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Great WInd, Great Appreciation, Great Firsts: The 2016 ADG Awards

By: Marjorie Galas

Despite a massive rain and windstorm that left the Beverly Hills Hotel International Ballroom without power a mere two hours before the 2016 Art Directors Guild Awards on Sunday, January 31, the event went off nearly on cue.  The teleprompter proved wonky, but host Owen Benjamin worked around it, sharing some of his best jokes on his third outing as the ADG Awards host.

“After watching ‘The Martian’ many art directors thought Matt Damon was portraying one of their own. ‘He’s just like me, working with zero budget and designing with duct tape and my own sh**’,” said Benjamin.

The evening offered several firsts.  It was the first event new ADG president Nelson Coates officiated over.  It was the first time the William Cameron Menzies Award was presented – an award that recognizes a vast contribution to educating the public on, and promoting the work of, Art Directors and the variety of staff in the art departments.  The evening presented the unveiling of the new ADG Award trophy, now called the “Cinemagundy.” (Unfortunately, this reporter was too far away from the stage to be able to define the new look of the trophy.) And, at a time when many are critical of the industry’s lack of diversity, the ADG presented a roster made entirely of women into their Hall of Fame.

Robert Osborne received the William Cameron Menzies Award.  Although his entrance into Hollywood was as an actor, Lucille Ball recognized Osborne’s talent as a writer. Upon her suggestion, he began writing columns, eventually landing a steady gig at The Hollywood Reporter.  After appearances with many television networks, Turner Movie Classics created a host and anchor position specifically for Osborne, where he’s shared his love for every facet of film production for over twenty years.  Unfortunately, Osborne was ill and unable to attend the awards ceremony,  but sent a message stating he “greatly appreciated the honor.”

Upon receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award, Partrizia von Brandenstein stated “It’s hefty, just like me.” The rather svelte Brandenstein went on to exclaim that she wasn’t even a California resident and that she was thrilled to be singled out for the award.  The multi-Oscar nominated production designer – and winner for “Amadeus” – stated it was the uncommon generousity of all the teams of people she’s worked with over the years that she is most grateful for and with whom she shared the evening’s honor with.

“All these teams of people, I remember them with deep gratitude,” stated Brandenstein.

William J. Newmon, II, the Lifetime Achievement Award reciepent for set design, also dedicated his award to the people who have helped him along the way.  Noticing a Marine in the audience, he asked the young man to stand up and encouraged all attendees to pay tribute to his service.

“I’d like to thank the Marines for all they do for us.  We need to do a lot more for our military men, and support the Wounded Warriors,” said Newmon.

Later in the ceremony, actor Josh Brolin informed the teleprompter operator he need not worry about the script.  Brolin informed the audience that Cinematic Imagery Award recipient, director David O. Russell, sent him a text informing him the speech had to be related to the people who created the worlds, the streets, the houses that he loved or else he’d not make any movies.

“Your words were so moving,” said O. Russell upon entering the stage.  “I thank God I sent that text.  We care a lot about what the worlds look like and what they feel like when we are making our movies.”

After recognizing the artisans he’s worked with over the years, he gave a special shout out to production designer Judy Becker, whom he’s worked with on his last four films.  Noting they are both from the same neighborhood in New York and may as well be siblings, he credited their success to never being in the same room together.

“She’s always ahead doing the next world.  We are never in the same place, otherwise there may be a homicide.  But we work it out,” joked O. Russell.

The best acceptance speech of the evening went to Excellence in Production Design for an Awards or Event Special winner Derek McLane.  McLane, who won the 2015 award, confessed he had a mishap the prior year upon receiving his award.

“There was a wall on the other side of the stage that I hadn’t seen, and I split my pants as I climbed over it.  I accepted my award with split pants.  I thought I should fess up now,” said McLane.

Here is the  full list of the 2016 ADG Award Winners:

PERIOD FILM

THE REVENANT
Production Designer: JACK FISK

FANTASY FILM

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Production Designer: COLIN GIBSON

CONTEMPORARY FILM

THE MARTIAN
Production Designer: ARTHUR MAX


ONE-HOUR PERIOD OR FANTASY SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES

GAME OF THRONES: “High Sparrow,” “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” “Hardhome”
Production Designer: DEBORAH RILEY

ONE-HOUR CONTEMPORARY SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES

HOUSE OF CARDS: “Chapter 29,” “Chapter 36”
Production Designer: STEVE ARNOLD

TELEVISION MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL: “Checking In”
Production Designer: MARK WORTHINGTON

HALF HOUR SINGLE-CAMERA SERIES

THE MUPPETS: “The Ex-Factor,” “Pig’s in a Blanket”
Production Designer: DENISE PIZZINI

MULTI-CAMERA SERIES

THE BIG BANG THEORY: “The Skywalker Incursion,” “The Mystery Date Observation,” “The Platonic Permutation”
Production Designer: JOHN SHAFFNER

AWARDS OR EVENT SPECIAL

THE OSCARS: 2015
Production Designer: DEREK McLANE

SHORT FORMAT: WEB SERIES, MUSIC VIDEO OR COMMERCIAL

APPLE MUSIC: “The History of Sound”
Production Designer: JESS GONCHOR

VARIETY, REALITY OR COMPETITION SERIES

KEY & PEELE: “Ya’ll Ready For This?” “The End”
Production Designer: GARY KORDAN