Permit me a small indulgence. Every time I consider this category, the voice of The Chipmunk Adventure’s Miss Miller pops into my head, singing, “C’mon a my house, my house a c’mon.” I mean, she sings that during other major portions of my life, but in particular whenever I’m compelled to muse about which cinematic domiciles gave voters not just next year’s primary mood board for remodeling the breezeway, but also an apple and a plum and an apricot too. Unfortunately, The Queen of Versailles wasn’t technically eligible this year, so I’m forced to speculate as to what likely served as first runner up. Since it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to add the cast of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to the guest list for their progressive party, scratch that one from the list first.
Both Lincoln and Les Misérables present slightly trickier cases in that neither exactly suggest cohesive looks so much as the respective construction and destruction of interiors that don’t fully exist within their films’ timespan. The last time we thought the Oscar would break toward fresh pine and cedar, it instead went to that year’s desiccated playground for Broadway showtune queens. Still, having a slight edge over Lincoln will likely have to be Les Misérables’s only consolation prize. The award comes down to a battle between two movies that, without their production design, would’ve been as homeless as the Chipmunks and Chipettes on a balloon race around the world. Life of Pi’s toke-perfect 3D phantasmagoria of rolling, gelatinous ocean currents and puff pastry clouds has this category’s recent history on its side, but we think more voters will regard Anna Karenina’s ubiquitous proscenium arches, which were the result of Joe Wright’s production not securing enough lucre to go forth with standard-issue location shooting, as a prime example of a near-troubled production finding the swankest place to crash for the night.
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Could Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi