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From Hopper to Hitchcock: Artworks That Inspired Hollywood Classics


This Sunday, the favorite sons and daughters of Hollywood will gather at the glittering Dolby Theatre to receive the Academy’s highest honors. From Scarlett Johansson to Joaquin Phoenix, Saoirse Ronan and Brad Pitt, Sam Mendes and Martin Scorsese… every film lover will be watching the Oscars with their eyes glued to the screen. In this article, Singulart has compiled a selection of Oscar-winning film scenes that were directly inspired by famous works of art.

1.) Psycho (1960) by Alfred Hitchcock & House by the Railroad (1925) by Edward Hopper

Alfred Hitchcock lost out on an Oscar for his masterpiece Psycho in 1961 (Billy Wilder and The Apartment took home the trophies), but the film became a cult classic and has remained in the history books ever since. The house featured in one of the film’s most iconic scenes was inspired by Edward Hopper’s House by The Railroad (1925):

2.) Marie Antoinette (2006) by Sophia Coppola & Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1801) by Jacques-Louis David

At the 79th Academy Awards in 2007, Milena Canonero received the Oscar for costume design for Marie Antoinette (2006), directed by Sophia Coppola. A scene from the film will be familiar to many:

3.) The Revenant (2015) by Alejandro G. Iñárritu & Photograph of a pile of American bison skulls (1892 – Unknown)

The film, which earned Leonardo DiCaprio his first (and famously overdue!) Oscar in 2016, took inspiration for a dream sequence from a 19th-century photograph.

4.) Cabaret (1972) by Bob Fosse & Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926) by Otto Dix

Cabaret won eight Oscars at the 45th Academy Awards: from “Best Director” (Bob Fosse) to “Best Actress” (Liza Minnelli), “Best Supporting Actor” (Joel Gray) and “Best Sound” (Ralph Burns along with Robert Knudson and David Hildyard). One scene in particular was inspired by a painting by Otto Dix. You can see it today at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

5.) The Lighthouse (2019) by Robert Eggers, Hypnose (1904) by Sasha Schneider & Untitled (1888) by Jean Delville

The Lighthouse has been nominated for this year’s Oscars in the “Best Cinematography” category. Robert Eggers’ psychological horror film is as oppressive as it is fascinating. Two of its most impressive scenes were inspired by paintings and drawings. So as not to spoil the movie, we’ve only included the artworks that influenced Eggers – you’ll have to watch the movie to see which scenes they pop up in!

6.) Django Unchained (2012) by Quentin Tarantino & The Blue Boy (1770) by Thomas Gainsborough

Quentin Tarantino’s hit Django Unchained earned German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz his second Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor.” The film also won “Best Original Screenplay” in 2013. A shot of Jamie Foxx as Django looks surprisingly similar to an 18th century painting:

7.) Lost in Translation (2003) by Sofia Coppola & Jutta (1973) by John Kacere

Another film that won an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay” – this time in 2004 – was Lost in Translation. The film’s first scene depicts Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) lying on a bed. According to Sofia Coppola, this moment was inspired by a painting by John Kacere. See the resemblance:

8.) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) by George Miller & Los Elefantes (1948) by Salvador Dalí

In 2016, Mad Max: Fury Road won the most Oscars of any nominated film, with six awards handed to it. From costume design to sound mixing to production, both image and sound fascinated in this post-apocalyptic film. One scene in particular is very reminiscent of Dali’s world of visual wonders:

Did our article spark your interest in the link between art and film? Discover more works on Singulart that were inspired by cinema:

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