Art Departmental’s Best Production Design of 2016

With congratulations to all, our creator and editor chooses favourites for best production design for feature films released in 2016.

Another awards season is here and 2016 was another great year for cinema. Below I’ve chosen my top ten picks for best production design of any film released in 2016 that I have personally seen. I’ve taken into account the story, characters, genre, tone, direction, originality, technical difficulty, budget size and size of team, in addition to the principles of design. Despite this, it’s still of course, very subjective. My personal taste might largely differ from yours so please take it for what it is, with a healthy grain of salt.

Congratulations to all involved in every production and keep striving to do great work everyday. It’s worth it.


10) ROGUE ONE

Logline: The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Director: Gareth Edwards

Production Designer: Doug Chiang & Neil Lamont

Supervising Art Director: Alastair Bullock

Set Decorator: Lee Sandales

Total Budget: $200MM


9) THE HANDMAIDEN

Logline: A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

Director: Chan-wook Park

Production Designer: Seong-hie Ryu

Total Budget: $8.9MM


8) CAFÉ SOCIETY

Logline: In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.

Director: Woody Allen

Production Designer: Santo Loquasto

Art Directors: Michael E. Goldman (Los Angeles) & Doug Huszti (New York)

Set Decorator: Nancy Haigh (Los Angeles) & Regina Graves (New York)

Total Budget: $30MM


7) HIDDEN FIGURES

Logline: The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Director: Theodore Melfi

Production Designer: Wynn Thomas

Art Director: Jeremy Woolsey

Set Decorator: Missy Parker

Total Budget: 25MM


6) DOCTOR STRANGE

Logline: While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Director: Scott Derrickson

Production Designer: Charles Wood

Supervising Art Director: Ray Chan

Set Decorator: John Bush

Total Budget: 165MM


5) CHRISTINE

Logline: The story of Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter struggling with depression and professional frustrations as she tries to advance her career.

Director: Antonio Campos

Production Designer: Scott Kuzio

Art Director: Molly Bailey

Set Decorator: Jess Royal

Total Budget: N/A


4) HAIL, CAESAR!

Logline: A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line.

Director: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

Production Designer: Jess Gonchor

Supervising Art Director: Dawn Swiderski

Set Decorator: Nancy Haigh

Total Budget: 22MM


3) NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Logline: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

Director: Tom Ford

Production Designer: Shane Valentino

Art Director: Christopher Brown

Set Decorator: Meg Everist

Total Budget: 22MM


2) PASSENGERS

Logline: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

Director: Morten Tyldum

Production Designer: Guy Hendrix Dyas

Supervising Art Director: David Lazan

Set Decorator: Gene Serdena

Total Budget: 110MM


1) ARRIVAL

Logline: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Production Designer: Patrice Vermette

Supervising Art Director: Isabelle Guay

Set Decorator: Paul Hotte

Total Budget: 47MM


Honourable Mentions: MOONLIGHT, JACKIETHE WITCH


Which films were your picks for best production design? As usual, I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.

Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental


You can also check out our picks for Best Production Design of 2015, here.

Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

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