Fanny and Alexander and Yentl fill the period piece slots, and given the number of nominations they accumulated, plus the buzz at the time, I think it's safe to say each came this close to a Best Picture nomination. Return of the Jedi is the obvious sci-fi/fantasy set -- spaceships, mythical setting specific to a weird creature, the usual-usual. The Right Stuff combines the fascination with space tech -- something that would also benefit Gravity, The Martian, and Inception -- with the period trappings of the 60s.
And then there's Terms of Endearment, the extremely rare contemporary entry that I can't imagine being anything other than a coattails nod, especially since it means ignoring the specificity of The Dresser or the wonder of Krull.
Fanny and Alexander won -- let's see if it should have. After the jump.
FANNY AND ALEXANDER
Anna Asp, art director
Susanne Lingheim, set decorator
*****The details stun, from the maze of clutter and marionettes at Jacobi's, to the warm, red wealth of the Ekdahls', to the cold emptiness of the Bishop's. Character through craft.
RETURN OF THE JEDI
Norman Reynolds, production designer
Fred Hole/James L. Schoppe, art directors
Michael Ford, set decorator
***A new Death Star under construction, a space slug's shadowy palace and his fleet of skiffs, the Ewok village, Ackbar's ship. Best: the Emperor's throne room, a true Dark Side.
THE RIGHT STUFF
Geoffrey Kirkland, production designer
Richard Lawrence/W. Stewart Campbell/Peter R. Romero, art directors
Jim Poynter/George R. Nelson, set decorators
****I love the details of the rinky-dink watering hole that is Pancho Barnes', but of course I am all about the recreations of the various aircraft, capsules, and bases.
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
Polly Platt, production designer
Harold Michelson, art director
Tom Pedigo/Anthony Mendell, set decorators
**I think of two sets: Aurora's beautifully-realized back garden, complete with gazebo, and Emma and Flap's cluttered home, typical of parents (homes, really). Oh, all right, and Garrett's NASA-themed home, which Aurora takes the trouble to point out.
Roy Walker, production designer
Leslie Tomkins, art director
Tessa Davies, set decorator
****Everyone in the movie sees fit to comment on Hadass's parents' finery -- especially compared to Avigdor's cramped room with the single bed. The village, the yeshiva, the cafe where the students go and, like, I don't know, play chess? It's all realistically realized.
This is silly. Why are we even debating this? My vote goes to....
FANNY AND ALEXANDER
Five actors: Rip Torn, Sam Shepard, John Lithgow, Jack Nicholson, Charles Durning.
One category: Best Supporting Actor.