The Best Costume Dramas on Film

Barbed wit, saucy humor, mindf*ckery galore, and ravishing costuming and production design — we can only be talking about one film: Dangerous Liaisons. James Acheson’s elegantly crafted ensembles won the Best Costume Oscar and were a perfect complement to the film’s seductive games and drawing-room antics.

The 1988 movie hits Blu-ray today, and considering everyone’s revived obsession with all things lavishly costumed — Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, and Downton Abbey to name a few — the timing couldn’t be more perfect. We wanted to focus our lens on the movie world, and highlight other dramas that wrap us up in their elaborate attire and swirling emotions. Head past the break to check out our picks for some of the best costume dramas on film, and share yours below.



Miloš Forman’s anarchic tale of obsession and vengeance, Amadeus, revolves around Viennese court composer Antonio Salieri and his young rival, Mozart. Theodor Pištěk’s costume design won an Oscar, playing to Forman’s Hollywood spectacle meets 18th century sublime aesthetic. The exaggerated costume style suited Tom Hulce’s version of the music maestro, whose childlike demeanor and playful rebellion feels more punk — thanks to Pištěk’s addition of pink hair powder and wildly teased locks — than classical genius. Salieri’s sinister masked costume is a visually dynamic contrast to Mozart’s whimsy.