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Entries in Cinematography (204)

Thursday
Jan282016

Personal Ballots Cont'd: Best Cinematography & Production Design

We're almost done with the Oscar Correlative categories in the Film Bitch Awards. Then it's on to the silly & fun but still seriously chosen "extra" categories. Here are my choices for the best men behind the camera (always men. sigh) and the men and women designing and decorating those sets and the film's overall visual palette for your eye-candy pleasure. 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The big Oscar question this year is "Can Emmanuel Lubezki" win a third consecutive Oscar for The Revenant. He's dominated the category the past two years with Gravity (2013) and Birdman (2014). It won't be the longest consecutive winning streak ever -- that belongs to Walt Disney who won consistently in short film categories for seemingly ever in the early days of Oscar -- but it will be the single longest streak in modern history if he pulls it off. But the category already has something for the record books: With his 13th nomination Roger Deakins Sicario moves into a tie for 5th place for All Time Most Celebrated Cinematographer. He's now sharing the honor with George J. Folsey (Meet Me in St. Louis) who also never won an Oscar. Everyone higher on the list won the Oscar once or multiple times, all four of them; It's rarified air they're breathing. 

Deakins makes my own personal ballot this year but Lubezki just barely misses (I was more impressed with his work on The New World which also went all natural light on the frontier) because I had to make room for the emotionally expressive and flexible light of Phoenix (courtesy of Hans Fromm) and the jaw-dropping 'how'd they do that?' camerawork on Germany's Victoria. On the latter film the director was so impressed he gave DP Sturla Brandth Grølven billing above his own! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
We've already discussed the stupendous achievements in this category by Ethan Tobman on Room and Judy Becker on Carol so no need to rehash other than 'what is with Oscar sometimes. How could they ignore them?' Oscar voters have an anything goes choice in this category, though. If they don't just check off Mad Max Fury Road in most of the craft categories it's easy to imagine any of the films as winners, don'cha think?

Finally I wanted to give a shout out briefly to Thomas E Sanders work on Crimson Peak which the Academy also passed on. The movie has a lot of problems -- Guillermo del Toro can't seem to stay out of his own way with so much gilding of every gothic lily -- but Allerdale Hall is wonderfully decayed and oppressively decorative and all around drafty and decadent. And those vats in the basement! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  

Sunday
Jan172016

Podcast: Which way will Best Picture & Best Director go? 

Joe, Nick, Katey and Nathaniel gather themselves for their first post-Oscar nomination discussion of the new year. Today, directors, pictures, and a discussion of Oscar's diversity problem. Please join in the conversation in the comments.

40 minutes 
00:01 Intro & Phoenix (for no apparent reason)
02:25 Bridge of Spies and Oscar tastes
04:30 Straight Outta Compton, Creed and Oscar's Diversification Initiatives
18:00 Cinematography and insular Oscar clubs
25:00 Mad Max vs The Martian vs The Revenant... is that good news for Spotlight?  
30;00 The Big Short, Screenplays, Precursors and Early Signs
33:00 Ridley Scott. Who gets Best Director now?

Related Reading For Context:
Joe's 20 Actors of Color List
Nathaniel's #OscarsSoWhite Article
Ridley Scott on "Little Gold Men"
The Revenant's Production Design & Costume Design 
Best Picture Chart 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes soon

Oscar Nomination Reactions - Picture/Director

Wednesday
Jan062016

ASC Nominations for Best Cinematography & Adjacent Oscar Histories

John Seale and George Miller on the set of Mad Max Fury Road. Two 70somethings showing everyone how its done. The American Society of Cinemotagraphers have voted on the best of 2015's theatrical features. It's a year that can only be described as a filthy rich in terms of this artform. One only has to peruse the work of lower profile contenders that didn't make it to feel staggered by the abundance of worthy creative work being done in the field. 

But the rising talents -- and even some of the older giants -- in this arguable new golden age of the artform will have to wait another year for ASC and possibly Oscar honors. The guild went with a murderer's row of international legends this year. The ASC Nominees hail from five different countries (UK, Poland, Mexico, their average age is 62½  and between them they've amassed 31 Oscar nominations, 5 Oscar statues, 8 BAFTAs, and 5 Spirit Awards. That's a whole lotta statuary honoring their influential careers. 

Cinematography history and more on the nominees after the jump...  

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec272015

Haskell Wexler, 1922 - 2015

David here. As time runs out on 2015, the world sees the loss of another cinematic great. Cinematographer Haskell Wexler, double Oscar winner, passed away today. [More...]

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Tuesday
Dec222015

"Carol" Week: An Evening with Cinematographer Ed Lachman

Kieran, here wishing everyone a very happy Carol week.  If ever there was a film that truly deserved an entire week dedicated to celebrating it, it’s Todd Haynes’ sumptuous cinematic buffet. The film is a rare animal in the landscape in that it truly feels like every element of its filmmaking works cohesively in service of the overall vision. That was apparent on a re-watch last Friday evening in Los Angeles and even more so afterwards listening to cinematographer Edward Lachman talk to the audience about the process of finding the appropriate look for it after the screening.

“Todd always does great research before every film,” one of the many moments of him singing his director’s praises.  “One of the greatest mandates was making sure it didn’t resemble Far From Heaven,” Lachman stated.  [More...]

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Wednesday
Dec162015

Cinematography Outsiders

The creative leaps forward we've been seeing in the past decade have been staggering with our prominent cinematographers constantly developing new ways to experiment with visual storytelling and reinventing old tricks. Each year we also get exciting new voices added to the fray, but the Academy's cinematography branch has been reticent to include such future legends as Bradford Young and Greg Fraser.

This year is no different, with the heavyweight directors of photography set to dominate the category once again. Previous winners and perenial nominees Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant), Robert Richardson (the 70MM UltraPanivision The Hateful Eight), Janusz Kaminski (Bridge of Spies) and John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road) are all possible candidates, with the still Oscar-less Roger Deakins (pictured above, Sicario) is always a threat. Our likeliest first-time nominee Edward Lachman for Carol is an example of how hard it can be to break through while delivering brilliant work.

But why so exclusive? This isn't a category that hugs close to the Best Picture lineup typically, and while they've rewarded creative risks, it is typically for a seasoned vet rather than a fresh voice. None of this is meant to diss these veteran artists - they're the elite for a reason. However, here are some non-frontrunner candidates worthy of more discussion:

Creed - Maryse Alberti

While the ballyhooed single take shot is a perfect example of the furious energy Alberti visually brings to key story moments, it's the more subtextual moments that shine - like the shot above or Adonis shadowboxing to stock footage of his father. Her work here is like a less taxing companion to what she did with The Wrestler, but just as potent. With female cinematographers unrecognized by the branch, I dare you to see her work and claim that the lack of female nominees is because there are no worthy candidates.

Click to read more ...