The Academy Award for Best Costume Design is a tribute to the visionaries who, with fabric and thread, create more than just attire; they craft identities, time periods, and atmospheres.

These designers transform actors into monarchs, rebels, dreamers, and heroes, ensuring that every fold, hue, and silhouette complements the narrative’s heart and soul.

In this guide, we unravel the artistry behind cinematic wardrobes, saluting those maestros whose impeccable designs have been etched in film history.

Journey with us through the illustrious legacy of the Best Costume Design Oscar winners, and immerse yourself in the sartorial symphonies that have elevated movies into visual feasts.

Academy Award for Best Costume Design

Step into the world of the “Academy Award for Best Costume Design,” where fabrics tell tales and stitches shape stories.

Celebrate the designers who, with unparalleled artistry, transport audiences across eras and realms.

From historical epics to fantasy adventures, discover the craft that dresses characters in unforgettable attire, earning both acclaim and Oscar’s spotlight.

1. Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” is a historical drama film released in 2007, directed by Shekhar Kapur. It is a sequel to the critically acclaimed film “Elizabeth” (1998) and continues the story of Queen Elizabeth I of England, played by Cate Blanchett.

Set in the late 16th century, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” explores the challenges and triumphs of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.

vThe film focuses on her struggles to maintain power and sovereignty amidst political intrigue and threats from abroad, particularly the Spanish Armada.

vvvIt also delves into her personal relationships, including her complicated romance with Sir Walter Raleigh, portrayed by Clive Owen.

Cate Blanchett delivers a captivating performance as Queen Elizabeth I, reprising the role that earned her an Academy Award nomination in the first film. Her portrayal showcases the queen’s strength, intelligence, and resolve, as well as her vulnerabilities and internal conflicts.

The film features lavish production design, opulent costumes, and impressive cinematography to recreate the Tudor era. It emphasizes the grandeur of Elizabethan England and the intricate political and religious landscape of the time.

“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” received mixed reviews from critics but was appreciated for its visual splendor, strong performances, and the continuation of the story of Queen Elizabeth I.

   

Cate Blanchett’s performance was particularly praised, earning her a nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

While “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” may take some dramatic liberties with historical events, it offers an engaging portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign and her enduring legacy as one of England’s most iconic monarchs.v

Elizabeth: The Golden Age [DVD] [2007]
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  • English, French, Arabic, Danish, Dutch (Subtitles)

2. The Duchess (2008)

“The Duchess” is a 2008 historical drama film directed by Saul Dibb. The movie is based on Amanda Foreman’s biography of Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire.

The film stars Keira Knightley in the title role, with a supporting cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, and Dominic Cooper.

Set in 18th-century England, “The Duchess” tells the story of Georgiana, who marries the powerful and influential Duke of Devonshire.

Despite her initial excitement about her marriage, Georgiana soon finds herself trapped in a loveless and restrictive relationship.

She struggles to navigate the societal expectations placed upon her and becomes a prominent figure in fashion and politics, using her influence to champion various causes.

“The Duchess” explores themes of love, duty, and the limitations faced by women in the 18th century. It depicts Georgiana’s complex relationship with her husband, her friendship with Lady Bess Foster, and the emotional turmoil she experiences as she seeks to assert her independence.

The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with praise for Keira Knightley’s performance and the lavish production design. Knightley’s portrayal of Georgiana earned her a nomination for the British Academy Film Award for Best Actress.

“The Duchess” is known for its sumptuous costumes and period detail, capturing the opulence and social constraints of Georgian society.

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The Duchess (2008)
  • Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling (Actors)
  • English, French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

3. The Great Gatsby (2013)

“The Great Gatsby” is a film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel of the same name, directed by Baz Luhrmann and released in 2013.

The film captures the extravagant and tumultuous world of 1920s New York, exploring themes of love, wealth, and the American Dream.

In “The Great Gatsby,” Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Jay Gatsby, a mysterious and wealthy man who throws lavish parties in his grand mansion.

