I'm a production designer. Here are some movies I consider perfect and weird and wonderful in their design, and I wish I could have made them.
  1. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)
    It's so strange and specific and cool. It references so many things but still manages to be like nothing else. A perfect mashup.
  2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
    A bit obvious maybe. It's probably every production designer's dream to do a Wes Anderson movie. But Anderson really celebrates the role of production design in a movie, and gives it so much time, attention and loving detail. I saw this movie in the theater when I was 18 and the idea of production design was barely a twinkle in my eye, but I was drawn to these sets.
  3. True Stories (1986)
    So weird and cool and totally relevant 30 years later. Plus David Byrne is my hero.
  4. Children of Men (2006)
    Sometimes production design not only adds backstory, but determines it. The attention to detail in the subtle, realistic design of this movie is insane. all those newspapers follow the timeline of the apocalypse leading up to the present (future). totally badass. And I love a subtle sci fi movie that feels like the world we know but just a little askew in a million subtle ways.
  5. All About My Mother (1999)
    Oh to work on a Pedro Almodovar movie! The color, the style, the vibrancy! I love his palettes and his sets within sets and all his amazing women.
  6. Somersault (2004)
    This Australian movie is beautiful to look at. It does so much with so little, and uses props, like a plain pair of red knit gloves, to create a powerful palette and metaphor and beautiful imagery.
  7. Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
    This is one of my favorite movies. It imbues every moment with magical possibility, and even though this is a modest little movie, the design creates that potential for magic in very mundane and real settings, like a department store shoe department or a sad little apartment, or a little girl's bedroom (her hope chest breaks my heart). Clearly the perspective is Miranda July's, but the design supports her point of view so simply and so well.
  8. Ghost World (2001)
    It's not easy to make a movie feel real and like a graphic novel at the same time, and the design of this movie does it so perfectly with color blocking and lots of contrast. Also Enid's room is one of the best bedrooms in movie history, and the opening scene of her dancing to Jaan Pehechan Ho through the window is 👌.
  9. Being John Malkovich (1999)
    K.K. Barrett is possibly the coolest production designer working. This movie is bizarre and ridiculous and the design makes it feel real and creepy and melancholy and hilarious. The puppets, the 7 1/2 floor, the training video, the portal. So weird and good.
  10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    The way this movie makes memory tangible and visual is so cool. The scenes of traveling through memories into different sets, playing with scale and lighting and color is so well orchestrated and designed.
  11. Beetlejuice (1988)
    This one and Edward Scissorhands are Tim Burton at his best, but Beetlejuice holds a special place in my heart. The life sized model of the town, Mrs. Deetz's whacked out renovation of the house, her sculptures, the sad purgatory waiting room. Good stuff.
  12. Do the Right Thing (1989)
    This movie perfectly captures the time and place - Brooklyn during a sweltering summer, and has a great palette that adds so much to the building tensions in the film. Also, it's still so cool 25 years later.
  13. The Virgin Suicides (1999)
    Pure girly teenage nostalgia. Another dream bedroom, not to mention the perfect school dance.
  14. The Science of Sleep (2006)
    I don't love this movie. I think it's kind of a self indulgent tale of an asshole artist. But I love looking at it. Michel Gondry has a great mind.
  15. In the Mood for Love (2000)
    Wong Kar-Wai. So stylish and beautiful.