Jacqueline West is the only American nominated this year and was at one time a resident of the Bay Area, designing her own line and running her own boutique in Berkeley, California. She has strutted down the Academy Awards red carpet before having been nominated for Quills (2000) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).
The Revenant staring Leonardo DiCaprio, is the true story of American fur trapper Hugh Glass, who, on an expedition in 1823, is attacked by a bear and left for dead by his team. But he doesn’t die and that’s the movie.
Ms. West told The Film Experience blog that she was familiar with this story and started her research reading Glass’ journals: In this one journal it said that when the trappers arrived off the boats after two years out trapping you couldn’t tell what the fabric was of their clothing, it was so covered in grease. I took that as a mantra!
The costumes for this film are unlike the other nominees this year in that they had to be well worn and heavy for the cold rugged outdoors and there’s not much variation. Lots of fur was used, of course, most of it from Canada. It’s not a showy film for costumes but there was still a lot of creativity and crafting involved.
Costumers are nominated for an Oscar by other costumers who are members of the Academy, just as directors nominate other directors and so on. Winners are chosen by ballot – each member of the Academy casts a vote for each category. There are currently around 6300 Academy members.
Having not seen all the films nominated, I can’t say who I think will or should win. I know what appeals to me based on my research and that would be The Danish Girl but that’s purely what I like and what I think was well done for the period. Sometimes what is outstanding on a technical level, is not visually exciting or attractive.
As we know costumes in films and plays are not fashion, they are one part of telling a story.
Best of luck to Jacqueline West and congratulations to all the nominees.