A couple of nights ago, I was invited to a free Oscar nomination screening of the new biopic, J. Edgar starring Leonardo Dicaprio in the title role. I went into the movie knowing very little about Hoover and even less about why a movie was being made by him, but excited the screening room having laughed, wept, and learned a great deal about the enigmatic creator of the FBI known as J. Edgar Hoover.
The performances by Dicaprio, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer and Dame Judi Dench were absolutely spellbinding offering the eagerness and drive of young adults (except Dench who plays Hoover’s Mother, splendidly!) destined to lead as the film’s start and then growing into wise pillars (aided by lots of aging make-up) within their respective fields.
Amidst the gangsters, mobsters, communist threats and unrequited love between Hoover and Armie Hammer’s character Clyde Tolson (heartbreaking), I couldn’t help but notice a fifth character that kept my attention- the amazing costumes.
The majority of the movie takes place during the roaring 20’s and early 30’s which in my opinion hold some of the richest examples in American fashion history. I especially loved the group scenes- the courtrooms, the horse races, and restaurants because I could see the full spectrum of costume designer, Deborah Hooper’s vision. Hooper painted a marvelous picture of the period using strokes of muted blues, grays, pinks and plums set against the art deco sets and beaming black Ford model T’s that beautifully elevated each scene. These were the days of the primly pressed lady complete with a pair of lace gloves and the perfect cloche and men of 3-piece suits that included a matching pocket square and bowler. It’s no wonder why this past season we saw a return to this magical time of detailed dressing in fashion on the Spring 2012 runways.
If you ask me the Academy has found its Oscar for best picture in J. Edgar and I wouldn’t be surprised if some individual gold guys are handed out too.
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