‘Hugo,’ ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ take Art Directors Guild honors

This evening, honors for the 16th annual Art Directors Guild Awards were handed out. But before we get to those, a brief history lesson on Oscar/guild correlations.

Last year “Alice in Wonderland” won the Academy Award but lost in the ADG’s fantasy category to “Inception” (which, I have to say, should have walked away with the Oscar). Then there were two years of matching up with “Avatar” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” winning in their respective categories.

In 2007, “There Will Be Blood” beat out eventual Oscar winner “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in the ADG’s period category, while in 2006, “Pan’s Labyrinth” won the ADG fantasy award as a precursor to its Oscar. Prior to that, the guild actually combined period and fantasy productions in one category.

All things considered, 10 of the last 16 Oscar winners for Best Art Direction won with the guild as well. But does that matter all that much? Not particularly. Keep in mind, you have art directors picking winners at the guild. The full membership of the Academy will be voting on the winners at the Oscars.

In the period category, Dante Ferretti took top honors for “Hugo.” Believe it or not, this was Ferretti’s first win from the guild to date. He’s won two Oscars, however, for “The Aviator” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

For fantasy films, the winner was “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” It’s worth noting that the franchise itself was honored by the guild with the Cinematic Imagery Award this year. It could actually be something to watch for as a spoiler at the Oscars, and a win wouldn’t be a bad call, I think. The production design of the series has been outstanding and consistent throughout. No surprise, then, that Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan have been there since day one.

Finally, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” took home the contemporary prize. Fair enough. Though I might have gone with “Drive,” personally.

I’m still banking on “Hugo” to win the Oscar. And by the way, not that it matters a whole lot, but the last time a Best Picture winner won Best Art Direction was 2003’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” (Ditto Best Costume Design, actually.)

The other nominees for the Oscar are Best Picture frontrunner “The Artist,” the aforementioned “Harry Potter,” surprise contender “Midnight in Paris” (not nominated by the guild) and the Academy-resurrected “War Horse” (also not nominated by the guild).

One final note: the 83rd annual Academy Awards won the award for awards, music, or game show design. One of the other nominees was last year’s Golden Globes ceremony. So, go Oscar, I suppose.

Once again, check out the winners of the 16th annual Art Directors Guild Awards below. And as always, remember to keep track of the ups and downs of the 2011-2012 film awards season via The Circuit.

Excellence in Production Design in a Period Film: “Hugo”

Excellence in Production Design in a Fantasy Film: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”

Excellence in Production Design in a Contemporary Film: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Excellence in Production Design in Awards, Music, or Game Shows: “The 83rd annual Academy Awards”

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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