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Wednesday
Apr252018

April Foolish Predictions: Let's talk Cinematography!

by Nathaniel R

We didn't forget about the April Foolish Predictions. They just got all tangled up with Tribeca screenings, Cannes news, Avengers mania, and everything else going on in April. So herewith another prediction batch. First charts are now up for all of the visual categories, barring Costume Design which will get its own post tomorrow just because. 

 Cinematography is always one of the most exciting contests as there are so many genuinely gifted DPs out there doing great work over and over again but only one Oscar to hand out each year. At the moment I'm wondering about the futures of these four DPs in particular...

MATTHEW LIBATIQUE?
Early hype on A Star is Born is that it's at least beautiful to look at (Matthew Libatique behind the camera, so, duh!) and the singing was live rather than playback i.e. it's actual concert footage of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performing instead of just lipsyncing. Hence my bullishness on the sound and visual categories. A Star is Born has an unusual Oscar history in that it's been remade multiple times but Oscar doesn't seem to mind the do-overs. The 1930s version received 7 nominations including Best Picture and won two statues (screenplay plus an honorary). The 1950s version (aka Judy Garland is a genius. Repeat for eternity) had a similar fate with 6 nominations (though it sadly narrowly missed a Best Picture nod and a Best Actress win). The 1970s version was less critically lauded but still a big box office hit for Barbra Streisand and received 4 nominations, winning for Best Original Song. So... if we average them out can we predict 5 nominations and a single win for this one, haha? Or maybe 6 nominations including Best Picture since its so much easier to snag a BP nod now with so many extra nominations to go around. For what it's worth Libatique also shot Venom this year but that one won't be going anywhere near the Dolby. He's currently filming the feature adaptation of Native Son but we figure that one will be arriving in 2019. 

LINUS SANDGREN?
Sandgren won the Oscar for his highly theatrical lighting and lensing of La La Land. How soon will he be back for a second nomination? He's got two potential visual spectacles this year. Disney's expensive looking The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which is probably something to consider for visual nominations if it's a hit and critically well received, and the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man which reunites him with his La La Land director and chief camera subject Ryan Gosling. 

BENOÎT DEBIE?
This frankly amazing Belgian DP hasn't caught Oscar's eye yet but the chief reason for that is the kind of movies he makes. He's been shooting very avant garde and sometimes sexually explicit stuff like Spring Breakers, Enter the Void, Irreversible and Love. His most mainstream effort thus far (outside of the very mainstream land of music videos) was arguably his gorgeous work on the underappreciated rock biopic The Runaways with Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. This year he's shooting Jacques Audiard's first English language feature The Sisters Brothers. Audiard is one of the world's most exciting directors and Oscar voters have some familiarity with his work (given the awards runs of Rust & Bone and A Prophet). If Audiard succeeds in transferring to English language cinema with the help of a famous cast and an award-winning novel, perhaps Oscar will notice this particular effort? 

WHO IS THE NEXT RACHEL MORRISON?
Not that we're done with Rachel Morrison (Mudbound) mind you! But now that we've had our first female DP nominated in the cinematography category, we're curious who will continue her work in smashing down the walls of that particular boys club. Morrison herself shot Black Panther and if that film proves an Oscar behemoth she could return for a second consecutive nomination. Still, I have to admit I'm doubtful about its prospects in that particular category. We don't know yet what Morrison's next feature film will be (one assumes she's fielding many offers).

