Can Lion Win the Oscar for Best Cinematography?

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) had their annual awards ceremony was held this past Sunday, and Garth Davis’ Lion surprised by winning the feature film award. The film beat out awards season heavy-hitter La La Land, as well as the other fantastically shot films Arrival, Silence, and Moonlight.


In an awards season made boring by La La Land sweeping up wins wherever and whenever possible, this might be the first season shocker to date. This is not to downplay Lion‘s cinematography in the slightest, as it is one of the film’s strongest attributes. But something might finally be giving La La a run for its money.

Of course, we must first look at the stats.

The last time the ASC award and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography went to different films was 2012, when Roger Deakins took the ASC (quite deservedly) but lost the Oscar to Life of Pi.

Since 2000, the ASC and the Academy Award have gone to different films on eight occasions. Since the ASC started giving out awards in 1986, the ASC has snubbed the Oscar winner 17 times. To be fair, that is quite a discrepancy.

The truth is, the ASC and the Academy inevitably go about choosing their winners in different ways. Academy members are more likely to give a vote to a film they like more than a film that has could be the bigger technical achievement, quite simply because the Academy is not entirely comprised of camera experts.

There is no need to alter your Oscar office pool ballot on the ASC’s account. If you want to be sly and pick the upset, or perhaps you just want to brag about how much dumb movie nerd knowledge you know and tell everyone that Lion has a chance, then go ahead and pick Lion.

In a year where Best Cinematography is stacked with talent, though, I find it hard to see Lion sneaking up from behind. Its stock has certainly risen a bit, especially considering competitor Silence only received a single nomination. If Lion is going to win anything come February 26, it is Best Cinematography. But still…you saw that opening freeway scene of La La Land, right?


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


One thought on “Can Lion Win the Oscar for Best Cinematography?”

  1. Lion, in my opinion, was the best movie I have seen in years! I have seen all the nominated films and can not see LaLa Land, Moonlight or Arrival winning anything. They were quite boring compared to the other nominees.


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