Cinematography is my favorite Oscar category because it awards my favorite element of film making. Cinematography is also one of the more difficult categories to predict. It’s just hard to tell what the consensus of the Academy will be when it comes to cinematography. Most years, from precursors to guilds and awards shows, multiple films are awarded “Best Cinematography”. However, it’s the Oscar that really counts.
American Society of Cinematographers Awards
38% - ASC and Oscar winner match.
38% - In years where ASC and Oscar nominations match 4/5, as they do this year, the ASC and Oscar winners match.
This is a very poor match rate. It’s so bad, one might use the ASC winner to rule out what will win Oscar. Roger Deakins for Skyfall won the ASC this year. The ASC to Oscar match rate suggests that he will, yet again, not win the Oscar.
8% - Only twice has the Oscar winner not been nominated for ASC (Pan’s Labyrinth-2006 and Glory-1989)
This stat suggests that Robert Richardson will not win the Oscar, though his work with Django Unchained was some of the best of the year. This leaves us with Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi, Janusz Kaminski for Lincoln and Seamus McGarvey for Anna Karenina.
Roger Deakins (Skyfall)
Roger Deakins has never won an Oscar, though he has won 2 ASC awards (Shawshank Redemption-1994 and The Man Who Wasn’t There-2001) and has been nominated 10 times during his career. To say that Roger is due would be an understatement.
Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
Claudio Miranda has never won an Oscar though he was nominated once before in 2008 for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Janusz Kaminski (Lincoln)
Janusz Kaminski has won 2 Oscars (Schindler’s List-1993, Saving Private Ryan-1998) and has been nominated 6 times.
Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina)
Seamus McGarvey was nominated in 2007 for his beautiful work on Atonement, but has never won.
Robert Richardson (Django Unchained)
Robert Richardson has been nominated 8 times. He won for JFK (1991), The Aviator (2004) and Hugo (2011). I don’t see him winning this year, because only twice has a cinematographer won the Oscar 2 years in a row:
- John Toll for Braveheart and Legends of the Fall (1994-1995)
- Leon Shamroy for Leave Her to Heaven and Wilson (1944-45)
…but hey, it’s got to happen sometime.
The precursors for cinematography have been mainly dominated by Skyfall and Life of Pi. No other nominated films won any precursors.
Roger Deakins has an aura about him of one who is, without question, one of the best cinematographers of the day, yet never seems to actually win any Oscars. This can’t always be chalked up to stiff competition because if you ask me, then I would tell you that Fargo was better than the English Patient. This year, Skyfall is arguably the best, depending on how you feel about Django Unchained.
Claudio Miranda’s work on Life of Pi is good, but the film really stands on its very stunning and Oscar-worthy Visual Effects. The cinematography seems almost fabricated when you look at it that way, though Avatar won in a similar situation. What’s more, though Life of Pi cleaned up at the VES awards, it did not win nor was it nominated for Virtual Cinematography, an award I would think it would have won if it’s being considered for the Oscar cinematography.
At any rate, Roger Deakins has the clout, but Life of Pi has the buzz.
Prediction: Life of Pi