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Art Directors Go with Avatar, Hurt Locker, Sherlock Holmes, Beatty

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 14, 2010 at 10:19AM

One thing I love about this year's Oscar race is the way lower-budget movies like The Hurt Locker hold their own against the big-budget behemoths. At the crystal-themed Art Director's Guild awards on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow, taller than ever in high high heels, presented the period film award to Sherlock Holmes, which beat out best-picture Oscar nominee Inglourious Basterds.
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Thompson on Hollywood

One thing I love about this year's Oscar race is the way lower-budget movies like The Hurt Locker hold their own against the big-budget behemoths. At the crystal-themed Art Director's Guild awards on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow, taller than ever in high high heels, presented the period film award to Sherlock Holmes, which beat out best-picture Oscar nominee Inglourious Basterds.

That gives the Oscar advantage in the art direction category to best-picture front-runners Avatar, which won the fantasy division, and Bigelow's Hurt Locker, which won the contemporary prize. Avatar's lead production designer Rick Carter accepted with Rick Stromberg, who designed the Pandora side of the movie. They asked the 39 members from local 800 to stand. "Half the room worked on this movie," said Stromberg. James Cameron came to support the team, he said, insisting that he's enjoying the crazy Oscar campaign trail.

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Warren Beatty entered the room stag--wife Annette Bening is starring in the play Female of the Species. We talked about a number of things--safe to say he doesn't like Star, Peter Biskind's new Beatty bio, but he's not commenting. Nine books have been written about him at this point. In his speech accepting the ADG cinematic imagery award, the director of Reds, Bulworth and Dick Tracy talked about filmmaking as being like projectile vomiting--basically, the art directors he has worked with, like presenter Paul Sylbert, "held his head. A good art director on movie gives a ship ballast that will make a movie safe." Beatty is great at coming off as sincere and natural --"I'll put my narcissism up against any of yours anytime," he said--while giving the utterly professional speech.

UPDATE: Here's a funny art directors short they showed at the awards event. Host Paula Poundstone made the most of "the main thing is to stay with the main thing" motif all night.


This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Video, Oscars, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.