Categories One-by-One: Production Design

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The Original BJ
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:32 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Unless someone makes a huge deal over a film's individual nominee (Ennio Morricone, Lady Gaga), I doubt most people even know who's behind an achievement. Otherwise, Big Oscar Loser Kevin O'Connell would have won on his 20th losing nomination.


My response to this is going to be along the lines of "maybe, maybe not." I'm sure there are voters who don't know much about individual nominees, particularly below-the-line. But I also think there are plenty who aren't OBLIVIOUS to those things either -- if you're working regularly in movies, you cross paths with a lot of these people, and are often familiar with their resumes. I'm not saying these ever develop into the kind of "Leo MUST win!" narratives we see above-the-line, but I don't see why it couldn't ever be a small factor.

I also think certain professions lend themselves more to awareness of individual names (cinematography and music, especially) compared to others (like sound, where a whole bunch of people are usually responsible for the work on any given movie). That's part of the reason why I never bought into the Kevin O'Connell thing (and in his case, the biggest hindrance was usually that the movies he was nominated for were garbage that never would have won.)

I do think Roger Deakins has enough name value in the industry for sentiment to factor in at some point (not this year), but clearly everyone knew Peter O'Toole was overdue and he still kept losing. I think career consideration even for the most famous comes into play, but as we've seen, it only goes so far.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:09 am

I see a lot of people talk about this person and that person being such a known entity that they're sure to be considered for a career award if nothing.

Unless the Academy has changed balloting, typically, the lower ballot races are listed with the film only, not the nominees. Thus, I don't honestly think very many would even know that Jack Fisk was behind any of the nominees. This could be one of the reasons why Roger Deakins has never won. Unless someone makes a huge deal over a film's individual nominee (Ennio Morricone, Lady Gaga), I doubt most people even know who's behind an achievement. Otherwise, Big Oscar Loser Kevin O'Connell would have won on his 20th losing nomination.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:42 am

This isn't a category that feels WILDLY up in the air -- a few of the candidates seem well out of the race -- but it's also one where I wouldn't be shocked to see the de facto frontrunner upset.

Most people seem to be betting on Mad Max, and it certainly has strong credentials here -- the movie's imaginative visual design was one of its most praised elements, and the wild dystopian vehicles and stark landscapes make the movie's production design perhaps the most eye-catching in the race. But I think it's worth noting that the movie doesn't exactly have knockout sets. That didn't hurt Avatar -- the overall wow of the imagined world was enough to put it over the top. But I remember many betting on Life of Pi for much the same reason, and that lost to something more traditional.

That film was Lincoln, and I think if there's an upset, it's likely to be from the Spielberg film in this race as well. Like the film as a whole, the production design in Bridge of Spies isn't what you'd call innovative...but also like the film, it's pretty sturdy stuff. The movie covers a fairly wide range of locales, from 1950s New York to Cold War-era Berlin, and is handsomely designed throughout -- this category was once called art direction-set decoration, and this movie shows off the "set decoration" part of that title more than any of its competitors. It's also worth noting that more traditionally historical films have often triumphed over fantasy in this category, and even though Mad Max's ten nominations signal clear enthusiasm for the film, it's not as if Bridge of Spies's six mean nothing.

The Revenant seems like it would be a strange choice -- the backdrop for most of the film is Mother Nature, rather than any dazzling sets. And yet, the movie is quite popular with Oscar, it was pretty widely praised for the lived-in authenticity of its historical recreation, and Jack Fisk is something of an unrewarded legend. I guess I could see a scenario in which those elements propelled it to a win. But if Fisk couldn't win for the far more elaborate designs of There Will Be Blood, it seems like The Revenant will just be way too minimalist for this category in the end.

The Martian is certainly a handsome production, from the creation of the Mars landscape to the myriad of space shuttles and transport vehicles. But space-themed movies have tended to be also-rans in this category -- Interstellar, Gravity, and Apollo 13 all lost, and nothing in The Martian is so much more inventive it would stand out above those efforts.

I don't think anyone could seriously fault the period recreation of The Danish Girl -- it's a good-looking movie. But there's not much that's terribly imaginative about the design, and if The King's Speech (which I bet on that year) couldn't prevail with similarly textured interiors and Best Picture heat, I doubt The Danish Girl will have enough steam.

