From 'Dune' to 'Lord of the Rings': 10 Oscar-winning world-building designs

With a production like this, cinema has never been more authentic.

Movies have the ability to transport audiences to different worlds. It's all thanks to production design. This field involves designing and building sets, costumes, props and all other visual elements to bring the script and director's vision to life. This year's nominees are no exception. From diving into the waters of Pandora to entering Steven Spielberg's childhood home, production design plays a big role in making these films believable.

Academy Award-winning production design can leave a lasting impact on audiences, capturing their imaginations and making them feel as though they are part of it. They add depth and richness to the film, elevating it from a series of moving frames to a fully real, immersive universe. From iconic Star Wars scenes to the harsh landscapes of sand dunes, these films are produced with designs that transport audiences to new worlds.

'20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1954)

20,000 Leagues Under Sea is an epic adventure film about a team of sailors who are kidnapped by anti-hero Captain Nemo (James Mason) and travel to his submarine, the Nautilus. From encountering giant squids and other sea monsters to exploring underwater ruins and Fight enemy ships as they search for a way to escape and return to land.

The film, which won the Best Art Direction Award in 1954, has a stunning production design that brings Jules Verne's classic novel to life. Its meticulous attention to detail, from the spectacular Nautilus to the sea life and underwater landscapes, truly immerses viewers in the underwater world.

'Fantastic Voyage' (1966)

Fantastic Voyage is a science fiction adventure film directed by Richard Fleischer (who also directed 20,000 Leagues Under Sea), starring Stephen Boyd and Raquel Welch. The film follows a downsized crew sent on a dangerous mission to save the life of a critically injured scientist from within.

With cutting-edge special effects, the film takes viewers on a journey into the inner workings of the human body, complete with incredible visuals and thrills. The Oscar-winning production design, which includes a futuristic laboratory, a giant submarine set and fantastical depictions of body parts, is considered by many to be a masterpiece.

'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' (1977)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, a legendary sci-fi film directed by George Lucas that survives to this day, follows the journey of a young boy named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) with an old Jedi (Alec Guinness), a princess (Carrie Fisher), a cocky pilot (Harrison Ford), a Wookiee (Peter Mayhew) and two Two androids (Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker) team up to save the galaxy from an evil empire.

Originally released only as Star Wars, the iconic work of the film, from the Death Star to the Millennium Falcon, helped create a fantasy universe that still impresses audiences today. No wonder the movie spawned countless sequels, episodes, and millions of devoted fans.

'Batman' (1989)

Directed by goth fan Tim Burton, Batman brings the Dark Knight to the big screen in a very different tone than the popular feature-length TV series that came before it. With Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and Jack Nicholson as his nemesis the Joker, the film established Batman as the hero we know today.

The Academy Award-winning production design in this film is stunning as it creates an entirely new, dark, brooding take on Gotham City, the iconic Batcave, and the gadgetry of the titular hero. The film's dedication to creating an amazing universe that felt like it belonged in the real world, and the comic books helped it become a classic.

'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' (2003)

The final book in the trilogy, The Lord of the The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King follows the hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Austin) on their final quest to destroy the One Ring. At the same time, under the leadership of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the rest of the expedition led the armies of Middle-earth in an epic battle. Fight to deflect Sauron's all-seeing eye.

The production of the film was enormous, with functional sets set in New Zealand landscapes, detailed costumes and weapons, and miniatures. The series, dedicated to bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's words to film, finally won an Academy Award for Best Graphic Design after being nominated for two years in a row.

'Avatar' (2009)

Also known as the world's biggest movie, Avatar tells the story of a disabled marine (Sam Worthington) who is sent to the planet Pandora, where he becomes a member of the native species, learning their ways And earn their trust so that humans can take advantage of their natural resources.

James Cameron is no stranger to large-scale, ambitious world-building. While many critics complained about its story, its visuals are nothing to sneeze at. From floating mountains to bioluminescent environments, every aspect of Pandora is designed to transport viewers to A whole new world. It won an Oscar for its state-of-the-art effects and production design.

'Inception' (2010)

Inception is a psychedelic science fiction film about a team that enters other people's dreams to steal secrets. The mission is unique in that it requires the team to plant an idea in someone's head: from there it all becomes complicated, with multiple layers of dreams, moments of questioning the character's reality, and a rogue subconscious.

Christopher Nolan was known to always opt for utilitarian sets and effects, so the film's imaginative and convoluted sets, such as the folding cityscape of Paris and the swirling corridor hotel, help to set the film Bring the dream world of yours to life. The attention to detail and creativity in the production design played a huge role in the film's success and eventual Oscar win.

'Mad Max: Fury Road' (2015)

Shot on set in the Namib Desert, Mad Max: Fury Road is an impassioned action film about a lone ranger named Max (Tom Hardy) and Furiosa ( The story of a rebel group led by Charlize Theron teaming up to escape the Outpost - an apocalyptic wasteland from a tyrannical ruler and his armies.

Despite losing Best Picture, the film was the biggest Oscar winner that year, in part because it was cool and wild production design. From the colossal War Rig to the Citadel, a variety of dieselpunk vehicles and environments bring the film's post-apocalyptic world to life. Production design played a key role in making the movie so visceral and badass.

'Black Panther' (2018)

Ryan Coogler's Black Panther follows the character of King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) of Wakanda, As the leader and protector of his isolationist but technologically advanced African nation, he also faces a villain who wants to exploit Wakanda's resources.

The film won three Academy Awards, including one for its Gorgeous production design, it's responsible for transporting viewers to the advanced and stunning fictional country of Wakanda. It draws inspiration from real-world cultures to create designs, from its intricate architecture to its vibranium-enhanced garments. This makes it stand out not only from other Marvel movies, but from superhero movies in general as well.

'Dune' (2021)

Denis Villeneuve's Dune follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) as he finds his own path and destiny after moving to a sand planet and finding himself in the middle of a political coup against the current ruler.

The production design of Dune is a standout aspect. The film's visuals have been enhanced Impressively large and functional sets that create a visually stunning and believable world for actors and audience to immerse themselves in. Coupled with brilliant CGI, it brings Frank Herbert's seminal novel to the big screen for a new generation.

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