Costume Drama 2016!
Well who knew? 2016 is almost a memory and the Awards Season is just around the corner. That can only mean that its time for the studios to release their ‘Oscar Worthy’ films and that of course means plenty of Costume Dramas for us to sink our teeth into. Let’s start by reviewing some of the major releases although there are tons more that time or space won’t allow me to cover. That will just have to wait for my annual newsletter ‘And the Winners Are..’ which is usually released right after the nominations.
So let’s begin with:
‘The Magnificent 7’
OK, so how many times are they going to recycle ‘7 Samurai’? Personally I prefer Akiro Kurosawa’s original but anything starring Denzel Washington deserves my attention. So here I would like to address the costumes designed by veteran Sharen Davis. Share already has some western cowboy credits having worked with Tarantino in ‘Django Unchained’, and in ‘Magnificent 7’ she does not disappoint; I liked how her use of muted colors to highlight the gang of seven was much like the samurai costumes in the original, but at the same time giving each character their own individual costuming conceit. For example, the Vincent D’Onofrio character’s almost elizabethan looking vest and Denzel’s black on black ensemble. Sharen Davies received an Oscar nomination for her costumes in ‘Django’, so let’s see if the fates smile down on her this awards season.
WOW! This is on my ‘must see’ list and I wish the film would hurry up and make its way out here. It’s not in general release yet, so I may have to drive out to Austin just to see it. ‘The Handmaiden’ is based on a novel by the same name and the story revolves around the relationship between a wealthy heiress and her personal maid. Ok so the story has been told before but not as it’s interpreted by Director Park Chan-woo. This erotic thriller is set in 1930’s Korea and presents luscious sets and costume combining western and eastern aesthetics. Costume Designer Sang-gyeong Jo creates the most exquisite ‘costume porn’ that I have ever seen since ‘The Cell’. So far, Jo has only collaborated on a few previous project with Park and I hope that this breakthrough movie serves as a stepping stone to bigger and greater things. The Envelope Please!
So far of all the films presented here, this has to be my personal favorite. Of course not having seen ‘The Handmaiden’, so that may change. In spite of the obnoxiously bad 3D, this movie was fun to watch and featured so many occult allusions that after the movie ended, I had to run home and brush up on my ‘Key of Solomon.’ But the costumes by Alexandra Byrne are what make the movie shine.Dr Strange’s Magical Cape alone is worth the price of admission and should get a nomination for ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’. It’ll be the first time an article of clothing would receive that recognition and deservedly so. Bad puns aside, the Magic Cape is a ‘stand alone’ performance. Ms. Byrne is a veteran of the Marvel franchise, having designed costumes for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Thor’. Good Job!
‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’
The Harry Potter franchise returns and perennial Oscar nominee/winner Designer Colleen Atwood is in charge of the Costumes once again. Being that this is such a moneymaker for Warner Brothers, Ms. Atwood plays it safe in the wardrobe interpretation but there are some standouts like Seraphina Picquery’s lovely tunic pictured here. There is no doubt in my mind that Colleen Atwood will receive another Oscar nomination but whether she actually gets it is another story. I am keeping my fingers crossed for ‘The Handmaiden’ or ‘Dr. Strange’.
‘The Assassins Creed’
Welcome to the Spanish Inquisition! NOT! Finally, the video games make it to the big screen and like they used to say before the ‘Auto de Fe’, you can’t keep a good Borgia down. Costume designer Sammy Sheldon is a bit of a newcomer here, having started her career in showbiz as an actress but shifted her efforts to working behind the camera. I did a quick IMDB search for her and discovered that her first design effort was for ‘V for Vendetta’ which ostensibly makes her the mother of the Guy Fawkes mask! Who’da thunk it? Well, this broad has just earned my total RESPECT! Unfortunately no amount of string pulling with my contacts in the industry was able to get me a preview of ‘Assassins Creed’ so I guess that I will have to stand in line with all of the lesser mortals when this film goes into general release of December 21st.
This film is a parable on a ‘Post Dallas’ Jackie. Natalie Portman rocks the ‘Locust Valley Lockjaw’ accent playing the widowed First Lady trying to put her life in order following the assignation of her husband. First time designer for a major American film is French costume designer Madeline Fontaine who’s previous credits include ‘Amelie’ and ‘ Asterix at the Olympics’ (really). To her credit she did a good job replicating Jackie’s pink suit worn in Dallas, her widow’s weed’s for the Presidential funeral, telling Jackie’s story through her wardrobe. For the record, I would just like to clarify one thing here and now: Contemporary fashion pundits are saying that the pink suit she wore in Dallas was designed by Chanel. That is WRONG! The suit was actually a Chanel knock off designed by American Designer (and FIT professor emeritus, Pauline Trigere).
The actual worn by JKO is now locked away in the National archives where it will stay out of the public eye until the year 2103.
In this new release from Martin Scorcese, veteran production crew member Dante Ferretti, pulls double duty as both Production Designer AND Costume Designer. This is quite an undertaking for the average mortal. But he has done so in the past for other Scorsese projects such as ‘Kundun’. Looking at the publicity image provided by Paramount Studios, it’s safe to say that only an Italian can manage to make a Jesuit priest look sexy!
Do I smell an Oscar for any of these efforts?
We’ll see when the AMPAS nominations are announced on
January 24, 2017!
Till then, Happy Viewing!
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