Many times, Production Design and Costume Design go hand in hand with Oscar wins. Moulin Rouge!, Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mad Max: Fury Road all doubled up here and most recently, 2018’s Black Panther did. While that could happen again this year, it doesn’t seem likely.
Mank has been the clear frontrunner in Production Design from the beginning of critics’ awards season, with 18 wins. Plus, its sewn up all four precursors heading into the Oscars: Art Directors Guild, BAFTA, Critics Choice and the newly formed Set Decorators Society in their first year. The trouble for Mank is that despite being the nomination leader with 10, this is likely going to be its only win. While I had likened Mank‘s year to something like Lincoln or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, both of those 10+ nominated films won an acting award along with production design. You’d have to go to 2007’s Sweeney Todd to find a film whose only win was Production Design but it wasn’t Best Picture-nominated. In fact, you’d have to go all the back to 1978’s Heaven Can Wait to find a Best Picture nominee whose only win was Production Design. Is there a Mank spoiler in the mix somewhere else? Maybe.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Tenet are Mank‘s closest competitors, with Tenet securing two precursor wins and Ma Rainey close to a lock in several other categories. While each might give Mank some chase, this is the best place for voters to give a win to the nomination-leader and also a way for almost every Best Picture nominee to walk away with at least one Oscar.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the Union Station in Los Angeles.
Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions in Production Design.
1. Mank (Netflix) – ADG, BAFTA, BFCA, SDSA
Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) – ADG, BFCA
Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton
3. Tenet (Warner Bros) – ADG, BFCA, SDSA
Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
4. The Father (Sony Pictures Classics) – BAFTA
Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
5. News of the World (Universal Pictures) – ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
[CORRECTION: an update has been made for the last film to be Best Picture-nominated and only win Production Design. It was 1978’s Heaven Can Wait, not 1953’s Julius Caesar]