Tobey Maguire plays Nick Carraway, a young bond salesman and Gatsby’s neighbor, who becomes entangled in the lives of Gatsby and the Buchanan family, including Daisy Buchanan, played by Carey Mulligan, and her husband Tom, played by Joel Edgerton.

The film showcases the opulence and decadence of the Roaring Twenties, with elaborate costumes, stunning visual effects, and a modern soundtrack. Director Baz Luhrmann’s distinctive style infuses the film with vibrant energy and a sense of grandeur.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby is widely praised, capturing the character’s charisma, longing, and internal conflict. The film explores Gatsby’s obsession with recapturing the love of his life, Daisy, and the tragic consequences of his relentless pursuit.

“The Great Gatsby” received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for its visuals and performances, but some criticism for its divergences from the source material. Nevertheless, the film was a commercial success and garnered a strong fanbase.

The adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” offers a visually striking and stylized interpretation of Fitzgerald’s novel, immersing viewers in the lavishness and turbulence of the Jazz Age.

The performances, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby, contribute to the film’s exploration of love, ambition, and the illusions of the American Dream.

The Great Gatsby
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan (Actors)
  • Baz Luhrmann (Director) - Baz Luhrmann (Writer) - Baz Luhrmann (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. Anna Karenina (2012)

“Anna Karenina” is a 2012 British historical romantic drama film directed by Joe Wright. The film is based on the classic novel of the same name by Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1877.

   

It features a talented ensemble cast, including Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

In “Anna Karenina,” Keira Knightley takes on the titular role of Anna, a married woman who embarks on a passionate affair with Count Vronsky, portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

The story is set in 19th-century Russia and explores themes of love, infidelity, societal expectations, and the consequences of one’s actions.

What sets this adaptation apart is its unique and visually striking approach. Rather than using traditional location shoots, the film employs a theatrical setting, with scenes unfolding on a stage and characters transitioning between different settings seamlessly.

This creative choice allows the film to delve into the characters’ inner lives while commenting on the performative nature of societal roles.

Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Anna Karenina received positive reviews, with her performance capturing the character’s emotional turmoil and internal struggles.

The film also showcases the talents of Jude Law, who plays Anna’s husband, Karenin, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who brings depth to the role of Count Vronsky.

“Anna Karenina” was praised for its stunning visuals, intricate costume design, and beautiful cinematography. It received numerous accolades and nominations, particularly in technical categories such as production design and costume design.

While the film takes creative liberties with its theatrical presentation, it still captures the essence of Tolstoy’s novel and explores the complex emotions and moral dilemmas faced by its characters.

It offers a fresh perspective on the timeless tale of forbidden love and societal expectations, appealing to both fans of the original novel and newcomers to the story.

Overall, “Anna Karenina” is a visually captivating and emotionally resonant adaptation that brings new dimensions to Leo Tolstoy’s classic work. It stands as a testament to Joe Wright’s directorial vision and the talents of its cast, particularly Keira Knightley in the lead role.

Anna Karenina
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Actors)
  • Joe Wright (Director) - Tom Stoppard (Writer) - Tim Bevan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. The Young Victoria (2009)

“The Young Victoria” is a 2009 historical drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. The film portrays the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign and her romance with Prince Albert.

It offers a glimpse into the life of Queen Victoria before she ascended the throne and explores her personal and political struggles.

In “The Young Victoria,” Emily Blunt takes on the role of Queen Victoria, portraying her as a young woman who faces immense pressure and challenges as she assumes the responsibilities of ruling a nation.

The film delves into her complex relationship with Prince Albert, played by Rupert Friend, and their journey from initial acquaintance to a deep and enduring love.

“The Young Victoria” examines the societal expectations and political pressures that Queen Victoria faced during her reign, as well as the personal conflicts she encountered in asserting her independence and finding her voice.

The film highlights Victoria’s determination to make her mark as a monarch and to shape her own destiny.

Emily Blunt’s performance as Queen Victoria in “The Young Victoria” garnered critical acclaim, showcasing her talent in capturing the strength, vulnerability, and growth of the character.

