Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:11 am

This is a category for which the phrase "on the other hand" might have been coined. It's impossible to settle on a selection without being immediately tempted to change your mind in favor of another nominee.

Of course, the first elimination is easy: if you pick Darkest Hour and it wins, I guarantee you you'll be the only one in your pool to score points. There's simply no reason whatever to expect Delbonnel to triumph.

I don't think Rachel Morrison rates much further up the scale. I'm very happy with her nomination -- a barrier-breaker that's completely deserved -- but it's a definite case of the nomination having to be the reward: the film's profile isn't strong enough, nor the visuals flashy enough, to win in this field.

After that is when I start tearing my hair out. Dunkirk is something of an enigma to me: everything about it (subject matter, reviews, audience size) screams Major Oscar Winner...yet somehow, like a baseball team with a line-up of sluggers but a .500 record, it seems to have settled into second division. Were it the contender it for so long threatened to be, this would no doubt be a category it'd snatch up along the way. Now, there are whispers (from Tapley and Anne Thompson) that, despite the film's lackluster showing at various precursors, Hollywood insiders think it has a real shot at the top prize. If so, this category would be an obvious spot for its unexpected strength to show itself. I don't rule it out...but right at the moment it feels like it's running third.

When was the last time we had two movies as visually stunning as The Shape of Water and Blade Runner 2049, competing against one another in the same year? Each, without the other, would be almost certain to sweep cinematography and production design. As it is, it's hard to know whether to bet on one of them to sweep, or to predict a split -- and, if so, in which direction. The big factor in Shape's favor is, of course, the best picture nomination (as well as its 12 other nods). Best picture nominees have simply done better in the category, over the past decade in particular. If the film were to win, no one would be calling it an outrage; it's well within normal range.

But Roger Deakins' status as the world's most Oscar-ignored cinematographer gives Blade Runner a better shot than a run-of-the-mill non-best picture nominee. Let's note that Blade Runner isn't some weak cousin in this race: it's got five below-the-line nominations, just one fewer than Memoirs of a Geisha when it swept cinematography/costumes/production design. (I know some'll argue Geisha might have made the best picture list in an expanded field, but that's just speculation.) And Blade Runner has won far more of this year's run-up awards -- BAFTA and ASC, of course, but also the vast majority of those minor critics, plus the National Society. (Shape of Water did win at LA Critics, but few other places.) None of this guarantees anything: as Sabin noted, Children of Men also took BAFTA and ASC, but lost to (wait for it) a Guillermo del Toro movie -- AMPAS could decide to disappoint Deakins the way it disappointed Lubezki in 2006 and 2011.

But there's Deakins' reputation to consider. A lot of people are saying No one will know they're voting for Deakins because no names are on the ballot. Well, that same was true in the score category two years ago -- but does anyone want to argue voters didn't realize they were voting for Ennio Morricone? The Hateful Eight was, if anything, way less popular than Blade Runner, but voters singled it out because they wanted to give the legend his reward. I'm not going to argue that Deakins is a household name -- there are presumably publicists who don't know his name. But in the crafts area, I have to assume he's widely known; he's also certainly a known quantity to the many directors, writers and actors who've worked with him over the years. (Remember when Jessica Chastain announced the cinematography winner a few years back with an excited "Chivo"? -- actors know the names of the people who make them look good.) I think Deakins eking out the win partly on the basis of being overdue is not pure fantasy -- it's not like when all those bloggers used to predict Kevin O'Connell year after years for Transformers movies; O'Connell was genuinely unknown except to insiders in his field. Deakins has a reputation, enough of one to maybe win.

Not that I'm ready to ink him in because, as I said at the start, "on the other hand" -- in a trice, I can switch back to Shape of Water, or even be persuaded Dunkirk is ready to rumble. The race is genuinely undecided, and will remain so until the envelope is opened.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Reza » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:07 am

The Original BJ wrote:
OscarGuy wrote:BJ, I don't know if you've seen Black Panther


I’ve seen Black Panther. (Which I consider quite an achievement, given the film’s seemingly non-stop attempts to put me to sleep for most of its running time.)


