Best Of The Best Pictures: Best Production Design

This is where the categories start to get tricky to put together. This is the first category where films 6 through 10 are strong enough to be my category, unfortunately there are 5 films that ultimately come out on top. But first here are some of the films that didn’t quite make it.

25.) On The Waterfront (WON)
24.) Gladiator (nominated)
23.) Unforgiven (nominated)
22.) Schindler’s List (WON)
21.) Cavalcade (WON)
20.) Around The World In 80 Days
19.) A Man For All Seasons
18.) Out Of Africa (WON)
17.) Gigi (WON)
16.) The Sound Of Music (nominated)
15.) Tom Jones (WON)
14.) Casablanca
13.) The Sting (WON)
12.) Rebecca (nominated)
11.) West Side Story (WON)

Some great production design already. Now for the runners up.

10.) Gone With The Wind (nominated)

For 1939, this looked pretty great, and it still holds up today. Some great imagery to wrote home about.

9.) Hamlet (WON)

One word. Shakespeare.

8.) The Lord Of The Rings: The Production Design (WON)

While I think Fellowship Of The Ring has stronger production design, the world of Middle Earth is well realized here.

7.) Shakespeare In Love (WON)

Two words. Shakespeare again.

6.) My Fair Lady (WON)

This one almost made it on. The shabbiness and fanciness of the film’s two different worlds compliment each other perfectly.

Now for the big one. The top five. And just to give you some perspective, all five of these films won the Oscar for Best Production design. Hey, it’s good to know that the Academy has some taste.


amadeus 8

Talk about recreating a bygone era. This is recreating all the best parts of a bygone era. From the sets in Mozart’s operas to the King’s palace to Mozart’s shabby house. I can only imagine the difficult job that the film’s production designer had in front of him, but man, he pulled it off.



This is one of those movies that very well could have been a silent film. I mean, I don’t know if anybody really cares about the story, but the world the film creates is a wonder to the eyes. It’s the final dance sequence that sells the movie, making all of Paris into a simple chalk drawing, that still manages to look beautiful.



For a while, this was my #6. Then when I looked back, I realized how impressive the sets were. Biblical times have never looked so… stunning. It feels like you’re looking at a painting, and not your average painting either. The sets are beautiful, convincing, and massive.



Taking a Dickens novel from page to screen is impressive enough, but the realistic look of both the interiors and especially the exteriors were astonishingly well realized. There’s some brilliant contrast between rich areas and poor areas, and the world that we’re left with feels so real and lived in. I consider myself impressed.



For this movie to work, you have to fully believe that the Titanic you see in the film is the real deal. And no detail was spared. They practically rebuilt the whole ship – but that wasn’t enough. They also had to build sets that could be tilted and/or submerged in water. Now that’s what I call impressive.


7.) Titanic

4.) Amadeus

3.) The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

2.) A Beautiful Mind
2.) Ben-Hur
2.) Forrest Gump
2.) Gone With The Wind
2.) Platoon

1.) All Quiet On The Western Front
1.) An American In Paris
1.) Casablanca
1.) Crash
1.) Gandhi
1.) Gigi
1.) The Godfather
1.) Going My Way
1.) Lawrence Of Arabia
1.) Midnight Cowboy
1.) My Fair Lady
1.) Oliver
1.) Out Of Africa
1.) Rebecca
1.) Shakespeare In Love
1.) Unforgiven

Next Category: Best Cinematography.

2 thoughts on “Best Of The Best Pictures: Best Production Design

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