Best Costume Design – 1983

Official Nominations: Fanny & Alexander. Cross Creek. Heart Like A Wheel. The Return Of Martin Guerre. Zelig.

You can always rely on the Best Costume Design category to throw up a batch of films most people won’t remember seeing. The average film-going audience of today. Even back in 1983, these weren’t the most popular films. Lets avoid any Population fallacies and judge the movies on their own merits. Fanny & Alexander picked up the win – the Academy giving Bergman movies the soft wins when they can. Marik Vos had been nominated alongside Bergman before, and finally picked up a deserved win. However, it’s a 1982 film, and for my intents and purposes shouldn’t be here.

In the same vein, The Return Of Martin Guerre can be discounted as a 1982 film. Most people will know it as the film Sommersby was the remake of. Decent performances, decent music, and plenty of detailed costumes apparently accurate to what 16th Century French peeps wore.

Cross Creek is a decent, if dull Biography. It was (in 1983) a sort of period piece, and those always get nominated here. Fine. Heart Like A Wheel is similar, but takes place in a more modern period and focuses on Drag Racing, while Zelig follows suit – a Woody Allen effort told in an interesting style. None of the films are the sort of thing I would nominate here, but I have to pick a winner.

My Winner: Zelig

Zelig (1983) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

My Nominations: Flashdance. The Hunger. Krull. Project A. Return Of The Jedi. Scarface. Something Wicked This Way Comes.

None of the official picks make it over to my list. Admittedly, I could cut mine down to five by removing Krull – a film whose budget limitations and datedness gets in the way of its imagination, and Something Wicked This Way Comes which always felt like a TV movie even with its cool costumes for Mr Dark and The Dust Witch.

Flashdance then – a musical, a rags to riches tale of sorts – all fodder for The Academy and the sort of thing you would normally expect to get a nomination or two here. Dancing, and tight leotards, and danger zones were all the rage in the 80s so this seems like a worthy pick here. The Hunger is more offbeat, an exercise in style and one which has a keen eye for fashion and beauty and obsession. Project A is a Hong Kong movie so stood no chance of picking up any nominations – even less so because it’s a Martial Arts movie. But it’s also a period piece which looks swell.

If any of my picks could be classed as snubs here, Scarface would maybe be the one you would pick, its notable excesses exemplified at various points through the use of its often hilariously over the top costuming. My winner, unsurprisingly, is Return Of The Jedi. The sheer effort in crafting costumes, often highly individualised yet fitting for the race involved, for some many people and creatures, is once again ridiculous and makes any other option in this category null and void.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume: 1982

Official Nominations: Gandhi. La Triviata. Sophie’s Choice. Tron. Victor/Victoria

Gandhi is the official winner and the obvious choice. Victor/Victoria is obvious too if you only consider the subject matter and the fact that it’s a Musical. There’s a lot of money and attention thrown at the clothing.

Sophie’s Choice is partly a historical film so ripe for a nomination here, but it feels like a proxy nomination – you’ve got all these big nominations so have this one too. La Triviata looks great on all fronts, while Tron crucially tries to do something different – in this category I tend to go with imagination over historical accuracy – what another or a future world could look like over what we know the world did look like. Tron is dated now, but manages to be iconic too.

My Winner: Tron

Episode 15 - Tron (Steven Lisberger, 1982) — Fantasy/Animation

My Nominations: Tron. La Triviata. Blade Runner. Conan The Barbarian. The Dark Crystal. The Wrath Of Khan.

Only two make it over to my list, joining a bunch which never stood any chance of being nominated in reality. Blade Runner was likely the closest to a genuine nomination, but it makes the conscious decision to stay as close to contemporary fashion versus anything overly outlandish. It’s all in the coats, from Dekkard’s to Rachel to Pris, it’s difficult to separate the character from the outfit.

