These Movies Feature the Best Set Design of 2022

Wilson Webb/Netflix

A good movie lures you in with a riveting story and presents you with a visual feast. That second part is largely thanks to the sets and filming locations that bring these story lines to life. As awards season approaches, we’re taking a look at some of the best production design to grace the big screen in 2022. From the picture-perfect midcentury dreamland in Don’t Worry Darling, to the California Gold Rush theme park in Nope, to the over-the-top private estate in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, these films wield clever designs that refuse to let the eye wander from the screen. Many are sure to be top contenders for official award recognition while others deserve some praise whether it be for the decor inspo they provide or the creativity it took to bring them to life. (And when you’re done browsing, make sure to also check out our picks for the best TV production design of 2022.)

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Graceland was recreated with meticulous detail for director Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, thanks to award-winning designer Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s wife and frequent collaborator) and her team. Filmed in Queensland, Australia, the biopic features a number of other crucial sets—including Elvis’s International Hotel suite, a fictionalized interior that was designed to look like a golden cage and sarcophagus with a very specific view of Las Vegas. Read more about the design process here.

For Jordan Peele’s thriller Nope, production designer Ruth De Jong designed the California Gold Rush theme park, Jupiter’s Claim, from the ground up. The massive set includes a sheriff’s office, general store, saloon, post office, candy store, and barber shop (to name a few!)—all buildings that have functional interiors. It was even added to the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood the same day the film was released. The Haywood ranch was also built from scratch in California. De Jong and set designer Jim Hewitt designed it to feel like a true-to-life farmhouse with an exterior that blends into the landscape, The Credits reports.

Don’t Worry Darling offers a tour of some of the best midcentury architecture in Palm Springs and beyond. The sets are just as dreamy, and they also heavily drive the sinister plot. The bright color palette and custom-made furniture give the illusion of a pristine 1950s life, but hidden elements prove otherwise. Dig into how production designer Katie Byron and her team brought the sets to life for the dazzling yet disorienting tale here.


Everything Everywhere All At Once

A multiverse movie naturally requires a number of distinct sets with a few central ones, and Everything Everywhere All At Once is no exception. It was mainly filmed in an office building in Simi Valley, California, where production designer Jason Kisvarday and his team created a cost-effective carousel of sets. The small apartment above the laundromat, which was constructed in the cafeteria of that building, required particular attention to detail to make it feel realistic. Set decorator Kelsi Ephraim hired a cultural consultant to help her source items like the right brand of rice steamer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Other sets with fleeting on-screen moments were shot in Los Angeles’s Chinatown and on free-standing sets at DC Stages.

For Enola Holmes 2, production designer Michael Carlin leaned into historic authenticity. The film’s matchstick factory interior was built in an old printing factory in the Wapping neighborhood of London. The machinery equipment and furniture were manufactured to make the set look like a real match-making facility. Sherlock’s flat was made to stand out from other iterations as the decor emphasizes the detective’s love for natural philosophy and music and makes him come off as a bit of an obsessive collector. Get a deeper look at the movie’s filming locations and set design details here.

The original 1986 Top Gun made use of real Navy equipment and expertise, so it was imperative that the sequel did so too. This presented a number of challenges, including having an F-14 Tomcat plane—an aircraft that has been decommissioned in the United States—dismantled, shipped to an airfield, and put together to be as functional as possible. Production designer Jeremy Hindle brought in 20 other aircraft from across the country for the film, Variety reports. And if you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to live in an aircraft hangar like Maverick, the answer is yes.

So many iterations of the Batman universe exist, so production designer James Chinlund was tasked with creating something familiar and new for director Matt Reeves’s The Batman. From the Batcave being a private subway station to a Batmobile that’s designed to look like it’s breathing, the new take certainly offers an eerie realism. “We were hopeful that we could create a Gotham that felt simultaneously real and grounded, and like a place you could go, but also… this murky spooky world,” Chinlund told TheWrap.

Set in 1920s Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies, Bablyon features more than 100 sets. Everything from the lavish homes with varied architectural styles to the outdoor production stages, which were common to the era, bring the period to life. It’s meant to feel chaotic and historic. “Damien [Chazelle, the director,] and I really wanted to create a terrifying experience for when they’re coming into sound, this sarcophagus of a studio,” production designer Florencia Martin told the Los Angeles Times. “So, you step into sound, dark with big giant lights and this spider web of microphones over your head.”

At the center of The Menu is the restaurant where the multicourse, innovative experience takes place. The goal was to create a cold and unsettling interior to serve as backdrop for a chilling night. With strong geometry and a minimalist look with Nordic and Scandinavian influences, the restaurant is meant to “feel like it has been harvested from the ecosystem,” production designer Ethan Tobman told Deadline. Many elements were designed like how a chef would craft a meal. “So, wood is blanched, it’s charred, it’s stained with spices.”

The supermarket in White Noise is a colorful beacon of abundance and connection. It also speaks to the characters through product advertisements that often don’t have their best interests at heart. “I knew it had to be big and bold and graphic and sort of like riffing on the Rubick’s Cube, which was like the biggest thing in the 1980s,” production designer Jess Gonchor told IndieWire of the A&P set. “The colors of the store and the products and all the advertising and everything hit the highest note of the movie.”


Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery mainly takes place at a tech billionaire’s estate (which is a real resort you can visit!), so the set design is exactly as chaotic and over-the-top as you’d expect it to be from an owner who wants to show off his power and expensive taste. The most notable spot on the private island is the glass atrium, which production designer Rick Heinrichs packed with everything from glass sculptures on pedestals to an art collection featuring Picasso, Monet, and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s the Mona Lisa.

Empire of Light is everything you’d want from a romance that blooms in an aged cinema on England’s south coast in the 1980s. The drama was filmed in the English town of Margate. The cinema at the heart of the tale is played by Dreamland, a former cinema and ballroom with an incredible Art Deco exterior. Production designer Mark Tildesley’s team gave it a big transformation, turning the building’s theatrical auditorium—that was converted into “a pea green bingo hall”—into the Empire’s beguiling cinema, according to a press brief. The lobby interior of the cinema was actually a man-made set built down the street from it so that it seems like the theater is right on the seafront. And that’s only a few of the thoughtful design decisions that were made for the production.

Set in the 1930s and inspired by true events, Amsterdam features a number of dreamy Art Deco and bohemian interiors. It’s also dotted with notable and subtle details, including “swastikas everywhere as a sign of what was lying underneath everything,” production designer Judy Becker told the Los Angeles Times. The props like art made from the fragments of war (the shrapnel-covered teapot, the hairbrush, and the mirror) boost the movie’s overall theme.

Tapping into the horrors of modern dating, Fresh takes us to a midcentury house that comes complete with a terrifying dungeon. The house reflects its psychopathic owner, a seemingly normal guy who is revealed to be a cannibal. “I was like, okay, everything we do needs to involve body parts, in some capacity,” production designer Jennifer Morden told Dezeen. “Every piece of artwork, every piece of furniture and the way the hallways are designed.”

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These Movies Feature the Best Set Design of 2022

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