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.
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.
James Chinlund (The Fountain)
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.