Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

Review Book Club

"While it doesn't seem groundbreaking, I know I will watch it eventually because of the four legends in the cast." - Rebecca

"Adored both Bergen and Keaton (and Garcia!), liked Fonda and unfortunately, thought Steenburgen kind of drew the short straw here. Overall, had a ball!" - Andrew

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 470 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience


What'cha Looking For?
« Amir's Most Anticipated Films of 2013 | Main | Tolkien at 121 »

ADG Nominees: Period, Fantasy, and (Our Favorite) Contemporary

The Guilds Have Spoken! Or rather, they're beginning to speak. We've just heard from the producers and now the art directors. This time AMPAS will cut the guilds off mid-sentence since Oscar nominations are but a week away. But here are the nominations from the Art Directors Guild which includes production designers, art directors and set decorators. Production Designers are the bosses of this field and when it comes to Oscar only the production designers and set decorators and not the art directors share the Oscar nominations which is why it's a bit odd that it's always called "Art Direction" but AMPAS has finally changed the name of the category so it'll now be 'Production Design'

Anna Karenina may be dressed for grief but her bedroom sure is lusty.

Expect that the five nominated films for Oscar will be (mostly) culled from these three groups. And obviously, given that Oscar is Oscar and "Best" =  "Most" the bulk of the eventual Oscar shortlist will come from Period & Fantasy. TFE's favorite thing about the guild awards is that you can see what the craftsmen and women like best in contemporary work... which sadly rarely goes on to Oscar glory despite being difficult and creatively challenging in its own right.

Some notes on their nominees... and their nominee's past filmography glories after the jump

Period Film

  • Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood ... 3 Oscar nominations, two for Joe Wright pictures)
  • Argo (Sharon Seymour ... she's designed all of Ben Affleck's pictures but the period nature of this is an anomaly on her filmography. An anomaly that could he)
  • Django Unchained (J Michael Riva... Oscar nominated for The Color Purple)
  • Les Misérables (Eve Stewart ... 2 Oscar nominations previously interviewed right here)
  • Lincoln (Rick Carter ... won the Oscar for Avatar

RIP J Michael RivaTarantino rescued J. Michael Riva from the clutches of Spider-Man and Iron Man (two superheroes who he's been designing for for the past 7 years and Riva rewarded with the idiosyncratic looks and places of Django Unchained. Sadly Riva passed away this summer during production so should a second nomination come it will be a posthumous one.

This whole field of nominees will be super competitive with Oscar. My current guess is that one of themhas to make way for Life of Pi . We shall see.

Fantasy Film

  • Cloud Atlas (Uli Hanisch & Hugh Bateup)
  • Life of Pi (David Gropman... Oscar nominated for The Cider House Rules)
  • Prometheus (Arthur Max ... Oscar nominated for American Gangster and Gladiator)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (Nathan Crowley & Kevin Kavanaugh ... Crowley has two previous Oscar nominations for Chris Nolan pictures)  
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dan Hennah... previously Oscar nominated for every Lord of the Rings film, winning for Return of the King


Given its probable Best Picture nomination, I'd imagine that Life of Pi will be the one to snag an Oscar nomination. But I'm personally most happy to see Arthur Max's work on Prometheus recognized by the guild. Prometheus hasn't been hunting for nominations as far as I can tell (no screener) but it's worth noting that Oscar HAS recognized the Alien franchise in this category... and twice, too, albeit a long long time ago.  

As for The Hobbit. This is also a strong possibility though I wonder if AMPAS will really want to be like The Emmys. Will Hennah continue to be nominated every time he returns to his Middle Earth? Even Stuart Craig wasn't nominated for every Harry Potter picture... just half of them. 

Contemporary Film

the great Dennis Gassner on the set of Skyfall 

  • Flight (Nelson Coate... Emmy nominee for The Stand)
  • Skyfall (Dennis Gassner... a god among production designers)
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Alan MacDonald... designed Chéri and The Queen recently) 
  • The Impossible (Eugenio Caballero... Oscar winner for Pan's Labyrinth)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (Jeremy Hindle... his first lead assignment for a feature!)