Her portrayal portrayed Victoria’s evolution from a sheltered young woman to a powerful and influential queen.

The film received positive reviews for its lush cinematography, detailed costume design, and its portrayal of historical events. “The Young Victoria” won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, recognizing the film’s meticulous attention to period detail.

“The Young Victoria” offers a captivating glimpse into the early reign of Queen Victoria and her personal journey of self-discovery and love.

It presents a compelling portrayal of a young monarch navigating the complexities of power, politics, and personal relationships, and the enduring legacy she would leave behind.

The Young Victoria
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany (Actors)
  • Jean-Marc Vallée (Director) - Graham King (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. The Aviator (2004)

“The Aviator” is a biographical drama film released in 2004. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film tells the story of the renowned American aviation pioneer, filmmaker, and business magnate, Howard Hughes.

It explores Hughes’ life from the 1920s to the 1940s, focusing on his achievements in aviation, his film career, and his struggles with mental health.

In “The Aviator,” Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Howard Hughes, capturing his charisma, ambition, and inner turmoil.

The film delves into Hughes’ groundbreaking achievements in aviation, including his record-setting flights and his involvement in the development of innovative aircraft.

It also explores his passion for filmmaking, as he produces and directs movies such as “Hell’s Angels” and “The Outlaw.”

“The Aviator” also delves into Hughes’ personal life, including his relationships with some of Hollywood’s leading actresses, such as Katharine Hepburn, played by Cate Blanchett, and Ava Gardner, portrayed by Kate Beckinsale.

The film depicts Hughes’ struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and the impact it had on his personal and professional life.

The film received critical acclaim and garnered several Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Katharine Hepburn.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Howard Hughes was highly praised, showcasing his versatility and commitment as an actor. The film’s visual style, period authenticity, and Scorsese’s meticulous direction added to its success.

“The Aviator” offers a compelling portrayal of Howard Hughes’ life, capturing both his extraordinary achievements and the challenges he faced.

It provides a window into the world of aviation and the golden age of Hollywood, immersing viewers in the glamorous and tumultuous era.

The film’s exploration of Hughes’ complex personality and his battles with mental health humanizes the enigmatic figure, making it a compelling character study.

Overall, “The Aviator” is a captivating biographical drama that showcases the talent of its cast and the artistry of its director, offering a glimpse into the remarkable life of Howard Hughes and the impact he made in both aviation and the film industry.

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The Aviator (2004)
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  • AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color
  • English (Subtitled), Spanish (Subtitled), French (Subtitled)
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7. Marie Antoinette (2008)

“Marie Antoinette” is a historical drama film released in 2006 and directed by Sofia Coppola. The film portrays the life of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France before the French Revolution.

The movie focuses on Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst, from her arrival in France as a young Austrian princess to her marriage to Louis XVI, played by Jason Schwartzman, and her subsequent reign as queen.

Rather than following a traditional historical narrative, the film takes a more unconventional approach, exploring Marie Antoinette’s personal life, lavish lifestyle, and the societal pressures and expectations she faced.

“Marie Antoinette” delves into the opulence of the French court and the extravagant parties and pleasures Marie Antoinette indulged in, while also shedding light on her isolation, loneliness, and struggles within the confines of her role.

The film captures the contrasts between the sumptuousness of the court and the growing unrest and poverty among the French people, which eventually led to the French Revolution.

Sofia Coppola’s interpretation of Marie Antoinette’s story emphasizes the humanity and vulnerability of the queen, showcasing her as a young woman thrust into a complex and volatile world.

The film is known for its lush visuals, lavish costumes, and anachronistic soundtrack, which juxtapose the historical setting with modern elements.

While the film received mixed reviews upon its release, it has garnered a cult following over time, with many appreciating its unique perspective and artistic vision.

Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Marie Antoinette was praised for its depth and nuance, capturing both the naivety and growth of the character.

“Marie Antoinette” offers a stylized and introspective portrayal of the iconic historical figure, presenting her as a complex and sympathetic individual caught in the midst of significant historical events.

