This first appeared as part of a multi-part series on Filmotomy.com
Moulin Rouge – Best Art Direction & Best Costume Design, 2001
As far as Oscar-winning designers go, Catherine Martin is the epitome of a double threat. A creator of both sets and costumes—often for the same movie—Martin has garnered a total of four Oscars for two films, making her the winningest Australian in Academy history. Most recently, she took home two statuettes for her glitzy take on The Great Gatsby. Her previous same-ceremony dual-victories came twelve years prior to that for Moulin Rouge, thanks in large part to Martin’s keen world-building.
Moulin Rouge is a film that relies heavily on spectacle and style. It’s a designer’s utopia. Visually weaving fantasy into reality, the scenery educes a dreamlike landscape rich with a flamboyance that elevates the film’s feverish atmosphere. More is definitely more here. Unbound by time, Moulin Rouge all at once looks like a raucous cabaret, a Golden Age-era studio musical, and a sexy Madonna video. Martin’s lush Art Direction and Costume Design steal the spotlight in every frame by bringing to life the Bohemian, decadent, tuberculosis-ridden Paris that many of us fell in love with in our youth.