The Best Costume Design Academy Award is given out to films that represent the greatest achievement in conceptualizing, designing and then creating film costumes. (Costume designers must have conceived of the designs themselves in order to be considered eligible.) The award is often seen as singling out period films, or other movies with elaborate, fanciful clothing or obviously "other-worldly" visuals. Since 1967, only a handful of films set in "contemporary" times have won the award. However, each year, there are typically a few nominated films that are singled out for their attention to detail or creativity rather than just the scope of the costume department's efforts. The 2012 Costume Design nominees were announced on January 24, 2012.
The Best Costume Design Oscar was first presented at the 21st Academy Awards ceremony on March 24, 1949. At that time, two winners were selected - one for black-and-white filmmaking and the other for color. The first winners were Roger K. Furse for "Hamlet" (in the black-and-white category) and Dorothy Jenkins and Barbara Karinska for "Joan of Arc" (in the color category.) In 1957, the two categories were merged and Orry-Kelly won the very first overall "Best Costume Design" Oscar for her work in "Les Girls." From 1959 to 1967, the categories were again split for black-and-white and color until being merged permanently.
The legendary Edith Head is the winningest costume designer in the history of the category. She was nominated in the Best Costume Design category a staggering 38 awards and won a record-shattering 8 times. (Sandy Powell, Colleen Atwood and James Acheson are tied for second place, with 3 Academy Awards each.) Head's last win came in 1973 for "The Sting," and she was last nominated in 1977 for her work on "Airport '77." (The Oscar that year went to John Mollo for "Star Wars.")The 2010 Costume Design Oscar went to Colleen Atwood (her third win) for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." Early favorites for 2011 include the period pieces "The Help," "Hugo," "The Artist" and "Jane Eyre."
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