This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary Best Costume Design predictions for the 2024 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 96th Academy Awards, see our 2024 Oscars predictions hub. 

The State of the Race

It’s now a race for the costume design Oscar between “Barbie,” “Poor Things,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer,” and “Napoleon.” The nominees were also honored with Costume Designer Guild Award nominations (the awards will be held February 21 at Neuehouse Hollywood). 

But it’s a feminist battle between “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) and “Poor Things” (Searchlight), where the costumes help personify their existential journeys. ”Barbie” is the favorite, though, for conveying Mattel’s fashion history and tailoring it to fit story arcs for Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Best Supporting Actor nominee Ryan Gosling). Yet “Poor Things” shouldn’t be counted out for boldly fitting Bella (Best Actress nominee Emma Stone) way ahead of her Victorian time as a free spirit. 

Greta Gerwig’s billion-dollar blockbuster “Barbie” is the epitome of costume design: a fashion statement as well as an expression of character-building for Barbie’s transformation from doll to human. The director reunites with Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (“Little Women,” “Anna Karenina”), who applied an interpretive design based on the history of Barbie costumes from Mattel spanning 60 years. This had the effect of sparking the memories of anyone who’s ever played with Barbies throughout the decades. It kicks off with the “2001: A Space Odyssey”-inspired monolithic opening, which presents Barbie as the first doll that had agency as a feminist statement. Durran started with the doll fashion pack as a reference point for coordinating outfits and accessories. Pink was dominant, but there were other dazzling colors and color combinations. The swimwear was culled from the ’50s and ’60s retro fits inspired by Brigitte Bardot. Chanel, which designed a pink-suited Barbie in the 2000s, was brought in as a collaborator to help with ’80s period styles. 

In “Poor Things,” Yargos Lanthimos’ twisted “Frankenstein” gender-bender, Bella is reanimated with the brain of her unborn child by unconventional scientist Baxter (Willem Dafoe). This results in a strange and surreal transformation from a traumatized woman to a fearless one who upends 19th-century roles and conventions. The costume design of Holly Waddington (“The Great,” “Lady Macbeth”), therefore, is vital in conveying Bela’s emotional state of mind throughout her journey. The aesthetic begins with the proper silhouette but forgoes intricate patterns for a minimalist look befitting Bella. However, Waddington explores the use of latex and plastic in her wardrobe as a futuristic embrace. Bella goes from wearing a white silk cape to dressing herself in very unconventional styles, including flamboyant dresses that evoke a blooming flower and bloomers with jacket and hat and military-looking dresses.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple TV+/Paramount) marks the first opportunity for director Martin Scorsese to work with five-time Oscar-nominated costume designer Jacqueline West. She found that his passion for authenticity paired well with her creative process on this historical drama about the Oklahoma serial murders of Osage Indians in the 1920s to steal their oil-rich territory. West worked with several Osage consultants on wardrobes, particularly Julie O’Keefe, and referenced the book “Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community.” The consultants provided West with clothes, photos, and filmed events from the story’s time period. As a result, she utilized many indigenous fabrics, colors, and styles for certain characters throughout the film. For example, Lily Gladstone’s Mollie Burkhart was dressed more traditionally than her sisters early on and subsequently lost the vibrancy of the colors she wore as she lost family members. 

Christopher Nolan tapped costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (a first-time Oscar nominee) for his “Oppenheimer” (Universal) historical thriller about theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Best Actor nominee Cillian Murphy), and she recreated the iconic look for the “father of the atomic bomb.” Oppenheimer’s silhouette remained constant once he arrived at Berkeley, and his three-piece suits and fedora became his uniform and armor. This was the fashion statement that visually set him apart from the other scientists. By contrast, Mirojnick gave rival Admiral Lewis Strauss’ (Best Supporting Actor nominee Robert Downey Jr.) a dapper look for his black-and-white scenes. Interestingly, this was a reunion for them, as Mirojnick previously dressed Downey as Charlie Chaplin for his “Chaplin” biopic.

Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” (Apple TV+/Sony Pictures) has Oscar-winning costume designer Janty Yates (“Gladiator”) dressing power couple Napoleon Bonaparte (Phoenix) and Empress Joséphine (Vanessa Kirby) as part of the French fashion revolution. Meanwhile, military costume designer David Crossman meticulously handled the Russians, the Prussians, the Austrians, the British, and the huge selection of French regiments along with some Cossacks and Mamelukes. In all, there were 4,000 military costumes.

Nominees are listed below in order of likelihood they will win.


“Barbie” (Jacqueline Durran)
“Poor Things” (Holly Waddington)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Jacqueline West)
“Oppenheimer” (Ellen Mirojnick)
“Napoleon” (Janty Yates and David Crossman)

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