Oscars Predictions: Best Production Design – Nathan Crowley Hopes ‘Tenet’ Brings Him His Sixth Nomination

Clayton Davis
·10-min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

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2021 OSCARS PREDICTIONS:
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

UPDATED: Dec. 27, 2020

AWARDS COMMENTARY:
The Oscars tend to love old Hollywood and “Mank” has emerged as one of the top contenders thus far. “The Personal History of David Copperfield” will surely get the attention of the British voting bloc of the Academy. An interesting observation is there are only three previous winners in the top 20, which shows many first time artists likely to be recognized. Production designer Nathan Crowley is the most nominated in contention this year for “Tenet” and looks to move towards his first trophy. Four of his previous nominations have come from teaming up with Christopher Nolan (“The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight,” “Interstellar” and “Dunkirk”). Could he do it one more time?

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. "Mank" (Netflix)
    Donald Graham Burt (production designer), Jan Pascale (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Burt - 1 nomination, 1 win (2008's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button")
    Pascale - 1 nomination (2005's "Good Night, and Good Luck.")


    DIRECTOR: David Fincher
    SYNOPSIS: 1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
    STARRING: Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Joseph Cross, Charles Dance, Monika Gossman, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Amanda Seyfried, Sam Troughton

  2. "The Personal History of David Copperfield" (Searchlight Pictures)
    Cristina Casali (production designer), Charlotte Dirickx (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Casali - Never nominated
    Dirickx - 1 nomination (2014's "Mr. Turner")


    DIRECTOR: Armando Iannucci
    SYNOPSIS: A modern take on Charles Dickens's classic tale of a young orphan who is able to triumph over many obstacles.
    STARRING: Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie

  3. "The Midnight Sky" (Netflix)
    Jim Bissell (production designer), John Bush (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Bissell - 1 nomination (2005's "Good Night, and Good Luck.")
    Bush - 1 nomination (1999's "Topsy Turvy")


    DIRECTOR: George Clooney
    SYNOPSIS: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
    STARRING: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Tiffany Boone, Caoilinn Springall

  4. "One Night in Miami" (Amazon Studios)
    Page Buckner (production designer), Janessa Hitsman (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Regina King
    SYNOPSIS: A fictional account of one incredible night in 1964, where four icons of activism, sports and music – Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke – gathered, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the ’60s.
    STARRING: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joaquina Kalukango, Nicolette Robinson

  5. "News of the World" (Universal Pictures)
    David Crank (production designer), Elizabeth Keenan (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
    SYNOPSIS: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
    STARRING: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Michael Angelo Covino, Ray McKinnon

NEXT IN LINE:

  1. "The Prom" (Netflix)
    Jamie Walker McCall (production designer), Gene Serdena (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Walker McCall - Never nominated
    Serdena - 2 nominations (2016's "Passengers" and 2013's "Her")
    -
    DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy
    SYNOPSIS: A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.
    STARRING: Meryl Streep, Jo Ellen Pellman, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Ariana DeBose, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells. Tracey Ullman

  2. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)
    Mark Ricker (production designer), Karen O'Hara and Diana Stoughton (set decorators)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Ricker - Never nominated
    O'Hara - 2 nominations, 1 win (2010's "Alice in Wonderland")
    Stoughton - Never nominated
    -
    DIRECTOR: George C. Wolfe
    SYNOPSIS: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play.
    STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Dusan Brown, Jonny Coyne, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, Michael Potts, Jeremy Shamos, Glynn Turman

  3. "Emma." (Focus Features)
    Kave Quinn (production designer), Stella Fox (set decorations)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Autumn de Wilde
    SYNOPSIS: In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.
    STARRING: Anya Taylor-Joy, Callum Turner, Mia Goth, Josh O'Connor, Johnny Flynn, Tanya Reynolds, Bill Nighy

  4. "Tenet" (Warner Bros.)
    Nathan Crowley (production designer), Kathy Lucas (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Crowley - 5 nominations (most recent for 2018's "First Man")
    Lucas - 1 nomination (2018's "First Man")


    DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
    SYNOPSIS: Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
    STARRING: John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh

  5. "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Peter Francis, (production designer), Cathy Featherstone (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

ALSO IN CONTENTION:

  1. "Ammonite" (Neon)
    Sarah Finlay (production designer), Sophie Hervieu (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Francis Lee
    SYNOPSIS: 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
    STARRING: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Shaw, Gemma Jones, James McArdle

  2. "Mulan" (Disney Plus)
    Grant Major (production designer), Anne Kuljian (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Major - 4 nominations, 1 win (2004's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King")


    DIRECTOR: Niki Caro
    SYNOPSIS: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.
    STARRING: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Tzi Ma, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Yosan An, Rosalind Chao

  3. "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" (Hulu)
    Daniel T. Dorrance (production designer), Pascale Deschênes (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
    SYNOPSIS: Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.
    STARRING: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Tyler James Williams

  4. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)
    Shane Valentino (production designer), Andrew Baseman (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin
    SYNOPSIS: The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
    STARRING: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong

  5. "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.)
    Sam Lisenco (production designer), Rebecca Brown (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Shaka King
    SYNOPSIS: The story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O'Neal.
    STARRING: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen, Dominique Thorne, Algee Smith, Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler

  6. "First Cow" (A24)
    Anthony Gasparro (production designer), Vanessa Knoll (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt
    SYNOPSIS: A skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune. Soon the two collaborate on a successful business.
    STARRING: John Magaro, Orion Lee

  7. "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey" (Netflix)
    Gavin Bocquet (production designer), Rob Cameron (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: David E. Talbert
    SYNOPSIS: Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when his trusted apprentice steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter — and a long-forgotten invention — to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within.
    STARRING: Forest Whitaker, Madelen Mills, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville, Ricky Martin, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose

  8. "Greyhound" (Apple TV Plus)
    David Crank (production designer), Leonard R. Spears (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Aaron Schneider
    SYNOPSIS: Several months after the U.S. entry into World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy commander must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by a German submarine wolf pack.
    STARRING:Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, Stephen Graham, Matt Helm, Rob Morgan, Travis Quentin

  9. "Radioactive" (Amazon Studios)
    Michael Carlin (production designer), Robert Wischhusen-Hayes (set decorator)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    Carlin - 1 nomination (2008's "The Duchess")
    Wischhusen-Hayes - Never nominated


    DIRECTOR: Marjane Satrapi
    SYNOPSIS: It tells the true story of Marie Curie and her Nobel Prize-winning work that changed the world.
    STARRING: Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Katherine Parkinson, Sian Brooke, Aneurin Barnard, Simon Russell Beale, Anya Taylor-Joy

  10. "The World to Come" (Bleecker Street)
    Jean-Vincent Puzos (production designer)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Mona Fastvold
    SYNOPSIS: Abigail is a grieving wife whose life changes with the arrival of a new neighbor, Tallie. As the two women fall in love against the backdrop of the 19th century Northeast, their connection intensifies, inciting jealousy from their husbands.
    STARRING: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck, Christopher Abbott

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each.

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)

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