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« Soundtracking: "I, Tonya" | Main | FYC: Five Best Documentary Tech Achievements of 2017 »
Wednesday
Jan102018

13 days until Oscar nominations... Can Roger Deakins win with a 14th nod?

by Nathaniel R

the great Roger Deakins on set

Is 13 an unlucky number? Not particular with Oscar, no, but Roger Deakins is surely anxious to move beyond it. The 68 year old cinematographer is still hugely in demand and a regular Oscar competitor but he's currently sitting at 13 nominations and STILL has no statues to show for it. Will #14 prove lucky should he be nominated for Blade Runner 2049 this year (as is widely expected)? His nominated film list is just one beautiful astonishment after another: The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country For Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Reader, True Grit, Skyfall, Prisoners, Unbroken, Sicario. His filmography also includes films like Thunderheart, The Secret Garden, Barton Fink, and Sid & Nancy. Will he win on March 4th or will someone else steal his thunder yet again at the last moment...

His chief competition this year might come from the fantasy The Shape of Water or the air, land, and sea war drama Dunkirk but we'll have to wait until nomination morning to know exactly who will compete for that particular statue. 

The craft categories aren't as high profile and are thus rarely decided by "narrative" so being overdue for a statue doesn't carry much weight when the larger Academy is voting. In fact they don't see your name at all when they vote -- just your film title. For a craftsperon to win they have to have the right combo of "popular film," "attractive achievement within that film," the intangible feeling of "here's a good place to award said film" and maybe a little "perceived somehow to have weak competition" boost. Somehow Deakins has never quite managed that combo despite a resume that's shockingly overqualified for a shelf full of golden boys.

Most people who venture into double digit nominations have an Oscar to show for it but not everyone. I found one person, another cinematographer in fact, who corralled exactly 13 nominations in his career without a win. A man by the name of George J Folsey (Cinematographer).

Folsey's nominations were spread across 30 years from Reunion in Vienna (1933) through to The Balcony (1963) and with both that first and that last nomination it was the only honor the film received. It's extremely difficult to win a craft prize when your your film's only nod. He helped pioneer glamour lighting, softening lighting on the stars in closeups and was equally at home in glorious color or expressive B&W. Folsey's best shot at a win surely came from one of his double nominated years (the cinematography category used to be split into black & white and color fields). He was up for both prizes in 1944 for the drama The White Cliffs of Dover and the musical Meet Me in St Louis and managed the same double nomination trick again in 1954 for the drama Executive Suite and the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Like Deakins (to date at least) he was never able to manage the winning combination. A real pity because how does Meet me in St Louis not win you Oscars ?!? Especially when its competitors weren't half as beautiful? Folsey was actually the first men honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers though the award unfortunately came after his death. 

More #13 trivia? Sure!

They received 13 nominations exactly in their careers but all of them won at least one trophy
PAUL S FOX (Set Decorator) 13 nominations and 3 wins
HENRY GRACE (Set Decorator) 13 nominations and 1 win
GEORGE JAMES HOPKINS (Set Decorator) 13 nominations and 4 wins 
HUGH HUNT (Set Decorator) 13 nominations and 2 wins
STANLEY KUBRICK (Writer/Director/Producer) 13 nominations and 1 win
MICHEL LEGRAND (Composer) 13 nominations and 3 wins
ANDRE PREVIN (Composer) 13 nominations and 4 wins

Meryl Streep is the only actor to receive 13 nominations (her nearest rivals Jack Nicholson and Katharine Hepburn quitting with 12 each) but that happened a long time ago now (with Adaptation in 2002) and The Post, might prove to be her 21st nod, unless those SAG and BAFTA misses were telling. 

Next to 13?
It's possible I missed someone though I try to be thorough in research. Next up to (maybe) join the rarified 13 nominations club is the costume designer SANDY POWELL. She's at 12 nominations (and 3 wins) but she is an outside possibility again this season for Todd Haynes's exquisitely crafted kids at the museum drama Wonderstruck

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Reader Comments (24)

When he didn't win for True Grit (which boasted that combo of "popular film," "attractive achievement within that film," and "here's a good place to award said film"), I resigned myself to the fact that Deakins is cursed and will never win an Oscar.

I see no reason to change that prediction now. Winning this category without a Best Picture nomination is a rarity in this day and age, and I can't see Blade Runner 2049 sneaking into the Academy's top eight-or-nine. I'm thinking Dunkirk takes this one.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterN8

If that "Toni Erdmann" remake is any good, Jack Nicholson could score a 13th nomination next year (I think).

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

"In fact they don't see your name at all when they vote -- just your film title."

I didn't know that! That's huge! (and a little bit enraging)

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I have no explanation for those 5 Oscars that "Wilson" won.

IF Roger Deakins wins this year (please), I'd see a sad irony in the fact that there have been complaints for the last several years about how Best Cinematography has become a de facto Best Visual Effects category, and Chivo and Deakins would both have had to do exactly that to win their Oscars.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

Peggy Sue-that was news to me too!

Nathaniel-do you know which categories they do list the names of the nominees? Is it just acting, or are writing/directing included too?

