Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Art and Design

First Advisor

Jennifer Courts

Advisor Department

Art and Design


When the public considers different art forms such as painting, drawing and sculpture, it is easy to understand the common elements that unite them. Each is a non-moving art form that begins at the drawing board. Using line, color and shape to evoke a particular response from audiences is what ties these fine arts together. Graphic design, however, tends to separate itself from the fine arts. Because of its later development in the art world, as well as, its operation within modern technological developments, graphic design is driven by the idea of communicating to large audiences. In this way, although design finds its base in fine art practices, it is more easily related to filmmaking in many aspects.

Both graphic design and filmmaking are particularly unique in respect to their reliance on technological innovation, communication and public consumption. Even though the mediums operate in different manners, it is important to note that they share basic design principles such as color, composition and image systems. These elements of design help build a solid foundation for a successful piece of design or film.

The research discussed in this paper critically analyzes how design principles are incorporated into the 2015 Best Picture Oscar Nominees. By examining the aforementioned design elements, color, composition and image systems, I was able to break down the visual meaning of each film according to the use of these elements. All of the nominees were successful in their own aspect, however the more experimental the design of the film, the more effective the communication of their respective narratives.