In some years, I have trouble determining who will win in the Best Production Design category. There are so many different ways to design a film’s story-world, that I can get bogged down in the minutiae and get confused as to what the voters will actually like.
But this year I am much more confident. Who knows, maybe I’m getting better at this unnecessary skill of Oscar predictions.
- The Irishman
- Jojo Rabbit
- Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Will Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Could Win: Parasite
Dark Horse: 1917
For each of the above three choices, there are different reasons why the film could win in this category. The standout choice is Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood because of Quentin Tarantino’s fully immersive vision of 1969 Los Angeles. The streets, the studio backlots, Spahn Ranch. All of these places have intricate and individualized set design. Not to mention that most of the members of the Academy are based in Hollywood, so Once Upon a Time‘s dedication to showing landmarks of 1960s Hollywood could woo the voters all the more.
1917 has an outside chance here, given how the production design is integral to the entire pre-visualization of the film. The set design is built around the elaborate camera movements and hidden edits of the pre-production. In some scenes, the production design appears like vast expanses of nothing save for foxholes and barbed wire. But even these elements are carefully placed.
Then there’s Parasite, where the intricate modern home in which most of the action takes place was designed by Lee Ha Jun. He isn’t an architect, but his design of this set is certainly convincing. It is a beautiful set which appears like an actual house. Without this lush home, the comparisons of class would not be nearly as potent. Comparing the set design of the aforementioned house with the Kim basement abode, as well as comparing the main level of the house with its industrial basement, is key to the success of the film. Parasite should win Best Production Design. But there is something about the La La Land of Tarantino’s film which will likely charm the Academy more.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)