Normally I'd imagine that Zero Dark Thirty and The Impossible would have the best longshot leap opportunity to the Oscar shortlist given their topics and specific challenges but I wonder about Dennis Gassner. Skyfall in Skyfall is kind of an Art Direction spotlight and this globe-spanning and very handsome looking film could rack up the most Oscar Nominations (all they'd need is 4) for any 007 film ever if AMPAS is feeling the 50th anniversary mania. Gassner has designed many of the Coen Bros features and other highlights include The Golden Compass, Big Fish and his statue-winning quite-awesome work on Bugsy (1991)


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (13)

I have a hunch that Skyfall will be nominated for Production Design ever since I saw it in november.
It's amazingly designed, by an Academy favorite - as you say, a God among production designers - and mostly (in my eyes): production design and cinematography usually go hand to hand and I think all the attention Roger Deakins got from his amazing cinematography in Skyfall also shines a light in Gassner's work.
The cinematography is the same reason I think "Life of Pi" will get a nomination here.

Prediction: Anna Karenina, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Life of Pi and Skyfall.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictor S

This is the guild every season I'm most excited for, the ADG is very underrated in terms of Oscar prediction, they even predicted Crash over Brokeback Mountain.

The real deal is PGA, DGA, SAG, ACE & ADG: usually only one film or two receive all 5 mentions, for example this year only Argo, Lincoln and Les Miserables could do it unless one of them miss DGA or ACE

This is a list of films that received nominations for that 5 guilds since ADG exists:

The Artist *
The Descendants

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech *
The Social Network

The Hurt Locker *

Slumdog Millionaire *
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

No Country for Old Men *

2006 – ADG award is divided in Period, Contemporary and Fantasy
The Departed *

Crash *

Million Dollar Baby *
The Aviator

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King *

Chicago *
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2000 – ADG award is divided in Contemporary & Period or Fantasy

American Beauty

Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love *

L.A. Confidential
Titanic *

The English Patient *

The only anomaly was 2001, A Beautiful Mind only missed the ADG nomination, then you may think the ADG is irrelevant but Brokeback Mountain and other several movies were in the same position and didn’t win so to me 2001 is still a Weinstein anomaly.

Moulin Rouge!, Seabiscuit, Mystic River, Finding Neverland & Good Night, and Good Luck also receive this 5 nominations but then didn’t receive director or editing nominations at the oscars so they were out of the game anyway.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChecko

Victor -- it is difficult to see any of those missing but it's also easy to see a posthumous nod happening for J Michael Riva. And I do wonder about The Hobbit. They'd be breaking tradition to snub it. Not that I'm against breaking tradition since otherwise the Oscars become the Emmys and the "regulars" start hogging slots.

Checko -- I personally think the stats of directing and editing can't win are overemphasized because in both cases films have. Not often, true, but I bet it was close in 2005. 2001 is the true grossness though. It's still just disgusting that in THAT best picture lineup with 4 totally worthy WINNERS they chose the 1 of the 5 that shouldn't have even been nominated. what a world what a world

January 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I L O V E the production design of The Impossible. Everything looks so damn real, like real footage. It's not easy to create that amount of chaos, I think.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I can't over the fact that they didn't nominate 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' for contemporary

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Always wonder what's the difference between a Production Designer, Set Decorator & Art Director. Are they usually 3 different individual? What tasks do each one of them undertake?

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Conrado -- i know. it's a pretty terrible snub.but my worry about Beasts all along has been that it's too "outsidery" for Oscar which is a very insidery game.

January 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Regarding "Beasts of the Southern Piece of Crap" -- it's possible they considered it a fantasy (which it is) and the competition was too tough. (Besides, it doesn't deserve ANY awards, except Razzies, but that's a whole 'nother discussion.)

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Ew: Life of Pi getting a Oscar nomination for production design? Really? The only set that I remember from that was the boat.

Take this Waltz has beautiful art direction, too. The stained glass and glass bottles in the kitchen!

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Dark Shadows ha the most amazing sets!

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterItalian88

where the hell is moonrise kingdom?

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Evan: Art direction isn't only about sets. That's a rather analogue way of looking at things.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

Yes, Guy, but at what point does a film cross the line with CGI and visual effects work? Brave has a beautiful rendering of the Scottish highlands, but these guilds don't seem willing to recognize that sort of work.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>