m concerned it should be sweeping this year’s Oscars, but sadly it’s destined to be one that people look back on and say, “Why didn’t we realize how amazing that was *immediately*?

  • 10 1-01-2010 at 8:07 pm

    George said...

    Where the Wild Things Are is still getting some sporadic appreciation, but for Oscar nods it’ll just need major support for the members that loved it.

    Where the Wild Things Are’s best shots for nominations are Art Direction and Original Song.
    I’m hoping it also gets Best Picture, Costumes, and Cinematography, though.

  • 11 1-01-2010 at 8:11 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    i think inglourious could take this, but bright star would be a credible choice and wild things

  • 12 1-01-2010 at 9:52 pm

    John said...

    Some costumes that deserve a bit of buzz…

    WATCHMEN…superheroes on acid
    STAR TREK…you actually made those 60’s pajamas look good?
    CHERI…well, it’s definitely pretty and showy
    PUBLIC ENEMIES…duller than dirt as a movie, but the rare period pic that actually felt authentic
    INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS…period picture that looked authentic (ironic given what the filmmaker was up to), several different styles (the Nazis, the peasants, the Basterds, the Brits, etc., the movie star, etc), cast of hundreds
    SHERLOCK HOLMES…showy period, defined character, not the costumers fault that the plot was silly and the editing overdone

  • 13 1-01-2010 at 10:17 pm

    George said...

    Even aside from the actual superhero costumes in Watchmen, the scope of the film opened up decades worth of costumes to create.

  • 14 1-01-2010 at 11:40 pm

    revoir said...

    I know her work was not as good as her designs in “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Sex and the City” but If you’re talking about contemporary costume designs, Patricia Field is definitely in…

    But I support the “The Brothers Bloom” campaign.

  • 15 1-01-2010 at 11:45 pm

    Glenn said...

    Laurant’s red dress in “Inglourious Basterds” is this year’s equiv of Keira Knighley’s green dress in “Atonement”. But, then again, “Atonement” lost to “Elizabeth 2” so… blagh. I really hope “Young Victoria” doesn’t take this. It’d be as lazy as nominating Emily Blunt for the same movie.

    I’ve been saying “Bruno” deserves a nomination here since seeing it. Would be particularly inspired nomination and one thoughtly deserved like “The Devil Wears Prada”.

  • 16 1-02-2010 at 2:07 am

    Mohsin said...

    no ones mentioned Coco Avant Chanel; when I saw this I thought it would be the front runner…

  • 17 1-02-2010 at 2:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    @Revoir: Are you referring to Field’s work on “Confessions of a Shopaholic?”

    I haven’t seen it, so can’t comment.

  • 18 1-02-2010 at 3:14 am

    aspect ratio said...

    The Brothers Bloom could very well get a guild nomination in the contemporary category, but like most contemporary films it’ll have an enormous uphill battle to get an Oscar nomination.

    My general rule for the costume design category is that the more period it is, the better, and the more women that are in the film (preferably in lead and/or prominent roles), the better as well.

  • 19 1-02-2010 at 5:19 am

    Erik 815 said...

    “Inglorious Basterds” should get in just for the stroke of genius of adding a ridiculous cape to Hitler’s costume (but yea, lots of styles, variation, perfect detail. Worthy of a nod easily).

    And again, where’s “a Single Man”? It’s period drama, it looks exquisite, it’s directed by fashion mogul Tom Ford. Surely it must have costume design wortd mentioning.

  • 20 1-02-2010 at 5:50 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I like the work in “A Single Man” — it’s certainly in the hunt.

    But given its small cast and single-day timeframe, I’m not sure the branch will feel it has enough costumes to nominate. They love excess, after all.

  • 21 1-02-2010 at 10:38 am

    Adrianna said...

    “The Brothers Bloom” was visually well put together, including the costumes, which had a great feel of belonging to an artistic period, rather than a time period.

    I’d also agree that “Cheri” had terrific costumes (and art decoration). The costume design, color, character appropriateness, and fabulous cut and drape, were all superb.

  • 22 1-02-2010 at 12:00 pm

    Sarah El said...

    Brothers Bloom shoutout much appreciated! I quite liked that movie and as a big fan of Brick had been anticipating it for quite some time. The costumes in it were quite excellent. :)

  • 23 1-02-2010 at 12:36 pm

    The Overlooked Modern Costumes said...

    What sucks about the costume design awards is that period pieces, and only certain period pieces (180os or prior is good, musicals but not anything after 1950) always rule for some reason. Yes we know that they tend to be hand-crafted, but so are some modern film costumes.

    Why can’t a modern film win best costume design? I’m thinking of the alien-looking bomb suits in “The Hurt Locker”, the animal costumes in “Where the Wild Things Are” or the fun and stylish 1960s wardrobe in “A Serious Man”? What about the cool blue wardrobe, matching the psychosis, in “Anti-Christ”? Can’t even be considered because it’s “modern” or not obvious. What about the dresses and costumes that Alison Lohman wears in “Drag Me to Hell?” She is certainly well dressed in that, especially when she wears that special coat with the missing button. There a piece of wardrobe is written into the script and it still can’t get noticed. Sad!

  • 24 1-02-2010 at 12:51 pm

    Scott C said...

    I would absolutely love to see the Brothers Bloom costumes nominated. Highlight them often!

    And as to the period dramas, personally, I’d take Cheri over Bright Star.