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.