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The Shape of Water Wins at the Costume Design Guild, Upsetting Phantom Thread

We haven’t spent a lot of time analyzing the costume category for the simple reason that the match ups between the CDG and the Oscar for Best Costume aren’t a solid match over the years. In fact, they’re so different that we stopped building charts and looking at costumes in terms of stats. The reason for this is that the costume designers are actual professionals. Those who vote in the Oscars are professionals of other crafts. They pick costumes for the same reason we do – because they look the best. All the same, people will never vote for costumes for a movie they don’t like. And they’ll likely not vote for it for a movie they haven’t seen. I get why the costumers went for Shape over Phantom but it’s not obvious until you really think about the movie itself, the clever and intricate costumes throughout, particularly with Michael Shannon’s nuclear family but also what Sally Hawkins wears in the musical fantasy sequence, vs. what she wears in ordinary life, vs. her work uniform. The juxtaposition of these three things helps to tell a story. Also, her red coat is, by now, iconic.

Phantom Thread is beloved enough to knock out Martin McDonagh in director and put in Paul Thomas Anderson, that says it could be beloved enough that they want to “give it something.” Plenty of films win costume and nothing else but in the era of the preferential ballot – when a Best Picture contender wins costume, it tends to win along with other awards. Like The Artist, or Mad Max: Fury Road or Grand Budapest Hotel. Of all of those, both Budapest and Fury Road also won CDG. W.E. beat The Artist.

That would seem to give Shape the edge because Phantom Thread is not expected to win any other Oscars except that one. Anything’s possible, of course. More common in the era of the preferential ballot has been films that aren’t nominated for Best Picture and that might give Beauty and the Beast the edge.

I would not bet against Phantom Thread to win this, unless it’s a Shape sweep like it kind of was for Fury Road.  If they have the chance to give Phantom Thread something they might not pass it up.