Wednesday, January 24, 2007

mainlymovies' Best of '06: Production Design

No, this is the post-millennial angst dome

Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland (Children of Men)

Easily the year’s most ambitiously designed picture, a gobsmackingly detailed panorama of social collapse circa 2029, wowing us on a huge scale with the bombed-out hell of its immigrant zone, but also on a tiny one, with the keepsake minutiae in Michael Caine’s hippie hideout.


Teresa Mastropierro
(
Forty Shades of Blue)

Not the first thing you might single out for celebration in this beautifully acted character piece, but I found the sets — from Torn and Korzun’s chilly, MC Escher-like Memphis pad, to the dilapidated manse where they attend a garden party as the relationship’s crumbling — astonishingly apt and memorably furnished.


James Chinlund
(
The Fountain)

On a severely constricted budget, Chinlund makes the film's cosmic transitions work by keeping things carefully confined and allowing us to house the movie inside its characters' headspace, if we so choose. His mini Mayan civilisation is ten times more evocative than those chintzy edifices in Apocalypto.

Dave McKean and crew (MirrorMask)

The design for this film kicks all known ass, and though there’s a fair bit of animation, the digital effects actually impress less than the surrounding collage of sets, painted backgrounds and bric-a-brac props, not to mention a wonderful half-real circus, and the haunting choice of the grimly palatial Embassy Court in Brighton (now renovated, I gather) as the heroine’s home turf.


Ed Verreaux
(
Monster House)

Responsible — along with the reliably raspy Kathleen Turner — for one of the year’s best characters: The House, which from attic to basement had a marvellously forlorn aspect and vicious, groaning, cackling personality bursting out from under its floorboards.


2 comments:

Nick Davis said...

I missed MirrorMask, but I love these other choices, particulary your exquisite description of the terrific work in Forty Shades of Blue. That film opened in '05 in the States, and it barely missed my lists in a whole lot of categories—this one, cinematography, Rip Torn, Dina Korzun... Watch it alongside Hustle & Flow, and Memphis starts to look like an incredibly interesting and surprising city.

NATHANIEL R said...

good choices of the ones I've seen.

how on earth did the academy go so wrong in their choices this year? argh.