Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Chasing the Gold: Best Production Design Analysis (2020)

The production design race for gold at the 93rd Academy Awards is quite the race, and from this early look at the possible contenders, we can sense a tough competition coming ahead.

In recent years the production design category has been more of the same, and with everything going out of ordinary this year, at least we can expect this category to stick to its roots. This category has never been about subtlety or delicacy; it usually includes more extravagant and excessive nominees.

With that in mind, we can kind of divide the early contenders into four different groups:

  • Period films: it’s no secret that the Academy loves a proper period production design just as much as they love a conventional period costume design, and it seems like 2020 has this group covered with films like Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Ammonite, News of the World, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Rebecca, Judas And the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Emma all scheduled to come out this year. For now, it looks like Mank leads the race in this group with The Personal History of David Copperfield, Ammonite, and News of the World just trailing behind. We’ll have a better idea of the competition intensity when these films come out since Emma is the only film that had the chance to open widely before the pandemic hit.
  • Big productions: this group has also been an Academy favorite over the past few years and will likely continue to show up in this year’s race. It includes films like Dune, Tenet, Mulan, Da 5 Bloods, Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die, and Death on the Nile. From only its first trailer, Dune appears to be another masterful work from Patrice Vermette and will likely earn him his third nomination. Tenet and Mulan are currently competing in this year’s version of Box Office, and the competition might extend to Oscar’s night if both of them can secure a nomination for production design. Da 5 Bloods might have a shot in the race if some of the other contenders seriously underperform while No Time to Die, Wonder Woman 1984, and Death on the Nile are looking more likely contenders as we come closer to their release date.
  • Likely upsets: In a normal Oscar’s year, these films wouldn’t be considered as possible contenders, but if you haven’t noticed, we aren’t in a normal Oscar’s year. So here are the films that could get the nomination ticket to enter this year Oscar’s race: One Night in Miami, Hillbilly Elegy, The Father, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things. All of these films have a chance to get the nomination, albeit a small one but a chance nonetheless. Regina King’s One Night in Miami leads in this section until we see what Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy has to say since not even photos have been seen from the film. 

So, here are the early predictions for production design:

  1. Mank: Production Design by Donald Graham Burt and Set Decoration by Jan Pascale.
  2. Dune: Production Design by Patrice Vermette and Set Decoration by Richard Roberts and Zsuzsanna Sipos.
  3. The Personal History of David Copperfield: Production Design by Cristina Casali and Set Decoration by Charlotte Dirickx.
  4. Ammonite: Production Design by Sarah Finlay and Set Decoration by Sophie Hervieu.
  5. News of the World: Production Design by David Crank and Set Decoration by Elizabeth Keenan.
  6. Mulan: Production Design by Grant Major and Set Decoration by Anne Kuljian.
  7. The Trial of the Chicago 7: Production Design by Shane Valentino and Set Decoration by Andrew Baseman.
  8. One Night in Miami: Production Design by Page Buckner and Set Decoration by Janessa Hitsman.
  9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Production Design by Mark Ricker and Set Decoration by Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton.
  10. Rebecca: Production Design by Sarah Greenwood and Set Decoration by Katie Spencer.

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