One of the few guild awards that does not cross over with the Oscars very often is the American Society of Cinematographers. In the past decade only 4 times out of 10 has the winner of the ASC Award gone on to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography. Fortunately there are many other awards bodies that recognize the best work in cinematography in a given year, so there is a lot of opportunity to gauge the current sentiment of this category.
For much of the last several months the favored winner for Best Cinematography has been Roger Deakins for his work on the Coen Brothers’ True Grit. This year marked Deakins’ 9th Oscar nomination and he has yet to take home a statue. There is no cinematographer more due for an award than the distinguished Deakins whose filmography includes such masterful work as Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption, The Man Who Wasn’t There, A Beautiful Mind, and The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford. So far this year Deakins has won the BAFTA Award as well as prizes from the Boston, Central Ohio, Online, and Phoenix critics groups. A big part of the FYC push for True Grit has surrounded Deakins’ cinematography work including a very impressive video feature released two weeks ago. A lot of people are rooting for Deakins including members of the Academy that are likely to propel him to the win.
Inception‘s director of photography Wally Pfister is right on the heels of Deakins with a number of major precursor wins under his belt. First and foremost, Pfister surprised many when he took home the American Society of Cinematographers Award last week. He has also took home the Critics Choice Award and has received prizes from the Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas, and San Diego critics groups. Inception is a favorite in a number of technical categories and it could potentially pull off a tech sweep. If such a feat occurs it will easily propel Pfister to his first Academy Award.
Matthew Libatique of Black Swan and Jeff Cronenwerth of The Social Network both received their first Academy Award nominations this year. Hopefully they are both just happy to be nominated as neither of their films seems like a particularly likely contender in this category. Some have speculated that The King’s Speech could pull off a Return of the King or Titanic style sweep of the Oscars. While I find that highly unlikely, the prospect of cinematographer Danny Cohen being part of such a sweep should not be completely counted out.
Predicted to Win: True Grit
Potential Spoiler: Inception
Deserves to Win: True Grit
Should Have Been Nominated: The Secret in Their Eyes