Conan The Barbarian is the best of all the sword n sandal movies of the era and as such doesn’t look as cheap as others. The costumes aren’t on par with any of the actual nominees, but again they fit the environment and the world of the film wonderfully – you can’t imagine how else the movie should look. The Wrath Of Khan goes several steps further than the original Star Trek movie on all fronts, including costume design. My controversial winner is a movie where there aren’t even any humans to drape costumes over – Dark Crystal setting a new precedent for puppetry and story-telling. I get the sense that costumes are even more important to bring life and character to puppets over people. The attention to detail seems heightened, and the fact that each creature has their own unique look is enough to be a worthy winner for me.

My Winner: The Dark Crystal

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1981

Official Nominations: Chariots Of Fire. The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Pennies From Heaven. Ragtime. Reds.

One of the categories I tend to have very little to comment on, at least for the official nominations. You can take your pick from any of these – they’re all period dramas/musicals designed to look authentic.

My Winner: Ragtime.

My Nominations: Clash Of The Titans. Condorman. Dragonslayer. Escape From New York. Excalibur. Gallipoli. History Of The World Part 1. Knightriders. The Road Warrior. Raiders Of The Last Ark. Time Bandits.

Where to begin with this? Lets start with the least likely to have ever been in with a chance for an Official Nomination. Condorman was panned at release but as flawed as it is, it’s one of the first superhero movies I remember seeing as a child, and it does have some pretty sweet costumes. Knightriders is George Romero tackling jousting with motorcycles – not a hope of being nominated and is barely remembered today, but a lot of fun in look and tone. Escape From New York uses a punk/gang ethos for its futuristic costume design – nothing outlandish and more akin to stylized versions of contemporary street gangs of the 70s and 80s. Dragonslayer is more notable for its special effects, but the costume design is worth a shout too.

History Of The World Part 1 is a satire of the sort of historical and costume dramas the Academy fawns over, so it’s unlikely they would have appreciated the joke against their sacred cow. Excalibur did receive a Bafta nomination for its Costume Design, missing out on an Oscar nomination. Time Bandits takes things to the next level by having memorable costumes for its human and puppet cast. Gallipoli is much more traditional, but it’s good to have at least one War oriented movie nominated each year. Clash Of The Titans, even with a stellar cast, would have been viewed as too cheap and more focused on action and effects to get an official nomination here. Raiders got plenty of other nominations and was passed over here, while The Road Warrior was too outlandish to ever receive an official nomination even if this was the category most likely to be selected.

My Winner: The Road Warrior

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1980

Official Nominations: Tess. The Elephant Man. My Brilliant Career. Somewhere In Time. When Time Ran Out.

It’s the clothes category again. It’s always the period piece which wins, and given the fact that I’m not much of a Period movie fan this isn’t a category I care about. A potential shame because there’s so much interesting Sci Fi and Fantasy out there which should be nominated here. Somewhere In Time isn’t a great movie, but I love the Matheson work and I think it deserves a callout here. When Time Ran Out – no idea why it’s here as nothing stands out about the Costumes or anything else. My Brilliant Career – period piece which is perfectly fine – The Elephant Man, equally deserving of the nomination but nothing exceptional. Tess is your winner out of this bunch.

My Winner: Tess

Costumes from the movie "Tess" directed by Roman Polanski (1979) | Vintage  costumes, Fashion film, Fashion

My Nominations: Tess. The Elephant Man. The Empire Strikes Back. The Blues Brothers. Fame. Flash Gordon. Heaven’s Gate. Kagemusha. Popeye. Xanadu.

Again, you could drop three of the official nominations and replace with three more suitable movies from the Academy’s favourite genres. You’d want to slap a Musical in here – The Blues Brothers is the most iconic and varied, Xanadu is insane, and Fame is your modern traditional musical so the most likely candidate. Heaven’s Gate could have had a nomination here – throw it a bone at least – and Kagemusha was in with a shot. Popeye, as much as I hate it, manages to look like the cartoon/comic and Flash Gordon is the same, but again with more variety. There’s a winner here, an obvious winner, and it’s The Empire Strikes Back and John Mollo.

