It’s no secret that there is a long list of period pieces films that have been nominated for Oscars this year. These films immerse their viewers in another time and place, revealing the continuity of human nature within wildly varying settings while still showing how similar people are and have always been. Human nature doesn’t change much, but the setting it occurs in does. This film genre is timeless no matter the era.
Set design acts as a lead character in these movies. It is what makes everything believable. Films can transport you to another time and place, and the furniture and decorative accessories that they choose to decorate with are what lend credibility. Often, antiques play a huge role. There were a few movies this year that plunge us into another time, and the Academy has shown its approval. Both Roma and The Favourite take us to very different places: Mexico City in the 1970s and England in the early 1700s.
Alfonso Cuarón, the director of Roma, didn’t just want to create a 70s home. He wanted to create an environment based on memories he experienced at his grandparents' home in the neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Set designer Eugenio Caballero created the sets without the narrative in mind, allowing the tone to be set organically. When creating this authentic environment, they curated decor from not only the 70s, but also the 40s and 50s. The home was built in the 30s and was a mosaic of time and style, as most homes are.
The home itself has a very strong Art Deco influence because it was built in the 1930s. If this period interests you, check our listings for the numerous pieces that lean into those characteristics.
It’s important to note that many of these pieces aren’t only from the 70s because periods build on each other. Most living spaces will often have more than one style, and that’s what adds so much visual interest, texture, and dimension to them. In Roma, it allowed the home to have a lived-in feeling - it showed that lives were spent in this place.
Now, let’s travel back two-and-a-half centuries to a manor in the English countryside. The Favourite follows a period of time in the life of Queen Anne and two of her close friends. You can’t quite get more luxurious and indulgent than the life of a queen, and production designer Fiona Crombie put this on full display. It was filmed in Hatfield House, a palatial home built in 1611 and well-preserved since. They made very intentional decisions in the styling of each space, careful not to crowd them with large furniture pieces to give the actors open space to move.
As far as the choice of antiques to bolster the sets, you can see that each item was carefully curated. The vanity in the Queen's boudoir is a great example of a space that uses well-preserved antiques along with pieces remade for accuracy.
It’s interesting to note these spaces could very well have been adorned with pieces from France, as trade throughout Europe was ubiquitous at that time.
Overall, these two films' use inclusion of antiques in their set design elevated them to a hyper-realistic level of accuracy. Quite an accomplishment! It takes a profound amount of knowledge and effort to create such a believable environment, and both films succeeded. Tune in to the Oscars to see how they fare, and check out some of our featured items to introduce some period touches into your very own home!