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The Top 25 Best Production Design Winners So Far

Mank (2020) - Courtesy of Netflix

We’re back at it! Continuing a tradition I’ve been keen on for years, I’m ranking the new crop of Academy Award winners. For nearly all of the Oscar categories, you’ll see me list the top 25 recipients of that prize. Sometimes, our newest winner will appear. Other times, they’ll be relegated to the Honorable Mention category. Who knows, maybe one or two won’t even make the cut? It’s a list series that I’ll do each and every single year, in the weeks after the ceremony concludes. So, while this is a fun way to think about the Oscars in the aftermath of the latest telecast, it’s also a beginning for another column here on the site. Of course, definitely show us your own lists as well, in the comments section below. We’re definitely keen to know what you think!

This week, I’ll be doing the Best Production Design category. Sometimes, this is a field where “best” can mean “most,” but it’s no surefire thing. Flashy contenders do tend to do very well, however, as you’ll see below. Frankly, it’s hard to beat Batman here, as what Anton Furst realized is pretty spectacular. That being said, La La Land and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood did come close. It’s another category where it’s very hard to dislike any of the victorious films. They’re just all great looking movies, plain and simple. How does our most recent winner in Mank fare? You’ll have to see next, but it does come in at a pretty impressive spot. Read on for more…

Here are what I consider to be the 25 best winners of the Best Production Design Oscar, to date:


25. The Great Gatsby (2013)
24. Memoirs of a Geisha
23. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
22. The Godfather: Part II
21. Doctor Zhivago
20. Hugo
19. The Apartment
18. Schindler’s List
17. Avatar
16. Mad Max: Fury Road
15. Moulin Rouge!
14. Lawrence of Arabia
13. Dick Tracy
12. Mank
11. Raiders of the Lost Ark
10. Chicago
9. Barry Lyndon
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7. Black Panther
6. Star Wars
5. Titanic
4. Pan’s Labyrinth
3. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
2. La La Land
1. Batman

Honorable Mention: All That Jazz, The Aviator, Cabaret, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Last Emperor, and The Shape of Water


Stay tuned for another category later on this week or early next week!


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Brian H.
Brian H.
1 year ago

Glad you’re still doing these. I’m obviously still catching up. I’m a golf pro at a golf course so the summers are a little more time consuming. You got it right when you said they did a good job with the winners in this category. I think this might be the category they got it right more than any other actually. I’m more of a less but great is better than more but like everything else it’s very subjective. Also couldn’t agree more with the number 1…it’s a movie going experience at a young age (11) that I’ll never forget and a lot had to do with the unbelievable work of the Production Design. I was fortunate to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Big Screen a few years ago and it made me appreciate it even more than I did which was already a lot so that is my number 2. The rest of my subjective list is below.

1. Batman
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
4. Titanic
5. Sting, The
6. Doctor Zhivago
7. Barry Lyndon
8. La La Land
9. Godfather Part II
10. Great Gatsby, The
11. Lawrence of Arabia
12. Grand Budapest Hotel
13. Shape of Water
14. Chicago
15. Schindlers List
16. Star Wars
17. Black Panther
18. Mank
19. Moulin Rouge!
20. Apartment, The
21. Hugo
22. Gone with the Wind
23. Hustler, The
24. All That Jazz
25. Amadeus
H/M’s: Dick Tracy, Lincoln, On the Waterfront, Pan’s Labyrinth, Streetcar Named Desire, A, To Kill a Mockingbird, West Side Story



Written by Joey Magidson

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