My Winner: The Empire Strikes Back

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1979

Official Nominations: All That Jazz. Agatha. Butch And Sundance: The Early Days. The Europeans. La Cage Aux Folles.

A runaway winner this year, not because of the overwhelming quality of All That Jazz, but because the other entries just aren’t that exciting. Butch And Sundance is an okay aside to the main course original, Agatha and The Europeans are stock dramas, and La Cage Aux Folles is just nominated for a laugh.

My Winner: All That Jazz

Film Freak Central - All That Jazz (1979) [The Criterion Collection] - Dual-Format Edition


My Nominations: All That Jazz. Alien. Apocalypse Now. The Muppet Movie. Hair. Mad Max. Star Trek. The Warriors.

I steer clear of period dramas, as I tend to do, by adding a variety of war epics and sci-fi classics. Apocalypse Now doesn’t look like a nominee here until the second half once Kurtz’s camp is revealed while Hair has fun with the era garb. Alien is revolutionary in multiple respects – if it doesn’t quite meet that title in terms of Costume Design, it still stands apart from most space movies of the time, including Star Trek which admittedly deals with and portrays a larger universe. Mad Max effectively shows us a world just tipped over into the end times – it has past the point of no return but many inhabitants haven’t quite realised it, with a contrast between those already adapting and those who never will conveyed through costume. The Warriors depicts different gangs through their choice of clothing, while no other movie of the year probably had as much time, dedication, and love spent on costume as The Muppet Movie. 

My Winner: The Muppet Movie

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1978

Official Nominations: Death On The Nile. Caravans. Days Of Heaven. The Swarm. The Wiz.

Agatha Christie works are usually good for a nomination here, alongside other period pieces. It deserves a nomination for sure, but there’s nothing to stand out. Caravans is a mostly listless film which has never received much critical or fan praise, so it seems odd that it received any nomination beyond being another nod for the lady who worked on Cleopatra. The Swarm is equally odd given the fact that it is a mostly ridiculed film and that it doesn’t seem to have any Design flair beyond any other movie of the week. Days Of Heaven at least looks the part, even if the costumes themselves don’t stand out in any shape or form, while The Wiz succeeds where the others mostly fail, making the costumes an extension of the character as well as being memorable on their own.

My Winner: The Wiz

The Wiz: Michael Jackson Behind the Scenes on the Original | Time

My Nominations: The Wiz. Superman. Halloween. Dawn Of The Dead. Days Of Heaven. The Deer Hunter. Death On The Nile. Grease.

The official winner and my winner survive to my list of nominations, joining some obvious and less obvious options. Superman features one of the all time iconic costumes and while that costume wasn’t designed from scratch for the movie, this version of it is probably still the most famous and preferred. Throw in the work to compare Clark’s childhood country life with the design of the big city, alongside those used in the Krypton scenes, and it’s obvious a lot of thought and care went into the design. If Superman features a famous whole costume, then Halloween features a single iconic item – the Michael Myers mask. It’s more than a mask, becoming a symbol of fear in the film and its sequels. Dawn Of The Dead takes special, zany, consideration to the costume design of its zombies with an array of ridiculous and individual costumes.

The Deer Hunter could have earned a nomination here mainly on the basis of being nominated elsewhere, but its clever contrast of home versus ‘over there’, and before versus after is another weapon in its arsenal. Finally, Grease is a film I would have guessed received more nominations than it actually did, with this category being a fairly obvious choice. Both Travolta and Olivia Newton John parade around in costumes which have been parodied over the years, and the backing collection of characters and dancers are each attired in colourful extensions of various 1950s caricatures.

My Winner: Grease

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1977

Official Nominations: Star Wars. Airport 77. Julia. A Little Night Music. The Other Side Of Midnight.

