Editor’s note: Welcome to the twenty-second of a multi-part series (just one more remains!) dissecting the 2008 Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every weekday leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category (or more) of the Oscars (there are 24 in all). To read any other posts regarding this event, please just click on the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Nick of Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob.
A lot has changed since I wrote the much insulted Art Direction installation of LAMB Devours the Oscars. This time around, I’ve actually seen 4 of the 5 nominations, and I actually know what the hell cinematography is, unlike I did with Art Direction. To put it simply, cinematography is how we see the movie, visually speaking (as opposed to metaphorically). It goes from the lenses used to how pretty the movie looks in the end, how the scene was shot, where the camera was placed, how the lighting worked, and, above all, how breathtaking it was while we watched it. So here are the nominees: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood.
First I suppose I’ll discuss Jesse James. This is very simple, really: Jesse James is pure cinematography. This movie was made simply to win this award, as far as I’m concerned. Nearly every shot in the movie feels like a work of art, from how it was lit, to the camera passing through the plants, to just about anything visual in the entire movie, honestly. If the Oscar people know what the heck they’re doing and weren’t bribed otherwise, Jesse James is a sure-fire win.
However, if any movie would give Jesse James a run for the gold, it would be Atonement. The movie was beautiful in its own right, and it really played with lighting quite a bit. I felt that after the first half of the movie, though, it starts to become more selective on the great cinematography scenes. But it comes back hard with the nearly five minute continuous shot on the beach. Those kinds of shots alone are difficult to pull off, especially when a lot of things are happening during it.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the one movie on this list that I have yet to see, though I want to, as the concept sounds amazing. So, unfortunately, I had to try and get something out of the movie trailer. During the first half, from what I saw, I began wondering why this was nominated for this category. However, the second half of the trailer blew me away as I realized exactly why it was nominated. Though I still don’t believe it can contend with Jesse James.
Next on the list is No Country For Old Men. This was a great movie (up until the ending, but that’s no relevance to this category). It surely had some amazing camera choices, as well as some great shots to look at. But while this movie might run through the Oscars like a bandit, I don’t see how it could beat out either of the first two movies on this list for this category.
Finally, we have There Will Be Blood. Similar to No Country, this movie is great, but doesn’t quite cut it for this category. It has some amazing shots and great camera work and lighting, but I still don’t think it’s up to par with Jesse James for cinematography.
So in the end, it’s quite obvious who I think the winner should be. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, while it might not have the strengths that No Country or Blood might have, it sure makes up for it visually. So if I were to guess the order that these might be placed if I were to line them up from most to least probable winner, it might look something like the following:
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
3. There Will Be Blood
4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
5. No Country For Old Men
But that’s just my opinion, after all.