In the last 20 years, no contemporary film has won this category (renamed from Best Art Direction), Last year, "Hugo" won the award which favors period and fantasy films.
This year, two-time nominee Eve Stewart is a strong contender for recreating 18th century Paris in "Les Miserables."
Her strongest rivals are three-time nominees Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer for their combination of theatrical and realistic looks for "Anna Karenina."
Oscar champ Rick Carter ("Avatar") could claim a bookend for his work on "Lincoln," which depicts both battlefields and the nation's capital during the Civil War.
Dan Hennah contended for all three films in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, winning in 2005 for the final installment, "The Return of the King"). He reunites with Peter Jackson for the three "Hobbit" films and is a nominee this year for the first in that series -- "An Unexpected Journey."
Past nominee David Gropman and two-time contender Anna Pinnock are looking for their first win with "Life of Pi."