Oh, so you don't like super hero movies in general. That explains your very hohum response to it. For a minute there I thought it was because you are white.

I, too, haven't found anything worthwhile in all the comic book movies in the past. But I loved Black Panther. I know it's because I'm not white and the film's message certainly struck a very familiar chord.

:)

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Heksagon » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:12 am

They do sometimes. But not very often, and (I believe) usually only when the competition line-up doesn't have any really strong contenders to begin with.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:54 am

Heksagon wrote:I'm usually the person who doesn't think that Academy likes to give awards just because they think someone is "due",


They do in the acting categories.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Heksagon » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:44 am

I'm usually the person who doesn't think that Academy likes to give awards just because they think someone is "due", but this time, I do think they will give the award to Deakins. He's the best know cinematographer of the last decade or two; he has a ton of nominations without a win; he's already relatively old; and the competition is relatively weak this year.

I don't think it matters a lot that Blade Runner 2049 doesn't have a Best Picture nomination. The film doesn't fit the profile of a Best Picture nominee and I have the impression that the studio didn't much invest in campaigning for Oscars. Based on the positive reviews the film got, I think it could have made it to the line-up with stronger marketing. I think the film is well liked enough to win an award.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:29 pm

Sure, Best Cinematography goes hand in hand with Best Production Design, a category that we're already calling for 'The Shape of Water,' but I'm predicting it wins here as well for these reasons:
-- even though nobody knows who Dan Lausten is, Academy voters aren't going to see his name on the ballot.
-- the last movie to win Best Cinematography without a corresponding Best Picture nomination was 'Pan's Labyrinth' in 2006 (when no other Best Picture nominees were nominated).
-- that movie won against another bleak dystopian future movie.
-- 'Blade Runner 2049' may be objectively the most beautiful film, but 'The Shape of Water' is prettier.

But there's one thing that we can't ignore: Roger Deakins may be overdue but this is one of the few races where he actually has a shot at winning. In retrospect, he's only had one film that he probably could have won for -- 'True Grit.' It was the perfect opportunity to honor him for his collaboration with the Coen Brothers. But the writing was on the wall that it wasn't in the bag. NOBODY thought it was anything close to his best work at the time and he didn't even win the ASC award. Unlike in 2012 when he was up for 'Skyfall', which everyone agreed it was some of his best cinematography to date, but he was going up against a 3D Best Picture nominated technological marvel.

So, why am I really predicting 'The Shape of Water'? I'm tired of losing my Oscar pool by predicting anyone to finally win, and if I'm wrong and Deakins does win, then I'll be happy to win wrong.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Okri » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:17 pm

Man, you really should just skip blockbusters.

Like everyone else, I think this is a three-film race. I'm predicting The Shape of Water for now.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:35 am

OscarGuy wrote:BJ, I don't know if you've seen Black Panther


I’ve seen Black Panther. (Which I consider quite an achievement, given the film’s seemingly non-stop attempts to put me to sleep for most of its running time.)

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:37 am

BJ, I don't know if you've seen Black Panther, but I was incredibly impressed with the cinematography in that one. It has the same richness that has often characterized Deakins' work over the years. Matter of fact, I could see her following Deakins' path towards universal recognition at this point.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:06 am

Reza wrote:
The Original BJ wrote:Mudbound is a very deserving nominee, and of course Morrison's historic nomination was cheer-worthy. But I'd honestly be shocked if she emerged the winner


Rachel Morrison will be back for round 2 next year for Black Panther.


This is a convo for another thread, but I don’t see any precedent to suggest this will be the case.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Reza » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:57 am

The Original BJ wrote:Mudbound is a very deserving nominee, and of course Morrison's historic nomination was cheer-worthy. But I'd honestly be shocked if she emerged the winner


Rachel Morrison will be back for round 2 next year for Black Panther.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:26 pm

I wanted to wait until after ASC to comment here, and now BAFTA has weighed in as well.