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

George J Folsey: you could honor him with a Hit me with your best shot entry.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I think I might lose it if he doesn't win this year.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrittani

Off-Topic: This whole Greta Gerwig needs to whip herself in a public square for working with Woody Allen is REPULSIVE.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Deakins' recent nods haven't lined up with Best Picture, surely as you have said an obstacle to the win. Maybe the Oscar gods will smile on Blade Runner and beam it into the Best Picture race. Which it deserves.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

He MUST win this year. Damn Blade Runner 2049 basically got made only for Deakins to get an Oscar. Cause god forbid it sure aint gonna be three billboards lmao

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I suspect both THE SHAPE OF WATER and DUNKIRK are ahead of BLADE RUNNER 2049 in Cinematography. For my money, he should've triumphed for all of SHAWSHANK, KUNDUN and THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

His filmography is astounding. One of my favorites is The Secret Garden. It is gorgeous, but a kid's movie -- even one as expertly crafted as The Secret Garden -- is a tough sell for the academy. But go back and watch it; it is sublime.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCash

I still recall being flabbergasted at those shots in Shanghai in the high rise apartment in "Skyfall". He is arguably the most overdue person in Hollywood!

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

He should had won for The Shawshank Redemption and had been nominated and won for Barton Fink but imo his best works are No country for old men and Jesse James in 2007. Hard to argue with There will be Blood winning that year tough. Btw, that 2007 category (+ atonement and The diving bell) was the best set of oscar nominees ever

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLSS

I think Deakins should have won for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Skyfall. Much as I really like Life of Pi, I felt that Skyfall was a singular achievement. No other film looks quite like it. I haven't seen Blade Runner 2049 yet but Deakins' work is what I'm looking forward to seeing it for the most.

George Folsey Jr. had quite a year in 1954 - both Executive Suite and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are very impressive, and in very different styles: one boardroom-sombre black and white, the other colourful and full of out-of-doors atmosphere (all the more impressive in that almost sll the film was shot in the studio).

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I hope he finally wins. After Lubezki, he is my second favorite cinematographer.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBF

5 nominations for working with the Coen Brothers (where, IMO, he's usually at his best) and he still missed out on a nomination for my favorite of their collaborations, A Serious Man (I would have awarded him for that one, no doubt). Of his actual nominations, I would have awarded him for Fargo (even though The English Patient is a pretty decent winner) and The Shawshank Redemption (the year of True Grit I would have gone with Matthew Libatique for Black Swan, though both were terrific choices and Inception, while not my favorite, was a decent pick).

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

He should have won for "The Assassination of Jesse James..." or "No Country for Old Men" but probably split votes that year. I thought he would win for "True Grit" or "Skyfall," but the Oscar gods were against him. If he doesn't win this year then one could argue that there is an Oscar contingent that just doesn't like him. He's won 3 ASC awards but no Oscar. Seems strange.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

He's arguably had that combo several times already and still lost. Most clearly with The Shawshank Redemption (one of the 6 times a non-BP nominee defeated a BP nominee) and True Grit! Even if his most recent nods have been for less popular films. This year won't be his with two major tech juggernauts on the horizon, both visually pleasing.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

The way Skyfall's climax is lit - the chase across the moors, with the burning house providing a fiery glow - is astonishing. That Deakins lost to a film where the beauty shots were composed in a computer is a tragedy.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Scott: It's not as simple a distinction as that. Deakins himself has explained how he used digital manipulations in post on Skyfall. It's not as though his images are untouched by computer. That said, as Life of Pi was well on course to win the Visual Effects Oscar, it would have been a nice split to give Skyfall the Cinematography Oscar.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Scott & Edward L.: Except almost every movie (probably north of 90% (50% in 2005, 70% in 2007, and Skyfall was 2012) at the time Skyfall was made) does at least some of that kind of digital touchup these days. I'd split it, but into "Cinematography in a CGI Driven Picture" and "Cinematography in a NON CGI Driven Picture". Each has different practical considerations AND aesthetic limits that they're working with, probably bigger differences than the ones between B&W and Colour. Would the former usually dove tail with the VFX winner? Probably, if the VFX winner was in a VFX heavy picture, but I'd kind of hope not. Let's guess 2015 and 2016.

2015 CGI Driven:

John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road (WINNER.)
Bill Pope, Ant-Man
Dan Mindel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ben Davis, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Seamus McGarvey and John Mathieson, Pan
(Note: I'd consider 3/5 VFX nominees this year not quite eligible. The Martian, The Revenant and Ex Machina aren't quite what I was thinking of. Good on them, that year.)

2015 Non CGI Driven:

Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Danny Cohen, Room
Roger Deakins, Sicario
Edward Lachmann, Carol
Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight

2016 CGI Driven:

Ben Davis, Doctor Strange
Greig Frasier, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Trent Opaloch, Captain America: Civil War
Bradford Young, Arrival
Janusz Kaminski, The BFG

2016 Non CGI Driven:

Linus Sandgren, La La Land
Greig Fraser, Lion
James Laxton, Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
Giles Nuttgens, Hell or High Water

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

The best thing about the endless boring "Blade Runner: It's Too Late For a Sequel Who Cares" was the stunning cinematography

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Jaragon: Hey, it was 30 years between Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road. Long waits between follow-ups aren't bad if we get something out of it. The biggest problem with Blade Runner 2049? It greedily embraces every greasy detail of the Sci-Fi Underclass Rebellion cliche with both hands and...wait, if that's the movie you wanted to make, why is it a sequel to BLADE RUNNER? I mean, its not the WORST thing that's been done to a Ridley Scott sci-fi movie, this year. No, Ridley actually left THAT task to himself. But neither Blade Runner 2049 or Alien: Covenant really "needed" to happen.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

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