This was a no brainer. Airport 77 is merely an excuse to give Edith Head her yearly nomination, while A Little Night Music is the Academy forcing another musical into the category, regardless of how bad it is. Julia and The Other Side Of Midnight are worthy nominees but being period pieces not so far removed from a recent period of history they don’t feel as startling as nominees from other years. Star Wars then creates a new Universe populated by planets and characters with their own individual fashions and styles. Even if the film only featured Vadar and everyone else wearing the same bland outfit, it would win. Of course we have iconic outfits on a conveyor belt, from the Stormtroopers to Leia’s various dresses, to Han’s space-age gunslinger garb… it’s one of the easiest Oscar wins in history.

My Winner: Star Wars


My Nominations: Star Wars. A Bridge Too Far. The Duellists. New York New York. Jabberwocky.

It’s a little pointless again because we know what the winner is. A Bridge Too Far goes all in on the authentic costumes while The Duellists has more flair, New York New York hits the musical quotient if we must, and Jabberwocky recycles from Holy Grail with a few updates.

My Winner: Star Wars

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1976

Official Nominations: Fellini’s Casanova. Bound For Glory. The Incredible Sarah. The Passover Plot. The Seven Percent Solution.

On the surface this sure seems like a stinker – if the average movie fan has seen any of these it’ll be Bound For Glory which, set in the 1930s only forty years earlier doesn’t exactly strike the period itch adequately. Fellini’s Casanova got the win this year, scratching that itch in a more satisfying manner being set in the 1700s. It feels like an underrated Fellini entry but it’s probably the best adaptation of the life of Casanova, portraying the character in a less than favourable light. The other three films… they range from passable to interesting but none have a hope of winning here.

My Winner: Fellini’s Casanova


My Nominations: Fellini’s Casanova. Bugsy Malone. Buffalo Bill And The Indians. Logan’s Run.

Although I thoroughly loath the film, Bugsy Malone deserves a nod here – not only getting the period marks but also for fitting all those suits and dresses on the kids. Buffalo Bill And The Indians has some snazzy designs while Logan’s Run may be dated now but still retains a unique enough set of designs for its dystopian paradise/nightmare.

My Winner: Fellini’s Casanova

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1975

Official Nominations: Barry Lyndon. The Four Musketeers. Funny Lady. The Magic Flute. The Man Who Would Be King.

I have no real complaints with this one, though I’m not sure Funny Lady really does enough to warrant a nomination. The Magic Flute is dubious too, given that it’s basically a stage opera. The other three films fall into the epic or literary adaptation category and there isn’t much to choose between them.

My Winner: The Man Who Would Be King


My Nominations: The Man Who Would Be King. Barry Lyndon. The Four Musketeers. The Wind And The Lion. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Picnic At Hanging Rock. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Stepford Wives.

A few extra films added, but again none of them truly stand out from any of the others. In that case I go for the most iconic option.

My Winner: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Costume Design – 1974

Official Nominations: The Great Gatsby. Chinatown. Daisy Miller. The Godfather Part II. Murder On The Orient Express.

It wasn’t my intention to have The Godfather Part II win everything, but when you compare it to everything else here, remembering it features styles from at least two entirely different eras spread between US and Sicily, it’s the clear winner. The Great Gatsby got the official win, as period pieces generally do, and while it is authentic it’s at least an equal to Daisy Miller. Chinatown and Murder On The Orient Express are on fairly level footing too.

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

My Nominations: The Great Gatsby. Chinatown. Daisy Miller. The Godfather Part II. Murder On The Orient Express. Blazing Saddles. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. Zardoz.

All the regulars make it over, and I add a few more period pieces. Zardoz…. has to be seen to be believed, and if you see Sean Connery’s costume you know all you need to know. About anything. Blazing Saddles speaks for itself, while The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad earns my alternative pick thanks to plenty of fine detail fleshing out many of its exuberant characters.

My Winner: The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad

Let us know in the comments which film you pick as winner!