Jeannine Oppewall grew up near Boston and moved to Los Angeles after college to work with the Office of Charles and Ray Eames; at that time the Eames Office was the pre-eminent design team of the United States, known for their furniture design, exhibition design and their many small personal films. Jeannine learned design at the feet of the master, so to speak.
After leaving the Eames Office, she worked briefly producing radio documentaries and doing some freelance writing, eventually finding a place in the art department of the motion picture business, working for production designers Paul Sylbert and Ferdinando Scarfiotti.
The first film Jeannine designed was Tender Mercies, starring Robert Duval and directed by Bruce Beresford. She has received Academy Award nominations for LA Confidential, directed by Curtis Hansen; Pleasantville and Seabiscuit, both directed by Gary Ross, and The Good Shepherd, directed by Bob DeNiro. Other films for which she is known are Catch Me if You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg, for which she received an Art Directors Guild award in 2003; The Bridges of Madison County, directed by Clint Eastwood; and The Music Box, directed by Costa Gavras.
She spent 9 years on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and many more years serving on various AMPAS committees, among them the Foreign Language Film Committee. In 2014 she received the Camerimage award given to a production designer “with unique visual sensitivity,” and in 2019 a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Directors Guild. Jeannine has given numerous lectures over the years at such institutions as the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, The University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, and the International Film and Television School in Havana, Cuba.