With just a little more than a week away until the 2015 Oscars, all eyes are on the Academy for the long awaited night. I look forward to the telecast every year, and like many of my film enthusiast friends, fill out an Oscar ballot for some lighthearted competition. Now, it’s not all about the awards (we wouldn’t survive in this business if it was) but nevertheless, we sit and watch to see who will be awarded the little Oscar Statuette.
Favorite to win this year is Emmanuel Lubezki, or more affectionately known as “Chivo”, for his sensational work in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Lubezki has already won the BAFTA for Best Cinematography and if he walks away with the ASC Award this Sunday, then he will definitely be the top contender for the Academy Award. Already one of the most sought after cinematographers this past decade, winning two Oscars in a row will push his demand even further (he won the 2014 Oscar for his work in Gravity). Not bad Chivo, not bad.
Robert Yeoman has worked on every single live action feature length film directed by Wes Anderson. You could say the two are joined at the hip and undoubtedly have a style of their own. This dynamic duo certainly produces masterfully crafted moving images, filled with pops of color, unique lens choice, and brilliant camera movement; and we cannot forget the three different aspect ratios of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Surprisingly, Yeoman has never been nominated for an Oscar until this year. About time the Academy recognizes him for his work.
The Academy is no stranger to nominating collaborating DPs for their work on a single film, the first being Charles Rosher and Karl Struss in 1928 and the most recent being Roger Deakins and Chris Menges in 2008. Cinematographers Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski are both up for their first Academy Award nomination for their work on the Polish film Ida. Shot on the Alexa originally in color and later transformed into black-and-white in post, Ida has swept both critics and audiences for its beautiful contrast images. Currently on Netflix so you can catch it before the broadcast.
Best known for his work on The Illusionist, which he was nominated for in 2007, Dick Pope returns to the Academy Awards ballot with Mr. Turner. He’s been highly praised for bringing Turner’s paintings to life by adding the same type of composition and color palette the artist used in his day. For decades, cinematographers have studied how great painters use light and color to mimic reality. In this film, Pope literally blends both these formats masterfully, making the transition smooth and deliberate.
Fun fact about Roger Deakins: He was been nominated for an Academy Award a total of 12 times, twice in 2007, but has never won. A reminder that awards doesn’t make one’s career. Deakins is one of the most respected cinematographers in the business, continuously called upon for his reliability to deliver high quality work. Unbroken is no different. Deakins is no stranger to period pieces, therefore seamlessly executes this film with both grit and class.
All immensely talented and deserving, these cinematographers inspire, delight, and entertain the mass audience. With the continuous changes in our field and the ongoing debate between digital/film, it’s certainly interesting to see how the Academy regards the category of cinematography each year.