Given the number of solitary protagonists in 2013 films, movie set designers often were limited to outfitting claustrophobic dwellings the size of a lifeboat, a space capsule or an abandoned car.
But fortunately not every film called for a micro design. Leonardo DiCaprio splurged on luxurious objets d'art, circa 1920, in "The Great Gatsby" and circa 1990 in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Jennifer Lawrence piled pattern on pattern at her '70s ranch-style home in "American Hustle." And Joaquin Phoenix found rosy-colored items throughout the futuristic cityscape of "Her."
So we owe thanks to the art directors who once again used scrumptious furnishings, wallcoverings, textiles and art to tell tales at the movies.
To some of them, I bestow my annual Chaise Lounge (or Longue for you Francophiles) Awards for the best design elements in the films of 2013. And once again, I present my laurels before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gets around to its little shindig March 2. Here goes (no envelopes needed):
Best terrace: Even if their relationship was on shaky ground, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy found some beautiful rock terraces in Greece to shore it up in "Before Midnight."
Best feminine mystique interiors: Rosy red and pink wall panels, lampshades and bric-a-brac light up Joaquin Phoenix's emotional wasteland in "Her."
Best "those were the good old days" decor: Like Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine," I would have felt pretty blue about slumming it in San Francisco after losing that fabulous house in the Hamptons.
Best bathroom: Layer on multiple patterns of foil wallpaper, and you have one mighty fine disco-inspired bathroom, where people can do the "(American) Hustle."
Best kitchen: Modest and cluttered, Brad Pitt's kitchen telegraphed the beauty of everyday life before all zombie hell broke loose in "World War Z."
Worst laundry room: Since the nuns refused to come clean, the convent laundry in "Philomena" harbored plenty of dirty little secrets.
Best closet: Nothing says you've arrived like the two-story custom closet from which pastel-hued shirts were flung in "The Great Gatsby." (As long as we're fantasizing, I wouldn't mind occasionally popping into that time-travel closet in "About Time.")
Best winter retreat: Who wouldn't want to build a snowman at the amazing ice palace in "Frozen"?
Best villain's lair: Grand but menacing, Donald Sutherland's digs and the victors' prize homes made neoclassical design feel especially nasty in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." (And though Daniel Brühl's father wouldn't back his racing career, the ancestral Austrian home gave me quite a "Rush.")
Best bare-bones media room: You don't need to spend a million bucks to catch up with family while watching the big game in "Nebraska."
Worst cruise decor: Despite the expansive ocean views, it's a toss-up who had the more horrific quarters -- Robert Redford's sinking ship in "All Is Lost" or Tom Hanks' floating prison in "Captain Phillips."
Best dead-end digs: Taking the prize are the narrow hallways with tiny doors in those '60s Greenwich Village apartment buildings of "Inside Llewyn Davis." (Runner-up: the spare hilltop Australian bungalow in "Saving Mr. Banks.")
Best robot decor: Once you've seen one Ye Olde Pub interior -- and a bunch of severed blue-blood limbs -- you've pretty much seen them all in "The World's End."
Best workshop: Though Robert Downey Jr.'s workshop went kablooey, a make-do Midwestern garage helped prove that "Iron Man 3" will always save the day. (Runner-up: Lily Tomlin's bike shop in "Admission.")
Cheeriest underground club: A salmon pink, white and turquoise paint job gave hope to those in need at the motel where Matthew McConaughey ran the "Dallas Buyers Club."
Best home appliance/First Aid kit: The total home health care healing machine in "Elysium" was out of this world.
Best wedding favor: Showing up for your daughter's marriage, and then falling in love with the groom's father and moving into his lovely Italian villa. How? "Love Is All You Need."
Best outdoors massage parlor: Nothing tops Catherine Keener's lovely trellised garden in "Enough Said."
And now, for the Grand Chaise: Yes, that one with the velvet leopard-print slipcover goes to the place I wish I could call home. Though I could commit to the brown-shingled Connecticut house with the private dock in "The Big Wedding" or gladly kill a fair amount of time in the rambling Georgian villa on the Cornwall coast in "About Time," my heart goes to Tobey Maguire's rose-covered writer's cottage in "The Great Gatsby." The Arts and Crafts interiors and homey white-flowered gardens made me want to kick up my heels, old sport!
2014 Academy Award
nominations for best production design
Recognizing achievement in art direction on a film
Hustle": Judy Becker, production design; Heather Loeffler, set decoration
"Gravity": Andy Nicholson, production design; Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard, set decoration
"The Great Gatsby": Catherine Martin, production design; Beverley Dunn, set decoration
"Her": K.K. Barrett, production design; Gene Serdena, set decoration
"12 Years a Slave": Adam Stockhausen, production design; Alice Baker, set decoration
(Originally this category was called Best Art Direction, but was changed to its current name in 2012, for the 85th Academy Awards. Since 1947, the award has been shared with the set decorator.)