Greatest Masterpieces of Production Design

I was watching Blade Runner the other day, and it occurred to me that it might be the greatest masterpiece of production design, like, ever. If not, what else?
2001?Barry Lyndon? The Last Emperor? Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Forbidden Planet? One from the Heart? Cleopatra? Intolerance? The Scarlet Empress?*

What are some other masterpieces of production design? Probly too many to reach a consensus on the best . . .

The first thing that jumped into my mind was The Royal Tenenbaums. Sort of the opposite of Blade Runner – instead of creating a messy and believable world, it creates a fussy and clearly fictional world. I know many people find Wes Anderson’s museum-diorama approach irritating, but I love the way his movies look. I’d throw The Darjeeling Limited in there too.

It’s going to be hard to beat Blade Runner, though. It was so convincing that Southern Californians seem resigned to the fact that it will all come true.

Lord of the Rings, Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower, Passage To India

I’ll toss in Brazil. A fantastically detailed “vision of the future” that takes 1948 and fast-forwards various bits of it into 1984.

Without a doubt David Lynch’ Dune.

I kind of liked the design of Time Bandits, Dune, The Dark Crystal, The Cell, Minority Report, The island, Neverending Story, Matrix, City of Lost Children, HGTTG, What Dreams May Come, Cube, Apocalypto, Pan’s Labyrinth, Se7en, Gattaca,

Team America: World Police

The Incredibles

“The Secret Garden” from the 90s is still the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen.

A lot of my favorites have been mentioned already but I wanted to give a shoutout to Catherine Martin, my favorite production designer working in Hollywood today.

Terry Gilliam’s films are almost always visually pleasing. The same goes for Kubrick (2001, Lyndon, etc.), Tarkovsky (Stalker), Lynch (Dune), Jeunet & Caro (La Cité des Enfants Perdus, Delicatessen).

I’ll go dittos for the LOTR movies, and add the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

But I am confused: Is Production Design the same as Art Direction? Is it set design, plus costumes and props that you’re considering? In other words, the whole “look” of the piece?

Perhaps not the greatest, but one has to note H.R. Giger’s work on Alien.

Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet.

Prospero’s Books.

The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover. (Well, maybe not a masterpiece, but it’s certainly eye-candy.)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Does CGI count?)

Restoration, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Sam Neill.

*What a Way to Go!, *starring Shirley Maclaine.

Any of Baz Luhrmann’s films.

You beat me to it. Instead of a white and crome space ship like we are used to. It was dark, some times damp and beat up like a barge.

Because that’s what it was. Just that is it was a ‘Space Barge’.

Yeah, I thought of that one too, after I posted. Definitely up in top…

You know, the first time I thought of this OP, Dune was the second title I thought of. I don’t know how I overlooked it when I finally got around to it.

Easily my favorite costume movie, and Edith Head’s undying masterpiece.

I like the look of Shane. The settlers’ cabin wasn’t all bright and shiny, and what we saw of the town looked realistic, especially the saloon (just a bar, really) connected to the general store. And the muddy street. It all looked nicely primitive, but on the cusp between wildness and civilization.

The farm houses in Field of Dreams and Country were perfect – cluttered kitchen counters, caps and boots by the door, cereal boxes on top of the fridge, etc. The houses in Close Encounters and E.T. looked lived-in too.

If we can include TV, Deadwood and Rome deserve some kudos.

Doctor Zhivago; the filthy trains and frozen abandoned houses are spectacular.

Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast is totally unfuckwithable.

Guy Maddin’s Archangel.

+1 for Brazil