“The prestigious art house documentary Hot Tub Time Machine.” – the Art Directors Guild ceremony’s MVP joke

The Art Directors Guild‘s 28th Excellence in Production Design Awards was held on February 10, 2024, at Ovation Hollywood’s Ray Dolby Ballroom, home of the Oscars Governors Ball. At Saturday evening’s ceremony, hosted by actor Max Greenfield (BoJack Horseman, A Series of Unfortunate Events), genre darlings Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Poor Things were among those singled out for “excellence” in motion pictures, television, commercials, music, and video production. Since 2014, ADG has offered a live stream of the awards ceremony.

With approximately 3,000 members, ADG, or IATSE Local 800, is comprised of four craft councils: Art Directors Council, Set Designers and Model Makers Council, Scenic Title and Graphic Artists Council, and Illustrators and Matte Artists Council. “It’s our honor and privilege to gather the guild to recognize the excellence among our members,” said the awards’ producers Michael Allen Glover, ADG, and Megan Elizabeth Bell, ADG, in a joint statement.

Keep reading for this year’s winners.

28th Excellence in Production Design Awards

Max’s Love and Death star Lily Rabe was there to present the award in the Short Format and Music Video category.

Long-time Swiftie production designer Ethan Tobman won for Taylor Swift‘s “I Can See You” music video. He was nominated in the category against Jason Hougaard for Apple’s “The Underdogs: Swiped Mac,” Jen Dunlap for boygenius’s “the film,” Kurt Gefke for Miley Cyrus’s “River” music video, and Brandon Mendez for the music video for “Candy Necklace,” by Lana Del Rey featuring Jon Batiste.

In the One-Hour Period Single-Camera Series category, Martin Childs was nominated for his work on the Netflix series The Crown, which Greenfield pointed out was the designer’s sixth nomination, yet he has never won. Again, it wasn’t Childs’ year, losing to Francesca di Mottola for work on The Great episodes “You the People,” “Fun,” and “Peter and the Wolf.”

Also nominated in the category were Bob Shaw for The Gilded Age episodes “His Grace the Duke,” “Close Enough to Touch,” and “Warning Shots,” Bill Groom for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episode “Susan,” and Keith Cunningham for Perry Mason‘s “Chapter Eleven.”

Oppenheimer‘s production designer, Ruth De Jong, won the Period Feature Film award. He was up against Asteroid City‘s Adam Stockhausen, Killers of the Flower Moon‘s Jack Fisk, Maestro‘s Kevin Thompson, and Napoleon‘s Arthur Max.

“Congratulations to Ruth De Jong on her Art Directors Guild Award win for Excellence in Production Design (Period Feature Film,” tweeted Oppenheimer‘s official account on X (formerly Twitter).

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse production designer Patrick O’Keefe won in the Animated Feature Film category. “This film really required that we change our approach to filmmaking,” O’Keefe said in his acceptance speech, who, then, added that the film’s animation team, which approached 1000 people (one of the largest in history), really owes its work to the incredible comic artist who inspired them (not to mention who worked alongside them, designing the look of the different Spidey-Verses).

O’Keefe beat out Yôji Takeshige, art director of The Boy and the Heron; Don Shank, art director of Elemental; Guillaume Aretos, production designer of The Super Mario Bros. Movie; and Yashar Kassai, production designer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

The winner in the Multi-Camera Series category was Glenda Rovello for Frasier’s “Moving In,” who noted in her speech that this award is a group effort. Rovello won over fellow nominees Kelly Hogan of Bunk’d for the episode “The Glitching Hour,” Francoise Cherry-Cohen for Bob Hearts Abishola’s episode “Twerk O’ Clock,” Jerry Dunn for The Conners’ episode “Road Trip and Guilt Trip,” and Greg J. Grande for That 90’s Showepisode “Free Leia.”

In ADG’s Half-Hour Single-Camera Series category, the nominees for production design excellence were Merje Veski for The Bear episode “Omelette,” Patrick Howe for Only Murders in the Building episodes “Sitzprobe” and “Opening Night,” Ra Vincent for Our Flag Means Death episodes “Impossible Birds,” “Red Flags,” and “Man on Fire,” Brandon Tonner-Connolly for Reservation Dogs episode “Deer Lady,” and Shayne Fox for What We Do in the Shadows episode “A Weekend at Morrigan Manor.”