Charlotte Bruus Christensen

Charlotte Brus Christensen is certainly one to watch. She did a fine moody job on the current #1 movie  A Quiet Place though we think that film's best shot may lay in the sound categories. Nevertheless Christensen seems like a strong candidate for future Oscar glory in that her filmography is (to date) fairly Oscar friendly. Her best known previous work might be the Oscar ignored art house hit Far From the Madding Crowd but she's already lensed three previous films which were in the Oscar conversation to varying degrees: Molly's Game, the foreign film nominee The Hunt, and Best Picture nominee Fences. We also have high future hopes for Australia's Mandy Walker (Australia, Lantana, Tracks, Hidden Figures) but it looks like she'll be too busy with the huge get of Disney's Mulan to factor into the conversation for the next couple of years. French DP Caroline Champetier (Holy Motors, Of Gods and Men) is a big talent but she doesn't have anything high profile lined up at the moment. Maryse Alberti has done fine work in the past but in films Oscar voters were unfortunately a bit weirdly resistant to  (The Wrestler, Creed, and Velvet Goldmine) and this year she only has Chappaquiddick which just isn't high profile or acclaimed enough. Natasha Braier did incredible work on the polarizing Neon Demon recently and she might actually be worth keeping an eye on for a nomination this year IF the remake of Gloria from Sebastian Lelio feels essential. We wish Amy Vincent (Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan) and Ellen Kuras (A Little Chaos, Eternal Sunshine) would get more Director of Photography work on features but but we'll have to wait and see.  Reed Morano has won praise, too, for her gifts behind the camera but you can count her out. Why? Well, Oscar's cinematography branch never goes for directors who shoot their own stuff. Not even for giants like Paul Thomas Anderson or Steven Soderbergh. It cuts into their employment opportunities!

Which cinematographers are you keeping an eye on?

Click away to see our foolish early guesswork on Visual Effects, Makeup, Film Editing, Production Design, and Cinematography.

 

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Reader Comments (16)

Did A Star is Born and GaGa become legit Oscar contenders after the teaser footage u think.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

There's a fake "official trailer" on YouTube, but the real one doesn't seem to have hit the Webz yet. I'm hopeful.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

forever1267: The on paper elements here aren't really the stuff of "good movie", though. Six credited writers, one of them THE LEAD ACTOR (who hasn't written before), a BIG scale for a directorial debut and a fading desperate star that directors seemingly don't really want to work with, all of those being the same person. The "markers" here all SCREAM "egotistical dud" and I'd be amazed if that WASN'T an apt summary.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

God I hope Gaga is great in A Star is Born. Also, is anyone else getting Get Out vibes from A Quiet Place?

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Volvagua, in what world is Bradley Cooper a fading desperate star?

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

I'm assuming Volvagia means Lady Gaga, who definitely does need to be this to be a hit (even if she probably won't be a pop star again (*eyeroll at Corporate America). Bradley has stated he was drawn and inspired by the project, so if it's a passion for him, and she puts her passion into everything, this should at the very least be a Crowd Pleaser.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I am rooting hard for A Star Is Born - partly because I like Gaga and Bradley, and partly because it will be so fun to see it anger certain people when it succeeds.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne - lol. It definitely is the type of project that will get hatred even if it's great from some corners. Welcome to where all musicals and all films starring pop divas reside.

April 25, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Black Panther does not deserve a VFX nomination and if that branch has its way expect it to miss out. The VFX were some of the worst Marvel has put forth.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

Tr -- remember when people complained about the rubberiness of spider-man in 2002? and it landed a nomination because the film was so beloved/popular at that moment. I'm expecting the same here though I agree with you that it has some off moments. By contrast there's only one moment in Infinity War that looks a little shoddy but the rest is crazy good vfx work.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I can't believe people cried at The Star is Born trailer. I am sticking to the early turkey October release. GaGa is a Pia Zadora.

April 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJono

The green on that MOWGLI poster is divine - and that font! I think buzz is quiet, however, because we literally had one of these CGI Jungle Books two years ago and it was a huge hit so this feels strange.

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Benoît Debie is Belgian ;) He graduated from IAD Brussels.

This is a great list! Regarding female DPs, I'm also hopeful for Eponine Momenceau, whose first feature (!) was Jacques Audiard's Palme d'Or "Dheepan".

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Nathaniel - Not to mention, it's a musical starring a pop diva directed by and starring one of Hollywood's prettiest men!

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Knowing that the singing is live in A Star Is Born just amped this movie's Oscar potential to exciting heights. Gaga is one of the great live performers, right up there with Judy and Liza. Even if the movie fails artistically, it will endure as a great document: There needs to be a movie that will preserve this wonderful legacy.

And if her acting comes through--yet another new chapter in the Gagagrophy.

April 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Imagining Libatique channeling Zsigmond a la THE ROSE and lighting a prayer candle.

April 26, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

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