1. Cleopatra (1963)
What it beat for Best Production Design:
The Cardinal, Come Blow You Horn, How the West Was Won, Tom Jones
John DeCuir, Jack Martin Smith, Hilyard Brown, Herman Blumenthal, Elven Webb, Maurice Pelling, Boris Juraga
Walter M. Scott, Paul S. Fox, Ray Moyer
Fun fact: Elizabeth Taylor’s 65 gorgeous costumes won her a Guinness World Record title for “Most costume changes in a film.”
2. My Fair Lady (1964)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Becket, Mary Poppins, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, What a Way to Go!
Art directors: Gene Allen, Cecil Beaton
Set decorator: George James Hopkins
Fun fact: The production designers weren’t given a budget; they were able to design without worrying about cost. At $17 million, My Fair Lady was the most costly picture ever made by Warner Bros. up to that time.
3. Hello, Dolly! (1969)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Anne of the Thousand Days; Gaily, Gaily; Sweet Charity; They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Art directors: John Decuir, Jack Martin Smith, Herman Blumenthal
Set decorators: Walter M. Scott, George Hopkins, Raphael Bretton
Fun fact: Rather than shooting entirely on sound stages, 65% of the film was shot outdoors and only one day was lost to inclement weather.
4. Cabaret (1972)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Lady Sings the Blues, The Poseidon Adventure, Travels with My Aunt, Young Winston
Art director: Rolf Zehetbauer, Jurgen Kiebach
Set decorator: Herbert Strabel
Fun fact: There is a shot early in the film of a woman sitting at the Kit Kat Club that was designed as a nod to the painting “Portrait of Journalist, Sylvia Von Harden” by Otto Dix.
5. Barry Lyndon (1975)
What it beat for Best Production Design: The Hindenburg, The Man Who Would Be King, Shampoo, The Sunshine Boys
Art directors: Ken Adam, Roy Walker
Set decorator: Vernon Dixon
Fun fact: Director Stanley Kubrick hoped to evoke the look of 18th-century paintings, specifically the works of Antoine Watteau and Thomas Gainsborough.
6. Star Wars (1977)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Airport ‘77, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Turning Point
Art directors: John Barry, Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley
Set decorator: Roger Christian
Fun fact: George Lucas and crew would “dirty up” props and sets in order to give the film a lived-in look.
7. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
What it beat for Best Production Design: The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Heaven’s Gate, Ragtime, Reds
Art directors: Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley
Set decorators: Michael D. Ford
Fun fact: The classic dip at the front of Indy’s fedora was specially created to help hide the faces of Harrison Ford’s stunt doubles.
8. Amadeus (1984)
What it beat for Best Production Design: The Cotton Club, The Natural, A Passage to India, 2010
Art directors: Patrizia von Brandenstein
Set decorator: Karel Cerný
Fun fact: The sets and costumes for Mozart’s operas in the film were based on sketches and designs from their original stage productions.
9. Batman (1989)
What it beat for Best Production Design: The Abyss, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Driving Miss Daisy, Glory
Art director: Anton Furst
Set decorator: Peter Young
Fun fact: Furst and the art department sought to create a chaotic look for Gotham City with clashing architectural styles. They took inspiration from Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil, which had lost for Best Production Design to Out of Africa in 1985.
10. Schindler’s List (1993)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Addams Family Values, The Age of Innocence, Orlando, The Remains of the Day
Art director: Allan Starski
Set decorator: Ewa Braun
Fun fact: Spielberg on his decision to shoot the film in black and white:
“The Holocaust was life without light. For me the symbol of life is color. That’s why a film about the Holocaust has to be in black and white.”
11. Titanic (1997)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Gattaca, Kundun, L.A. Confidential, Men in Black
Art director: Peter Lamont
Set decorators: Michael D. Ford
Fun fact: The interior rooms were meticulously reproduced based on photographs, as was most of the furniture, carpets, and even the cutlery.
12. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Elizabeth, Pleasantville, Saving Private Ryan, What Dreams May Come
Art director: Martin Childs
Set decorator: Jill Quertier
Fun fact: The full-size replica set of the Rose Theatre created for the film was later given as a gift to Dame Judi Dench. She donated the set to the touring British Shakespeare Company in 2009.
13. Moulin Rouge (2001)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Amélie, Gosford Park, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Art directors: Catherine Martin
Set decorator: Brigitte Broch
Fun fact: Director Baz Luhrmann, and wife Catherine Martin, have often said the style of the film was meant to express the same thrill for modern audiences that crowds experienced at the Moulin Rouge in 1899.
14. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Last Samurai, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Seabiscuit
Art directors: Grant Major
Set decorators: Dan Hennah, Alan Lee
Fun fact: In keeping with J.R.R. Tolkien’s respect for nature, the art department made molds from real trees and rocks found on location.
15. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
What it beat for Best Production Design: American Gangster, Atonement, The Golden Compass, There Will Be Blood
Art directors: Dante Ferretti
Set decorators: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Fun fact: Tim Burton insisted on the film being bloody rather than stage versions that had downplayed the gore. There was so much fake blood used in production that crew members wore garbage bags to protect their clothes on set.
16. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
What it beat for Best Production Design: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Inception, The King’s Speech, True Grit
Art directors: Robert Stromberg
Set decorators: Karen O’Hara
Fun fact: Owing to 90% of the film being shot on green screen, Tim Burton had lavender lenses fitted into his glasses to counteract the effects of nausea from the long hours on set.
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