Tanner-Connolly took home the award for “Deer Lady,” the episode that told the story of Indigenous boarding schools in America. Apparently, the art department was ravaged by a fire, but the crew felt the story was so important that they pushed through.

The Short-Format Commercials category nominees included François Audouy (Apple: The New Macbook Pro: “Scary Fast”), Florencia Martin (Booking.com: “Somewhere, Anywhere,” The Musical), Dylan Kahn(Dom Perignon: “Lady Gaga – The Labor of Creation”), Annie Beauchamp (Giorgio Armani: “Armani Si”), and Natalie Groce (M&M’s: “Ma&Ya’s”). Excitingly, there was a tie in this category, with the first announced winner being Martin, followed by Audouy.

Rhys Darby presented the ADG award for excellence in production design for a Variety Special, which Brian Stonestreet won for the 80th Golden Globe Awards. Fellow nominees in the category included Steve Bass for the 76th Annual Tony Awards, as well as Dave Chappelle: The Dreamer production designer Bruce Ryan, Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas production designer Misty Buckley, and The Weeknd: Live at Sofi Stadium production designer Es Devlin.

Notably, Dave Chappelle‘s predictably transphobic recent Netflix special was nominated. While I don’t know if the special’s production designer shares the same beliefs as Chapelle, by now, they must have known who they were signing on to promote and the beliefs he espouses.

Darby also presented the winner in the Variety or Reality Series category. The Squid Game – The Challenge‘s “War” production designers Mathieu Weekes and Benjamin Norman took home the award, winning over History of the World, Part II production designer Monica Sotto, for episode “VIII;” Gianna Costa, RuPaul’s Drag Race production designer, for episode “Blame it on the Edit;” Cindy Chao and Michele Yu, A Black Lady Sketch Show production designers for episodes “I’m Clapping From My Puss,” “What Kind of Medicine Does Dr. King Practice?,” and “Peek-A-Boob, Your Titty’s Out;” as well as Saturday Night Live episodes “Jenna Ortega/The 1975” and “Nate Bargatze/Foo Fighters” production design team Keith Ian Raywood, Akira Yoshimura, and N. Joseph DeTullio.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Kevin Pollak presented the award in the One-Hour Contemporary Single-Camera Series. Nominated in the category was Fargo‘s Trevor Smith for “Trials and Tribulations,” The Morning Show’s Nelson Coates for “The Kármán Line,” “Ghost in the Machine,” and “Love Island,” Poker Face’s Judy Rhee for “Escape From Shit Mountain,” YellowjacketsMargot Ready for “Digestif,” as well as Succession’s Stephen Carter, who took home the award for his work on “America Decides.”

Pollak also presented the award for Contemporary Feature Film. Nominated in the category were production designers Fiona Crombie for Beau is Afraid, Kevin Kavanaugh for John Wick: Chapter 4, Donald Graham Burt for The Killer, Suzie Davies for Saltburn, and Gary Freeman for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

Davies, who was not in attendance, won.

The One-Hour Fantasy Single-Camera Series category winner was John Paino for The Last of Us episode “Infected.” Paino was given the honor over For All Mankind‘s production designer Seth Reed for “The Bear Hug,” Loki’s Kasra Farahani for “Ouroboros,” Silo‘s Gavin Bocquet for “Machines,” and The Mandalorian‘s Doug Chiang and Andrew L. Jones for “Chapter 23: The Spies.”

GotG 3 Karen Gillan and her co-presented also went on to present the award for production design excellence in Television Movie or Limited Series, where Simon Elliott was nominated for All the Light We Cannot See, Alex DiGerlando for A Murder at the End of the World, Grace Yun for Beef, Jessica Kender for Daisy Jones & The Six, and Cat Smith for Lessons in Chemistry.

Beef‘s Yun took home the award in this category.

The duo also announced that Poor Things production designers James Price and Shona Heath won in the Fantasy Feature Film category. They were nominated alongside Barbie production designer Sarah Greenwood, The Creator production designer James Clyne, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 production designer Beth Mickle, and Nathan Crowley, the production designer of Wonka.

