Director: Stephen Frears
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Beeban Kidron, and Tracey Seaward
Writer: Lee Hall
Cinematography: Danny Cohen
Composer: Thomas Newman
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Run-time: 111 minutes
FILM SYNOPSIS: Muslim clerk Abdul Karim is selected to travel from India to England to present Queen Victoria with a ceremonial coin in honor of her Golden Jubilee. The bored monarch is delighted by the lively young man and the two quickly become friends, much to the chagrin of Victoria’s family and advisors.
Despite not getting a nomination for himself this year, director Stephen Frears is well known by the Academy. With films like “The Queen,” “Philomena,” and “Florence Foster Jenkins,” the man is great at elevating his actors and actresses and pushing the period in which the films take place. With “Victoria and Abdul,” he does the same thing, by pushing the costumes from this world and delivering something truly unique. Upon first glance of the film, I deemed it not worthy of nomination. It did not look like it quite lived up to his previous work, although I felt the same about “Florence Foster Jenkins,” which got a nomination for Meryl Streep in the leading role and for Costume Design. Upon seeing the film, I do agree that the Costume Design in this was phenomenal, offering both characters of the Queen Victoria and her teacher Abdul some very brilliant and memorable costumes. The Makeup and Hairstyling is forgettable as I cannot even pinpoint one moment that jumped out to me in regards to that nomination. “Wonder” and “Darkest Hour” rely heavily on their makeup, so those nominees far overshadow this film with this particular nomination.
Were the costumes memorable? Absolutely. Will they be able to overcome the other four nominees in the category? Probably not. “Phantom Thread” is a period film as well and although it does not have the royal aspect to play with when it comes to its costumes, it is a film entirely about a fashion designer. If the costumes are not the best in that film, you do not buy that Daniel Day Lewis’ character is as good as he is portrayed as being. The plot of “Phantom Thread” relies much heavier on the notion of Costume Design. Yes, “Victoria and Abdul” would be a much different film if the attention to detail in costumes was not pushed to an award worthy level. But it’s how high the film is elevated by the costumes in it, which I deem important. By getting the royal aspect right as well as the period, “Victoria and Abdul” is elevated to the point of simply being a worthwhile period piece. If less attention were to have been placed on the intricacies of the costumes, the story would still carry on and the film would be carried by the achievements of the actors. “Phantom Thread,” however, not only has to reach that baseline of being a period piece, it also has to present costumes that a master fashion designer would have to be making. It has to push the audience into carrying about this man’s craft because he puts everything else on the line (his relationships, his health, etc.) to partake in that craft. So for that, “Phantom Thread” rises above.
I even believe “Beauty and the Beast” to be a better film in terms of Costume Design. It is literally taking a wardrobe from an animated cast and bringing it to life. “Victoria and Abdul” has costumes that existed at one point, in the same way “Darkest Hour” does, whereas “Beauty and the Beast” took those from animation and made them real. As much as the Academy may love Stephen Frears, I believe the nominations for his film are as much of an achievement as he will be receiving this year.
|2006 (79th)||“The Queen”||Nominated||Best Costume Design|
|2016 (89th)||“Florence Foster Jenkins”||Nominated||Best Costume Design|
DANIEL PHILLIPS & LOU SHEPPARD
Makeup & Hairstyling
|Films Left||Days Left|