I'd rate Darkest Hour the least likely to prevail -- I thought it actually might have missed this nomination for something hipper. As it stands, there are ample opportunities for voters to honor the movie (Actor and Makeup), and it's hard to see something this contained taking the statue from more obvious craft achievements.

Mudbound is a very deserving nominee, and of course Morrison's historic nomination was cheer-worthy. But I'd honestly be shocked if she emerged the winner -- I just don't see how even this cultural moment will lead to "vote for women in every category," and think Gerwig in the Screenplay race is a far more likely benefit of those kind of statement votes. On its face, the movie just has too many hurdles -- too indie, not a tech heavyweight, not a Best Picture candidate -- to top the competition.

I think any of the other three are possible victors. I thought Dunkirk stood a great shot at this category when I saw it over the summer -- the film was hugely acclaimed as a visual wow, and its visceral battle images are one of the most memorable aspects of the movie. Its status seems to have slipped a bit, though -- Nolan's inability to contend much in Director suggests Dunkirk won't sweep through the techs the way Gravity did, and I think there are other below-the-line categories where the movie seems like a more logical winner.

Before this weekend, I was sort of leaning toward predicting The Shape of Water here. Del Toro's dominance of the Director prizes, and the movie's status as a top Best Picture contender, suggests it could be a very major player down-ballot. And it's truly a gorgeous looking film, the kind that, as Sabin says, could easily pick up Production Design and Cinematography as a kind of in-tandem recognition of the film's visual achievement.

But...maybe so could Blade Runner 2049, another movie with a knockout visual scheme, and tech nominations across the board. It feels like the fact that it isn't a Best Picture nominee will hurt it -- Deakins's last two ASC triumphs (The Man Who Wasn't There and Skyfall) lost at the Oscars to two more widely-beloved Best Picture candidates. (Oddly, the one other time he did win the ASC prize, for The Shawshank Redemption, he ended up losing to a way more minor candidate overall.) But, it's possible the eternal bridesmaid factor will eventually carry the day at same point, and Deakins will end up a winner. The BAFTA prize certainly suggests this year could be the year.

One thing that will be really interesting is how Production Design and Cinematography get handed out -- it feels like either movie could win both, or a split could occur in either direction. (Or, potentially, Dunkirk rallies to swipe the Cinematography category from both of them.)

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby OscarGuy » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:12 pm

Unless there's a concerted effort to push Deakins to a win, I suspect that Rachel Morrison might win as a statement victory even if it isn't the kind they normally pick. Of course, Shape of Water is very glossy and green, which could give the voters nostalgia envy to pick it.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Sabin » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:59 pm

I think anonymous is right that Rachel Morrison has gathered more public attention than any other nominee, but 'Mudbound' just isn't the kind of film that wins Oscars for cinematography. It's too small and dreary.

Since 1999, only three films have won Best Cinematography without a Production Design nomination ('Birdman', 'Slumdog Millionaire,' 'American Beauty') and about a third of the movies that won Best Cinematography won Best Production Design to boot. I'm inclined to say that gives 'The Shape of Water' the edge, although it's entirely possible that 'Blade Runner 2049' wins both categories as well.

Bottom line is I'm done predicting this guy. I'd rather be disappointed and win my ballot or pleased and lose my ballot.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Cinematography

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:49 am

I pretty much agree with nearly everything Anonymous has said in so far as there are four possible winners.

A non best picture has not won this award since Pan's Labyrinth, but that was when there were also only 5 nominees so it does make me think Blade Runner 2049 & Mudbound have a lesser chance than Dunkirk & The Shape of Water.

But then there is the Roger Deakins factor and the 'first woman' Rachel Morrison factor. And sooner or later a non best picture nominee is going to win in this category.

My own personal preference is for Blade Runner 2049 with The Shape of Waters right behind. I still can't get over that The Shape of Water only cost 19.5 million to make - it looks it cost five or six times that amount. My own problem with Mudbound is that it is the only nominee I have seen on a TV screen rather than the cinema so it's terrible easy to undervalue the work. It looked nice with it's honey drench photography but one can't beat a cinema experience which Netflix has denied most of us, though most voters will have probably seen most if not all of the nominees on the home screens.
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