It explores themes of privilege, identity, and the pressures of monarchy, while presenting a visually captivating and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

Marie Antoinette
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rose Bryne (Actors)
  • Sofia Coppola (Director) - Sofia Coppola (Writer) - Ross Katz (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. Phantom Thread (2017)

“Phantom Thread” is a drama film released in 2017, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville in the lead roles.

Set in 1950s London, “Phantom Thread” tells the story of Reynolds Woodcock (played by Daniel Day-Lewis), a renowned dressmaker and fashion designer.

Woodcock leads a meticulously structured and controlled life, which is disrupted when he meets Alma (played by Vicky Krieps), a young woman who becomes his muse and lover.

Their relationship evolves in unexpected and complex ways, challenging Woodcock’s routines and bringing new dynamics to his creative process.

Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a remarkable performance as Reynolds Woodcock, displaying the meticulousness, perfectionism, and emotional complexities of the character. His portrayal earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville also deliver strong performances, adding depth to their respective characters.

The film is praised for its elegant and atmospheric cinematography, detailed period setting, and exquisite costume design, which immerses viewers in the world of high fashion.

The screenplay, written by Paul Thomas Anderson, delves into the themes of obsession, control, and the intricate power dynamics within relationships.

“Phantom Thread” received critical acclaim for its artistry and storytelling, earning several award nominations, including several Academy Award nominations. It won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

The film serves as a captivating exploration of the intricacies of human relationships and the pursuit of artistic perfection.

With its strong performances, meticulous craftsmanship, and thought-provoking narrative, “Phantom Thread” stands as a notable addition to Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography.

Phantom Thread
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director) - Paul Thomas Anderson (Writer) - JoAnne Sellar (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

9. Little Women (2019)

“Little Women” is a 2019 coming-of-age period drama film directed by Greta Gerwig. It is based on the beloved novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, first published in 1868.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep.

“Little Women” follows the lives of the March sisters—Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth—as they navigate their journey from adolescence to adulthood in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

The film explores themes of family, love, ambition, and the societal expectations placed upon women during that time period.

Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” intertwines the past and present timelines, providing a fresh perspective on the story. Saoirse Ronan portrays the fiercely independent Jo March, who aspires to be a writer.

Emma Watson plays the responsible and traditional Meg, Florence Pugh portrays the artistically inclined and ambitious Amy, and Eliza Scanlen portrays the gentle and musically talented Beth.

The film received critical acclaim for its performances, screenplay, direction, and faithfulness to the source material. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won the Best Costume Design category.

“Little Women” resonated with audiences, capturing the timeless themes and spirit of sisterhood that have made the novel enduringly popular.

Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” has been praised for its contemporary relevance and its celebration of female agency and creativity. It stands as a poignant and heartfelt portrayal of sisterhood, love, and the pursuit of dreams in a changing world.

10. Gladiator (2000)

“Gladiator” is an epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott and released in 2000. The film stars Russell Crowe in the lead role as Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman general who is betrayed by the corrupt Emperor Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix.

“Gladiator” is set in ancient Rome and follows Maximus as he seeks revenge against Commodus while rising through the ranks of gladiatorial combat.

The film depicts the brutal and grandiose world of the Roman Colosseum, showcasing intense battles and political intrigue.

Russell Crowe’s performance as Maximus in “Gladiator” is widely acclaimed and is considered one of his most iconic roles.

Crowe brings a sense of strength, honor, and vulnerability to the character, portraying Maximus as a skilled warrior driven by a desire for justice and revenge. His portrayal earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor.

The film received critical acclaim for its compelling storytelling, impressive action sequences, and detailed production design.

It won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects, and remains highly regarded for its epic scale and emotional resonance.

“Gladiator” resonated with audiences for its exploration of themes such as honor, loyalty, and the corrupting nature of power. The film’s mix of intense action, political intrigue, and emotional depth made it a standout in the historical epic genre.

The performance of Russell Crowe as Maximus in “Gladiator” remains one of the film’s defining features. His portrayal elevated the character into a cinematic icon, embodying the strength and determination of a legendary warrior in ancient Rome.