Oscar Handicap 2018: Production Design

Our Oscar Handicap series for the 2018 Academy Awards continues with the nominees for Best Production Design.

In many ways, the Production Designer is the true architect of a film. The writer might create the characters and situations, and the director might have a vision for how the production should look, but it’s the PD who creates the drawings and sketches that help make those visions in to something tangible and real. The physical look of Star Wars was as much, if not more, due to artists like Ralph McQuarrie and John Barry than to George Lucas. Owen Paterson deserves as much credit for the look of The Matrix as do the Wachowskis. JK Rowling may have created Hogwarts and brought it to life on the page, but it was Stuart Craig who made it real for viewers. Someone had to design the look of Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure, and it sure in the hell wasn’t Matthew Diamond or Chazz Palminteri.

Good production design sets the best films apart from the crowd, and great production design can often mask the flaws of a film that leaves many other things to be desired. (Imagine how much more tolerable Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure would be if it didn’t look like its production design budget was $50 and a case of beer? Or, better yet, let’s forget about  Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure altogether. You probably don’t even know what it is. Lucky you. Seriously. Lucky you.)

But enough of my yapping, let’s get to the numbers…

The Breakdowns

1) As long as your film was not the lowest grosser amongst these nominees at the time of the nomination announcements, you’ve won here 35 of the last 39 years (89.7%). Advantage: Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk
2) If your film is not predominately set in the present day, you’ve won here 34 of 39 (87.2%). Advantage: all nominated films
3) If you also received a nomination for the same category at the BAFTAs, you’ve won here 33 of 39 (84.6%). Advantage: all films nominated
4) If your film is also a nominee for Best Cinematography, you’ve won here 31 of 39 (79.5%). Advantage: Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water
5) If your film is also a nominee for Best Picture, you’ve won here 28 of 39 (71.8%). Advantage: Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water
6) If your film is also a nominee for Best Director, you’ve won here 27 of 39 (69.2%). Advantage: Dunkirk, The Shape of Water
7) If you won one of the Art Directors Guild Awards for the same film, you’ve won 14 of the 21 Academy Awards handed out since the ADG started giving out their own awards (66.7%). Advantage: Beauty and the Beast, The Shape of Water
8) As long as you, the Production Designer, are not a first time nominee in this category, you’ve won here 22 of 39 (56.4%). Advantage: Beauty and the Beast, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk
9) As long as you, the Set Decorator, are a first time nominee in this category, you’ve won here 21 of 39 (53.8%). Advantage: Blade Runner 2049, The Shape of Water

By the Numbers…

This is one of the strongest categories this year, and any of these would be a worthy winner. The numbers go with Christopher Nolan’s war drama.

Beauty and the Beast (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood, Set Decoration: Katie Spencer): +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7, +8, -9 (187 of 333, 56.16%)
Blade Runner 2049 (Production Design: Dennis Gassner, Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola): +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -6, -7, -8, +9 (201 of 333, 60.36%)
Darkest Hour (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood, Set Decoration: Katie Spencer): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, +8, -9 (220 of 333, 66.07%)
Dunkirk (Production Design: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, +8, -9 (235 of 333, 70.57%)
The Shape of Water (Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry, Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin): -1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, -8, +9 (209 of 333, 62.76%)

Thank you for taking the time to check us out.

All articles in this series:

Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature
Best Production Design
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Score
Best Sound Effects and Best Sound Mixing
Best Documentary Feature
Best Visual Effects

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