Editor’s note: This is part of a 32-part series dissecting the 85th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Ryan Fernand of Lord Of The Films
Best Cinematography is always one of my favorite categories at the Academy Awards. It’s great to see DPs rewarded for their work as they add so much to the visual style of each film. While the Academy voters could always do better than the batch of nominees we get every year (for instance, where is The Master?), I think we got a set of nominees this year that offered a lot to their respective films.
The first nominee from this year is Seamus McGarvey for his work on Anna Karenina. This is McGarvey’s second nomination. His first also came from a Joe Wright directed film, Atonement. McGarvey does a masterful job in Anna Karenina of composing some really great shots despite the fact he is limited to one set for large portions of the film. There is so much going on in Anna Karenina (both from a story and technical standpoint) that it is easy for McGarvey’s work to get lost in the fold, but his work is impressive nonetheless.
This year’s second nominee is Robert Richardson for his work on Django Unchained. Richardson is an Oscar perennial. This is his eighth nomination and he has already won three Oscars. One of those Oscars was for his work on Hugo (making him the defending champion in this category). Since the western genre is so picturesque, it is quite shocking to learn that this is Richardson’s first adventure into the genre. Of course he seems like a natural as he deftly works with Quentin Tarantino in trying to capture his vision of the new mixed with the old. Richardson tries many techniques and for the most part they work (the best of which involves a flashback sequence).
The next nominee from this year is Claudio Miranda for his work on Life of Pi. This is Miranda’s second Oscar nomination having previously been nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Miranda has made a name for himself as one of the go-to cinematographers for big and CGI-heavy projects. He seems like the perfect fit on Life of Pi as the film turns out to be one of the most picturesque of the year. Sure you can say that there is so much CGI in the film that Miranda’s work might be limited. However, you would have to think that combining the lighting and other elements between the CGI shots and the live-action shots makes for a lot more work than a cinematographer doing just a live-action film.
The fourth nominee from this year is another Oscar perennial (and another nominee from last year’s crop): Janusz Kaminski. Kaminski is known for his collaborations with Steven Spielberg. So considering Lincoln was one of Spielberg’s most successful films to date it was probably a no brainer that Kaminski would show up as a nominee for the film. This is Kaminski’s 6th Oscar nomination. He has won twice before (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan). Kaminski does a great job of bringing the sometimes dull and dark corners of D.C. buildings to life in this film, and that alone is worthy of Oscar attention.
The final nominee from this year is Roger Deakins for Skyfall. The combination of Deakins and James Bond showing up at the Oscars is quite a surprising one as both have had some bad luck with the Oscars. Despite Skyfall being the 23rd installment in the James Bond franchise, the film series has only won two Oscars to date. Meanwhile, Roger Deakins has been nominated for an Oscar ten times (when you include Skyfall), but has never won (making him one of Oscars biggest losers). All this bad luck doesn’t make Deakins work on the film undeserving though. Far from it. This is one of the most beautifully shot blockbusters ever. In a just world, Deakins would win the Oscar for the Shanghai sequence alone (the darkness has never been so intense).
Personally, I will be rooting for Deakins to finally win the Oscar, and he certainly has a chance to actually go home with it. However, the safe bet for the Oscar in this category is Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi. Since the entire Academy membership votes on the final winners and Life of Pi was one of the nomination leaders (with 11), you would have to think a coattails effect will carry Miranda’s work to the podium.