As in so many categories, I would probably have voted for Carol over any of the actual nominees, and I lament that, as with Far From Heaven, it was boxed out here. The movie is such a gorgeous and detailed recreation of time and place -- and a real time and place, not a Hollywood version of that, as in even some of these solid nominees -- I think it clearly merited inclusion.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby CalWilliam » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:56 pm

flipp525 wrote:
CalWilliam wrote:I'm not that confident about Bridge of Spies, and if The King's Speech and Les miserables didn't win this category, neither will The Danish Girl. As for The Martian, it would be deserving.

The production designers of The King's Speech, if you'll recall, famously employed a location for Lionel Logue's (Geoffrey Rush) office/practice space that had formerly been used as a gay porn set with little to no changes from its original use.


Indeed, that's true! Funny fact. Despite of that, I think The King's Speech looked much better than both Les misérables and The Danish Girl. And I agree with Big Magilla and Reza. The most compelling candidate here is Bridge of Spies.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby flipp525 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:27 pm

CalWilliam wrote:I'm not that confident about Bridge of Spies, and if The King's Speech and Les miserables didn't win this category, neither will The Danish Girl. As for The Martian, it would be deserving.

The production designers of The King's Speech, if you'll recall, famously employed a location for Lionel Logue's (Geoffrey Rush) office/practice space that had formerly been used as a gay porn set with little to no changes from its original use.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby CalWilliam » Tue Feb 09, 2016 3:24 pm

Greg wrote:This strikes me as a category where there could have been a lot of problems over the years with uncertainty as to what work on various films was done on location and what was done on set. Does anyone know any examples of this?


In that respect I always think of Lawrence of Arabia as an example of uncertainty concerning on location and sets. It has always surprised me that it won Best Art Direction - Color because of its general lack of built sets. I mean, the main scenes that happen in an enclosure were shot in Sevilla, for instance. Only Aqaba was built, I think. But now the category is called Production Design, and that may include not only sets, but the chosen locations which may lead to a better result in terms of when and where the movie takes place. I think Mad Max will win here too, but The Revenant has a very solid shot as well. I'm not that confident about Bridge of Spies, and if The King's Speech and Les miserables didn't win this category, neither will The Danish Girl. As for The Martian, it would be deserving.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby Greg » Tue Feb 09, 2016 1:41 pm

This strikes me as a category where there could have been a lot of problems over the years with uncertainty as to what work on various films was done on location and what was done on set. Does anyone know any examples of this?
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Feb 09, 2016 1:21 pm

As noted at http://www.cinemasight.com/:

Winner: Bridge of Spies
Runner-up: The Martian

Anything can happen with this category, but the award usually goes to the nominee with the most authentic look for the period in which the film takes place. That should signal a win for either Bridge of Spies or The Danish Girl rather than the largely imagined locales of the other three nominees. Of those, though, The Martian creates a pleasing life on Mars concept never seen in previous films taking place on the Red Planet and would be a good choice. I do think, however, that nostalgia for the 1950s designs of Bridge of Spies will prevail.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Tue Feb 09, 2016 12:18 pm

How did God not get the rightful credit for designing the great outdoors of The Revenant?

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby Reza » Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:43 am

Post-war Berlin is superbly created in Bridge of Spies. I think this is the film that will win the Production Design award along with the one of course, for Mark Rylance ;)

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Categories One-by-One: Production Design

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:24 am

The nominees:

Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant


Art Director's Guild went for The Martian (contemporary), Mad Max (fantasy) and The Revenant (period). I guess it's safe to say the only way The Revenant can win this is if the film sweeps which I doubt it will. The film has very minimal sets: Basically just the church ruins and the frontier village with burnt-out Indian villages in between. Mad Max: Fury Road SEEMS like it's in the same position: The only conventional set is the Citadel but the design of the crazy vehicles which is filled with crazy details of this apocalyptic world is what may win this for them. If the Academy could award Lincoln, I can definitely see them awarding Bridge of Spies as its consolation prize. Although it may split the period vote with The Danish Girl, though I doubt the latter can win. Then there's The Martian, although I think the design work there is a bit too subtle.

I think this will go to Mad Max.


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