With having nabbed Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and Costume Designers Guild, Cruella is the far out in frontrunner for the Costume Design Oscar. Hitting two quadrants voters love: a period piece and a film about design itself, the film and designs are an exciting blend of 80s punk meets The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and will be an undeniable hook.
Cruella costumer Jenny Beavan is an 11-time nominee and a two-time winner already (for 1985’s A Room with a View and 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road) and a win here would push her into Sandy Powell/Colleen Atwood territory among the most-rewarded living costume designers.
Working slightly to Cruella‘s disadvantage is that for the past 30 years, only five Costume Design Oscar winners have not had a matching Production Design nomination: 1994’s The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, 2006’s Marie Antoinette, 2007’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 2017’s Phantom Thread, and 2019’s Little Women. From that list we have one of the most creative winners of all time, previous winning designers, and Best Picture nominees. Back in its favor is Cruella‘s Makeup and Hairstyling nomination, which only Dune has both in as well.
Does that leave room for the luxurious 1940s glamour of Nightmare Alley, the color story that the designs of West Side Story tell or the utilitarian sci-fi of CDG winner Dune? The Academy, while it loves its 40s-60s period pieces and classic royalty, isn’t afraid of fantasy and science fiction-based either. 2018’s Black Panther, 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (although more period than fantasy), the aforementioned Mad Max and 2010’s Alice in Wonderland all speak to that.
In the end, it should be the devilish wares of Cruella that triumph. Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions in Costume Design.
- Cruella (Walt Disney) – CCA, BAFTA, CDG
- Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – CCA, BAFTA, CDG
Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan
- Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) – CCA, BAFTA, CDG
- West Side Story (20th Century Studios) – CCA, CDG
- Cyrano (MGM/UAR) – BAFTA, CDG
Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran
Photo: Laurie Sparham