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'
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
- 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)
Tarantino 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.
- 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.
- 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)