Notable absences from the nominees in this category were Oscar Best Picture hopefuls The Color Purple, The Holdovers, and American Fiction. However, as Variety wrote, “It’s worth noting, the guild’s track record as a precursor missed the mark last year. Babylon, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery were among the top honorees, while the Oscar went to All Quiet on the Western Front.”

ADG Lifetime Achievement Awards

Rick Carter, who previously received the award in 2014, was there to present the Illustrators and Artists Lifetime Achievement Award to David Lowery, head of storyboards for The Mandalorian. Jon Favreau, who also worked with Lowery on the live-action remake of The Lion King, Iron Man, and Iron Man 2, filmed a video congratulating the storyboarded and illustrator on the win, calling his storyboards “great art.”

Check out some of Lowery’s “great” artistic contributions below:

David Lowery The Mandalorian
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards

Through the STG Council, scenic artist Francine West won ADG’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to her by her two granddaughters. West was the first female scenic artist ever hired to work on film and TV by both MGM and the NBC Television Network, as well as the first woman to be a Charge Artist at Grosh Scenic Studios in Hollywood, according to an ADG LinkedIn post announcing the honor.

During her career, West worked at the ABC, NBC, and CBS scenic shops on television shows, including Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, The Carol Burnett Show, and Three’s Company. She also worked on live event programs such as The Academy Awards, The Emmy Awards, and Super Bowl XVII.

Check out West’s work as a scenic artist below:

Francine West scenic art
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards
Francine West scenic art
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards
Francine West scenic artwork
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards

Starting in MGM’s mail room and now with well over 100 films under his belt, Greg Papalia was honored with an ADG Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as both art director and set designer on projects including AirGodzilla vs. Kong, and Hail, Ceasar!

The Set Designers and Model Makers Council said in an Instagram statement that Greg’s work and dedication to his craft have been an inspiration to us all. He has served the members, inspired future set designers, and created beautiful drawings and sets on many productions throughout a long career.”

Check out Papalia’s iconic work below:

Greg Papalia set design for Hail, Caesar!
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards
Godzilla vs. Kong set design sketches
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards

ADG’s Cinematic Imagery Award, awarded to directors who push the boundaries of storytelling with work that “richly enhance[s] the visual aspects of the viewer’s experience,” went to the first female graduate of AFI, Mimi Leder, who “broke down barriers” when being seen as an independent, opinionated woman could get you fired. “Leder has blazed a pathway for powerful and brilliant women off-screen,” said award presenter Karen Pittman (The Morning Show, And Just Like That…). “[She] is a beacon for women like me.”

Leder’s most recent project is serving as executive producer and director of The Morning Show, starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Billy Crudup. Notably, she recently earned her tenth Emmy nomination for directing the first season finale of the hit Apple TV+ series.

Previous recipients of the award include Baz Luhrmann, Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and George Lucas.

As previously announced, legendary production designer Lawrence G. Paull, who passed away in 2019, was also inducted into the ADG Hall of Fame as part of the ceremony. Paul, who eventually joined my alma mater Chapman University as its “Filmmaker in Residence,” had his breakout designing Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

Check out some of Paull’s contributions to entertainment below:

Back to the Future
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards
Blade Runner
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards

When he joined ADG, production designer Wynn P. Thomas was the first Black man to pass the exam in 25 years, making him the first Black production designer to join the Guild. In 2024, he’s being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’m honored to be receiving this Lifetime Achievement Award,” Thomas said in his speech. “Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time looking back, looking back on the journey that has brought me here. Something like this doesn’t happen without community, so I would like to say thank you.”

Thomas reflected on people who made fun of him, saying: “But that ‘sissy’ grew up to work with some great storytellers.” (Learn more about Thomas’ illustrious career via THR.)

Check out Thomas’ amazing storyboards below:

Thomas wynn storyboard
Photo: Art Directors Guild Awards

“Wynn P. Thomas has significantly shaped the landscape of filmmaking, and his diverse body of work reflects his innovative approach and commitment to storytelling. Beyond his artistic achievements, Thomas is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of designers. Thomas has not only broken barriers but also paved the way for future generations,” said Evan Rhode, Art Directors Council Chair.