By Christa Youngpeter

Sure James Cameron and his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow may be the talk of the Best Director category, but far less sensational are the nominees of Best Art Direction. Another category that honors the hard working (and often forgotten) behind the scenes folks, many a multiple statue winner has found itself in this field.

OK, so it should also be noted that Cameron’s Avatar is nominated in both Best Director and Best Art Direction, but Art Direction is all about production and set design rather than the main man – or woman! – behind the camera, hence this nom’ for Avatar going to Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (Art Direction) and Kim Sinclair (Set Decoration). But really, is it fair to include a film so heavy on special effects and CGI? Odds are the Academy will turn a collective nose up at the idea, and instead pick from the remainder of the diverse field.

First though, here are some photos of Avatar:

Besides the blockbuster blue-people-laden juggernaut, the remaining nominees are a pleasantly varied blend of period (The Young Victoria), musical (Nine), mainstream family-friendly fare (Sherlock Holmes) and just plain out of the ordinary (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas).

The Young Victoria, a sumptuous well, Victorian era picture could prove strong Oscar fodder given its well-rounded cast (I’ll say it again-Emily Blunt is stunning in so many ways) and how well they move within the vision of Patrice Vermette and Maggie Gray. Then again, with nominations in Best Achievement in Make Up as well as Best Costumes, Victoria could get passed over in this category due to the overshadowing of the worthy achievements in former.

Here are some photos of The Young Victoria:

With its lavish, glittery cleavage-a-plenty feast for the eyes, Nine’s sets certainly weren’t the most notable element to an overall disappointing film. Most of the song and dance numbers were set on minimalist stages, and the scene-chewing ensemble cast took away from John Myhre and Gordon Sim’s work. Despite high hopes when I first saw trailers for Nine, it’s certainly a long shot here.

Here are some photos of Nine.

In the middle of the heap there is Guy Ritchie’s good, but certainly not great, Sherlock Holmes. But while the popcorn-script (complete with the most obvious sequel set up possibly ever) was average, the sets and design were rather outstanding. Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer put together a potentially winning combo of old timey London and eye-popping gadgets that upstage even Robert Downey Jr.’s campy fun Sherlock.

Here are some photos of Sherlock Holmes:

And then there was The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas. Terry Gilliam, the man behind Monty Python, with production and set designers Dave Warren/Anastasia Masaro and Caroline Smith weaves a bizarre world commingling a mystical theater troupe with the everyday world they thrust themselves into. Perhaps best known for being Heath Ledger’s last film, production went on despite his death mid-way though filming, finishing with an ensemble of actors to play the lead, Tony. While not really relevant to Art Direction, the pains of production ultimately took away from the film as a whole – Oscar chances included.

Here are some photos of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas:

Road to the Oscars series:

Podcasts – Kit Bowen, Nate Freiberg, Adam Spunberg, and Phil Wallace

February 4: Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

February 5: Animated Short – Kit Bowen

February 8: Documentary Short Subject – Christa Youngpeter

February 9: Documentary Feature – Nate Freiberg

February 10: Foreign Language Film – Paul Popiel

February 12: Animated Film – Nate Freiberg

February 15: Sound Mixing – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Sound Editing – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 18: Visual Effects – Mallory Pickard

February 19: Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 22: Makeup – Christa Youngpeter

February 23: Costume – Steve Neumann

February 24: Art Direction – Christa Youngpeter

February 25: Film Editing – Steve Neumann

February 26: Cinematography – Paul Popiel

February 27: Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 28: Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

March 1: Supporting Actress – Marla Seidell

March 2: Supporting Actor – Phil Wallace

March 3: Actress – Marla Seidell

March 4: Actor – Kit Bowen

March 5: Director – Adam Spunberg

March 5: Picture – Kit Bowen

March 7: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards!