It’s an imaginative race for production design, evidenced by the complex global construction of “Dune“, The artisan eclecticism of” The French Dispatch “, the exotic romanticism of” No Time to Die “, the baroque mood of” The Power of the Dog “, the childhood nostalgia of” Belfast “and the black exploits expansive “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and “The Alley of Nightmares”.
Old-world quality inspired by nature permeates Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” (Warner Bros.). Production designer Patrice Vermette oversaw an assortment of large-scale sets at Origo Studios in Budapest. There is the castle of the Atreides family on the oceanic planet Caladan and is distinguished by its Norwegian ambience in marbled hues. The interiors of the desert planet Arrakis have an Egyptian influence with intense browns, ochres and arid reds. The gothic-looking planet Giedi Prime contains dark cavernous interiors, where they also built the steam room of the great and imposing Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Additionally, Vermette, Art Director David Doran, and Concept Artist George Hull created the Ornithoptera: huge winged flying vehicles that resemble dragonflies. Built by London accessory makers BGI, they had a wingspan of 129 feet and they were 75 feet long.
For “The French Dispatch” by Wes Anderson (Searchlight), Oscar-winning decorator Adam Adam Stockhausen (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) designed different visual worlds in color and black and white for this collection of “New Yorker” – inspired stories taking place in a fictional French town. They shot in Angoulême with its unique vertical stack of spaces and bends and small viaduct crossings. They even found an old felt factory which they turned into a miniature workshop. There were over 125 sets and a lot more one-offs and setups than in “Greater Budapest”. Highlights include a series of abstract frescoes painted on prison walls by an insane criminal artist (Benicio del Toro) which were actually created by co-star Tilda Swinton’s actual partner, artist Sandro Kopp . (Stockhausen is also in the running for Steven Spielberg’s remake of the beloved 20th century studio musical ‘West Side Story’, which colorfully reinvents the 1957 New York Division, with iconic reverence and more accurate representation of the Puerto Rican quarter period.)
For Daniel Craig’s swan song as James Bond in “No Time to Die” (MGM / United Artists Releasing), production designer Mark Tildesley paid homage to legendary franchise creator Ken Adam with a huge and exotic setting Underground built into the huge Pinewood’s 007 Stage reservoir. The set serves as the abandoned WWII island base for villainous Safin (Rami Malek), containing Japanese and Russian touches. The island contains a giant silo test factory and an underground factory below. Overall, it conjures up both “Dr. No” and “You Only Live Twice” in terms of size, scope, and form. There is brutalist concrete architecture, long dark hallways, and a circular doorway that leads to the factory.There is also a section with water filled with large shiny light sticks.
The baroque-looking Montana ranch features prominently in Jane Campion’s (Netflix) psychological western about toxic masculinity, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons as ruthless and sensitive brothers , respectively. They have lived in the family home their entire lives, and the dark and oppressive surroundings contribute to the tense atmosphere. Oscar-winning decorator Grant Major (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) oversaw the decor of the house whose geography also contributes to the character’s dynamics, particularly a wide staircase that becomes a perch for Cumberbatch’s cruelty. . In addition, a spartan bedroom with two cots transmits the deep bond between the brothers.
With “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24), starring Denzel Washington and McDormand, Joel Coen embraces the theatricality inherent in Shakespeare’s black and white play with expressionistic imagery. Decorator Stefan Dechant (“Pinocchio”) took inspiration from early 20th century Modernist set designer Edward Gordon Craig’s use of large geometric blocks and emphasized hallways and stairways to evoke the state. nightmarish spirit and emotional barriers between the characters.
Black and white also permeates Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical “Belfast” (Focus), his childhood memory of his childhood in North Belfast during the violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants in 1969. Following the pandemic , they weren’t able to shoot in a real street in Belfast, the production designer Jim Clay (“Death on the Nile”) supervised the construction of an entire street at the end of a runway in a small international airport in England. But it gave Branagh the freedom to create an authentic sense of detail with rolling hills and landscapes above the rooftops in one direction and shipbuilding docks in the other, while also reflecting the excitement of the imagination. of a child from movies and television.
Guillermo del Toro explores different modes of expressionism in his revamp of “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight), the 1940s psychological thriller, with con artist Bradley Cooper teaming up with various women (Toni Collette, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett) in a ruthless journey to achieve the American dream. Decorator Tamara Deverell (“Cabinet of Curiosities”, “Star Trek: Discovery”) has overseen an array of sets that convey the carny underworld of geekshow and the glam artifice of high society.
Candidates listed in alphabetical order. No movie will be considered a favorite until we see it.
“No time to die”
“The French dispatch”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“The Green Knight”
“House of Gucci”
“The last duel”
“Alley of Nightmares”
“The power of the dog”
“West Side Story”
The best of IndieWire