Oscar Artist Spotlight: Magnus Voll Mathiassen's Movie Picks
Magnus Voll Mathiassen
Magnus Voll Mathiassen

Norwegian graphic designer and illustrator Magnus Voll Mathiassen is one of seven international artists picked to re-envision Oscar this year.

Known professionally as MVM, he founded his namesake studio in 2009, through which he’s worked with a slew of international brands, from Adidas and Microsoft to Sephora and Sony. His love of portraiture extends to his deep appreciation of movies and the portraits they paint of characters and places.

Related: The 7 Artists Reinterpreting Oscar

“I see movies and movie fans as an interconnected being,” he says. “This ecosystem of you and me and the film industry—a complex patchwork—is connected on all organism where magic flows through its system.”

He interprets the Oscar statuette as he would a portrait of a person, with bold colors tracing and illuminating its silhouette. Watching movies as an artist means he often finds himself excited about photography and composition, though he tries to avoid pointing these things out to his viewing companions during the film.

Lately, he’s been “chasing a specific nostalgia” and watching movies from the 1970s and ’80s (as his list of favorites reflects). “I have been outspoken about wanting newness in art, not looking back at the bygone era,” he says. “And here I am doing just that and thoroughly enjoying myself and thinking everything was cooler before.”

Here are Mathiassen's top picks for the movies that most inspired him.

Blade Runner

I don’t have any idea how many times I’ve watched Ridley Scott’s vision of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, specifically The Final Cut from 2007. Blade Runner is an example of an ultimate Venn diagram—the actors, the director, the special effects department, the set designers, the art department and not least the composer Vangelis met at the perfect time. The planets were perfectly aligned. This gritty, futuristic noir has become part of my DNA, to my friends’ amusement. It has become a close friend over time, so joke’s on them. To this day I haven’t encountered a film with a visual universe so beautifully depicted, and almost 40 years have passed since it premiered.

The Conversation
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I must have seen this film at an early age, because when I rediscovered it in my early 20s, it felt like a long-lost gem, much like All the President’s Men. Though The Conversation is much more sinister, as we watch Gene Hackman’s obsession and darkness slowly, slowly evolve. What I truly enjoy and cherish about many films from the ’70s is that the directors were given space to tell the story and put the dialogue on center stage.

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Alfred Hitchcock revolutionized the film industry with Rope, with its long shots and placed in a single apartment. Like Lars von Trier’s Dogville, it is intimate and naked, and it pulls you in. The reasoning for putting Rope before Vertigo or another suspense [film] by Hitchcock isn’t complicated, it’s just that when I am really relaxed, or the opposite, have had a stressful day, walking and talking heads work. And you have a director that brilliantly places cruelty in front of you, a solid display of upper-class superiority and darkness, which unfortunately is based on a real life event. It’s a theater play for your home.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
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Profondo Rosso and Suspiria should be the top picks out of director Dario Argento’s filmography, but this is the one I rewatch, mainly because of the murder in the art gallery scene. Not the murder itself, but the physical space, the interior and the exterior shots. Extremely modernist, extremely Italian, extremely chic. It is both beautiful and cold. The film is a showcase of Italian elegance viewed through giallo glasses.

Altered States
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After seeing William Hurt in this body-horror, psychedelic, religion-hallucinating fever dream of a film, I started noticing him and his work. There is something about his body of work that depicts normality and an underlying despair and excitement, empathy and intelligence, always bringing out brilliant performances in his catalog of work. The movie deals with a range of intertwining themes and a range of special effects. It might feel dated, but it has that charm I need to revisit now and then.

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The score by Philip Glass doesn’t just emphasize and set the mood for the grand shots, but works as a storyteller. This is a story about globalization and mankind. It was an omen of what was to come, and what eventually became. Today this work is a relic, a bygone era of optimism and concerns, and no longer a documentary, but a document of what was, and what might never be.

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A board game turned into a film is a bad premise, but Clue is a masterpiece of silliness. Clue and Murder by Death go hand in hand, so those two films should be watched back to back. There's not much more to elaborate on. It’s pure, unadulterated fun. 

Don't forget: The 2021 Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25th at 8 pm ET.  Watch it live on ABC or go to and log in with your TV provider. 

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