Mad Max: Fury Road, The Danish Girl and Beasts of No Nation took the film prizes at the 18th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards, which were handed out tonight at the Beverly Hilton. Mad Max, which won for Excellence in Fantasy Film, and Danish Girl (Period Film) are among the Costume Design Oscar nominees this year.
Scoring the CDG nod certainly is no sure thing at the Academy Awards, though. The guild’s film winners only have struck Oscar gold in eight of the CDG Awards’ 16 years — Year 1 recognized only career achievements — and that’s with two or three top categories. Last year, however, The Grand Budapest Hotel won for Excellence in Period Film and picked up the Academy Award days later.
Beasts of No Nation won for Contemporary Film. A complete list of tonight’s winners is below.
“When we’re talking of diversity, I think I we represented every tribe that existed in Namibia and they did the most amazing work,” said Mad Max costume designer Jenny Beavan. She thanked director George Miller, “who took me, a bonnets and corsets girl. But then, he’s a penguins boy himself.”
Among the also-rans for the CDG’s film honors this year were box office juggernauts Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Martian, along with multiple Oscar nominees Carol and Brooklyn. The only film up for the Costume Design Oscar that didn’t make the cut for a CDG nom is The Revenant.
On the TV side, the prizes went to FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel (contemporary), Cinemax’s The Knick (period) and HBO’s Game of Thrones (fantasy). “This is the first time fantasy is being honored with its own category,” presenter Constance Zimmer said. “We’re excited for the nerds.” Accepting her award for AHS: Hotel, designer Lou Eyrich said, “I almost didn’t come because I couldn’t find anything to wear.”
Mindy Kaling was among the presenters tonight. “I’m honored to be accepting the fashion icon award,” she said. “Oh, I’m getting a text. OK, Cate Blanchett is getting that award. I’m being honored with the Pillsbury A0ward for best muffin top.”
Blanchett, who starred in this year’s CDG Award nominees Carol and Cinderella, was on hand to accept her Lacoste Spotlight Award. The guild honored the two-time Oscar winner “for her unparalleled talent as much as for her status within the costume design community.” Sandy Powell, the costume designer on Carol and Cinderella, presented the award. “With Cate, the costume becomes a tool,” she said. “I can confidently say she’s a costume designer’s dream. She has an understanding of clothes as character.”
Blanchett said: “Everyone talks about their relationship with the other actors and the director, and of course those are important. But in the end, it’s in those costume fittings — those silent moments away from the rush, where you make manifest the psychological things you talk about in the rehearsal room. It’s the building blocks of a character.”
Quentin Tarantino received the costume designers’ Distinguished Collaborator Award tonight. His Hateful Eight stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell presented the trophy. “When a film says ‘QT,’ you know it’s going to deliver a left hook to Hollywood’s glass jaw,” Leigh said. “‘Distinguished’ seems a bit of a square word for Tarantino.” Added Russell, “He’s at every principal fitting, and he brings the whole team together, insisting everyone reads the script.”
Said the filmmaker: “I’ve always taken costumes very seriously. It’s why I made such a big deal of the black suits in Reservoir Dogs. Every guy looks better in a black suit.” Added Tarantino, whose Kill Bill films both earned CDG Award noms, “None of my designers has ever been nominated for an Oscar because I guess I don’t do period movies with ball scenes.”
This year’s Career Achievement Award went to Ellen Mirojnick, whose costumes for HBO’s telepic Behind the Candelabra won the CDG Award and an Emmy. Sharon Stone provided a good laugh via video: “I have the best story because I’m the only one that had Ellen kidnapped,” she said. “The Fed Ex truck ran over my Oscar dress, and I knew Ellen was the only one who could help. I asked my driver to kidnap her, and she said, ‘It’s OK, I can handle it.” Also via video, Michael Douglas said: “We’ve done 15 films together. The questions she asks about the character I’m playing go well beyond the clothes.”
Mirojnick, who also won an award tonight for costuming The Knick, drew a standing ovation as she took the stage. “This has been the most amazing evening in my entire life,” she began. “I love sparkles more than anything else in the world, and I fall in love with my job no matter the challenge or the deadline. … Being a designer has given me endless joy.”
Her credits date to 1978 and include Wall Street, Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Cloverfield and last year’s By the Sea. “
Master dyer Edwina Pellikka received the guild’s Distinguished Service Award. “I have loved playing with color my entire life and at the age of 6 decided I wanted to be an artist,” she said. “I say if I’ve done my job well, you never know I’ve been there.”
The evening was hosted by Breaking Bad alum Betsy Brandt, who worked her former series into the opening. “What do you wear when your husband has been shot in the New Mexico desert by some thugs Bryan Cranston has been hanging out with?” she asked the room filled with costume designers. Later she added, “I have one request of designers: I beg of you, no more purple, please. If you go to Albuquerque, don’t bother looking for purple. We cleaned it out.”
During his remarks, Costume Designers Guild president Salvador Perez referred to the Stephen Fry dust-up at the BAFTA Awards this month. “We’ve had fittings and costumed extras today, so please forgive us if some of us are rocking a ‘bag lady chic’ tonight,” he joked.
Here is the complete list of winners at tonight’s CDG Awards:
Excellence in Fantasy Film
Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan
Excellence in Period Film
The Danish Girl, Paco Delgado
Excellence in Contemporary Film
Beasts of No Nation, Jenny Eagan
Excellence in Short Form Design
Most Interesting Man in the World Wins on Land, Sea & Air, Dos Equis Commercial, Julie Vogel
Outstanding Fantasy Television Series
Game of Thrones, Michele Clapton
Outstanding Period Television Series
The Knick, Ellen Mirojnick
Outstanding Contemporary Television Series
American Horror Story: Hotel, Lou Eyrich