2022 Oscar Predictions: Best Production Design

As is the case with most below-the-line Oscar categories, bigger equals better when it comes to Best Production Design. The more lavish the sets, the more accurate the period detail, the more extravagant the designs, the more likely your film will win an Academy Award. Formerly known as Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, this prize goes to the production designer and set decorator, leaving the poor art directors on the outside looking in; perhaps that accounts for the title change. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2022 Oscar predictions for Best Production Design.)

Like Best Costume Design, this award rarely corresponds with Best Picture. Before “The Shape of Water” prevailed in both categories in 2018, the last to line-up was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2004. Often, the winner of this race hasn’t even been nominated for the top prize, as was the case with “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2006), “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2007), “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2008), “Alice in Wonderland” (2011), and “The Great Gatsby” (2014).

Academy voters love period designs, as seen in recent winners such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2009), “Hugo” (2012), “Lincoln” (2013), “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2015), “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2020) and “Mank.” That rare victory for a contemporary film like “La La Land” (2017) is due to its expressionistic use of color and shape rather than any shift in the taste of voters. Sci-fi and fantasy titles, such as “Avatar” (2010), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2016) and “Black Panther” (2019), also do well here.

UPDATED: January 23, 2022

Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our 2022 Oscar Best Picture predictions.

Leading Contenders (ranked by likelihood of winning)
“Nightmare Alley”
“West Side Story”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“The French Dispatch”

Strong Contenders (alphabetical by title)
“Being the Ricardos”
“The Power of the Dog”

Possible Contenders (alphabetical by title)
“The Last Duel”
“Last Night in Soho”
“Licorice Pizza”
“No Time to Die”

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