If cinematography is what makes a film beautiful, art direction is what makes it unique: a strong visual identity can keep a film engaging even when its other facets aren’t up to snuff. One could even suggest that some filmmakers, let’s throw Zack Snyder out there for one, have made their careers from doing precisely that. 300 is a laugh, but would anyone have remembered it even ten minutes after leaving the cinema had it not looked so distinctive, at least at the time?
But it would be disingenuous to define art direction as nothing deeper than aesthetics. In the right hands, a film’s visual style can define themes and mood every bit as effectively as performances, editing or soundtrack. Every one of the films nominated for the Flixist Award for Best Art Direction used the discipline in very different ways: while they are all striking to look at, each uses its art direction to lend substance to its story and weight to its world, giving the audience a subtle entry point into each new cinematic experience.
Follow the jump to discover the winner.
The two films which ended up duking it out in a battle royale for this award could not have been more different. Black Swan evoked the contrasting nature of its protagonist and her ultimate fate by setting single bursts of colour against thematically powerful blacks and whites. Scott Pilgrim on the other hand was all colour, all the time, capturing the essence of Pilgrim’s hipster mindset in an eye-bursting quilt of pop-culture references and in-jokes. Its appreciation and faithful recreation of videogame iconography was no doubt a vital part of its success in edging out Black Swan by a single vote among the Flixist staff, many of whom are avid gamers and Destructoid readers. Whatever you thought of the film itself, and it must be said that Flixist’s reviewers were not overly enthusiastic, surely few can deny that it was one of the most artistically innovative and vibrant films of last year.
- Scott Pilgrim vs The World – 6
- Black Swan – 5
- Inception – 1
- Summer Wars – 1
- Tron Legacy – 1