Friday, April 2, 2010

One Category at a Time: Best Cinematography

Always my favourite category, even if it has been a while since the Academy got it absolutely right. I must say that I'm particularly excited this year because three of my favourite (and currently Oscar-less) DPs have some awards-friendly movies coming out.

One such favourite is the incomparable Roger Deakins, whose o/8 Oscar record is nothing short of offensive. Surely the Academy can't ignore this genius forever? Hopefully he'll get some attention for the Coen bros.' remake of True Grit. The last Western Deakins shot is arguably the cinematographic achievement of the decade, and the genre affords DPs lots of sweeping vistas and pretty outdoor locations. I'm rooting for him hard this year. He needs an Oscar. Now.

But my allegiance is torn, for another two of my favourite overdue DPs are in the mix; Wally Pfister for Inception and Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life, both of them collaborating with directors on whose previous films they received nominations. Pfister is certainly on a hot streak, copping nominations for three consecutive Christopher Nolan films, including The Dark Knight, for which he should have won. The Inception trailer looks astounding, and if it's in play for Best Picture, I'd expect Pfister to be nominated as well. The same goes for Lubezki, robbed for Children of Men, who will be lensing Terrance Malick's The Tree of Life. Without knowing what the film is really about makes it hard to conceive why Lubezki should stand a chance, but his last collaboration with Mallick (the gorgeous The New World) saw him nominated even though the film itself was largely ignored.

Two other DP/director matchups that have led to Oscar attention before include John Mathieson/Ridley Scott (Gladiator), in the mix this year for Robin Hood, and Russell Boyd/Peter Weir (Master and Commander), in the mix for The Way Back. They could be Oscar-friendly films with epic scope, which often causes voters to take note of the visuals.

I don't think it likely that all (or most) of these will actually make it to the final five. There's always a White Ribbon or a Changeling waiting to surprise us, but as far as year-in-advance predictions go, you could do worse than these five.

Predicted five:
Robin Hood
The Tree fo Life
True Grit
The Way Back

Also consider: Rodrigo Prieto for Biutiful, Hoyte van Hoytema for The Fighter, Eduardo Serra for Harry Potter, Robert Richardson for Shutter Island.

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