Friday, February 14, 2014

Costume Design

I can only write so many posts ahead of time, so now I'm writing from the road.  I hope you'll forgive the greater amount of mistakes, fewer sceencaptures, and perhaps shorter form. Time will tell just how much I enjoy writing on a tablet; my current feeling is that I don't.

Today I'm going to look at costume design which I took some delight in. The films garnering nominations are

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman 
  • 12 Years a Slave
Much has been written about American Hustle. More might have been written about Amy Adams' sideboob. If you had told me that this was a two-plus hour film about her and Jennifer Lawrence's boobs, nothing about the film would have changed that opinion. A lot of things felt like an overreach, none more so than the costumes. I'll tell you what I did like. Bradley Cooper's three piece suit and Christian Bale's tie in the opening scene. I know I'm of the minority opinion, but can I stop writing about American Hustle please? The whole thing felt like a fraud, which is perhaps the most accurate thing about the film.

I don't get enough options to talk about The Grandmaster. The costuming is at times restrained by the barest of threads and wonderfully understated in others. The use of costume as uniform is carried out exceedingly well when attempted. It made beautiful statements but only when necessary leaving many characters appropriately muted.

If we want to talk about a film overreaching, though, The Great Gatsby was as overreaching as it gets. Fortunately for it, This whole film is about going further than is sensible. It felt like entirely too much, and instead of feeling like a fraud, it felt earnest. It was an orgy of fabrics and jewels, and it was perfect.

I still can't believe costume design is the only category for which The Invisible Woman is nominated. I seem to be the only person of this opinion. Felicity Jones in particular delivered a really special performance. The costuming here was wonderful without overreaching. The costumes were beautiful, tone-setting, and appropriate. The amount a detail is exquisite without looking terribly anachronistic.

12 Years a Slave does an admirable job of creating atmosphere with clothing. There may be no such thing as too many pinstripes and hats, and unlike American Hustle, I actually like the breasts here. Maybe because it's referring to their number on a vest, rather than in a chest. The fineries felt maybe a shade too fine, and the rags a little too redundant (understandably) to put this at the pinnacle. The wardrobes were very nicely done, but felt like they would perhaps be more at home in the confines of a play than as a semi-historical film.

There are a number of things I truly enjoyed that make it difficult to narrow down between The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, and The Invisible Woman. I really think Gatsby will take home the statue, but, to me, The Invisible Woman had costumes that were perfectly understated. There is a lot of flash in every other film, but this one did just as much to sell its image without ever exaggerating the fashion and broadcasting as loudly and brightly as possible. To perform that admirably that quietly is a true testament of talent. 

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