Best Cinematography is shaping up to be an exciting, if not predictable, category in 2018. A couple of bits of trivia. Roger Deakins, the front-runner, has been nominated for Oscars 14 times in the past and has never won. The man essentially invented the way movies are color graded today, so he kind of deserves the recognition.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the nomination for Rachel Morrison for Mudbound marks the first time in Academy history that a woman has been nominated for Best Cinematography. I remember at some point in my academic career I was given a statistic that the number of employed female DPs in Hollywood only make up about 3% of DPs (don’t quote me on this exact number). It is surprising how the world of cinematographers is still a boy’s club, and thus this nomination for Morrison is a pretty big deal.
So…should we talk winners and losers now?
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: Dunkirk
Dark Horse: Mudbound
It is hard to see Deakins not running away with this thing. He is arguably the greatest cinematographer working today, has a long history of nominations, and did a remarkable job with Blade Runner 2049. Even if the Academy isn’t in love with Blade Runner 2049—however, it did get five total nominations—this could be a legacy win for Deakins.
If the Academy is ready and willing to back some topical social politics, it could go for Mudbound. This isn’t to say that Morrison didn’t do great work on the film in her own right, but it will take a big campaign for any film to take down Deakins. The current #MeToo conversation could help this campaign gain momentum.
The issue with Mudbound and cinematography is that, unfortunately, it is a Netflix film. As good as the camera work is, it is unlikely that any Academy member has seen this film on the big screen. Conversely, Dunkirk was a major big screen experience. Academy members may have a stronger recollection of that cinematography than the Mudbound cinematography that they saw on tiny TVs.
If it isn’t going to be Deakins (it is), then it is going to be one of these other two. That Darkest Hour got in at all remains a surprise to me, as good as certain shots are. And The Shape of Water is going to win awards at this ceremony, but this won’t be one of them.
As always, thanks for reading!
Like CineFiles on Facebook for updates on new articles and reviews
Check out my page on Letterboxd
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)