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Oscar Nominee: American Gangster for Art Direction

Every week up until the Oscars, I'll be featuring the nominees in the various visual categories. This week, I'll be looking at the nominees for Best Art Direction, which encompasses the entire look and feel of a film from the scenery to the lighting. Today's featured movie is American Gangster.


With American Gangster, director Ridley Scott was given the challenging task of conveying the gritty, dangerous atmosphere of a drug-riddled Harlem in the 60s and 70s. There's a glitzy-glam aspect to it with the fashions and sensuality of the era, and then there's the pain of drug addiction, the grim realities of gang life and the ominous presence of racial tension. The result in Scott's movie is a world awash in browns, grays and blues, with the occasional shock of gold and glitter to show the opulence that these drug lords enjoyed when business was booming.

I find it fitting that Scott is nominated in this category for so vividly depicting the ugliness of this time period — as well as the bleakness of the drug trade. To check out a gallery of evocative images from American Gangster, read more

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