History of the Art Directors Guild Awards

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The Art Directors Guild Awards will be handed out February 5, 2011 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Awards are given to outstanding production design and art direction in film and television. Voting runs until February 3 for online balloting.

General categories include a Lifetime Achievement Award, Excellence in Production Design and for Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery.

History of the Awards

The Art Directors Guild was formed in some capacity in 1924 as the Cinemagundi Club. In 1937 the club changed its name to the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors. In 1967 the Society included television in its name before settling on its current moniker in 2000.

The first time the Art Directors Guild awards were handed out was in 1996. Five awards were given, one for Excellence in Production Design for Film, one in the same category for film, and three special individual awards. "The English Patient" won for the film category. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" won for best television series.

The next year the awards were expanded to add two more television categories to differentiate between scripted shows, documentaries or awards shows and movies or miniseries. Predictably, "Titanic" won in the feature film category. On the television side, "Brooklyn South" beat out the effects-heavy "Babylon 5" and "Star Trek: Voyager" for the television series.

The Art Directors Guild awards expanded once again in 2000 to include differentiations between a contemporary film, a period or fantasy film, and between a single-camera television series or multiple camera series. "Gladiator" and "Chocolat" won in the film categories while "The X-Files" and "Bette" won for television.

In 2006, the awards expanded again as special effects became more prominent in modern movie making. Fantasy and Period films were separate categories finally so the movies with and without massive effects could be considered together.

Two years ago another category was added, one which differentiated between one hour television and half hour television shows.


In 2001, "Moulin Rouge" upset the effects-heavy period/fantasy film category which also had "A.I." and "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" as entrants. The following year "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" made up for it by winning an award. "Catch Me If You Can" beat out "The Bourne Identity" in the 2002 contemporary category.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" upset "Batman Begins" and "King Kong" in 2005, proving again that effects-laden and big budget movies aren't necessarily the most artistic in the eyes of art directors. The next year, any controversy would be laid to rest as the categories were separated.

This year, movie awards for 2010 should be fairly straightforward. "The King's Speech" is up for Period film while "Inception" should win for Fantasy film.

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