Monday, 13 February 2012

Incoherent Oscar: Cinematography

Onwards with category by category look at the Oscar categories.

The last time I checked in the art direction nominees were the subject under discussion – this time around, it’s the cinematography. The both of them coalesce in most definitively to giving the film its look.

The Nominees: The Artist; The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo; Hugo; The Tree of Life; War Horse

What do you notice? We’ve got four best picture nominees, and (depending on whom you choose to listen to) the film which got that dreaded tenth spot. Cinematography is my favourite technical category, and I say it’s been a particularly good year for photography. This is a stellar crop of nominees, though, even if some particular favourites didn’t make it.

The Artist: Guillaume Schiffman
Like a number of directors Hazanavicius keeps his same production team from film to film and Schiffman has been working with him since his OSS 117 films and like Hazanavicius,Schiffman is celebrating his first nomination. Like its production design the photography on The Artist had the added work of ensuring that it worked for a black-and-white film, so the lighting in particular becomes of particular importance. And, when the film gets all montage heavy in the middle of the second act it sorts of becomes all about the photography for a bit. It’s Schiffman’s first nomination, but the below the awards have never been particular averse to giving first time nominees wins if they love their films. And, although the BAFTA and AMPAS don’t have a strong nexus when it comes to the technical awards (they don’t, look it up) it’s a threat if only because the film seems to be so wholly loved.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Jeff Crenoweth
This is Crenoweth’s second consecutive nomination (last year he was cited for his work on The Social Network) and although I’m not going all “gee-golly” over his work, I’m always chuffed when contemporary films show up here (I’ m still bemoaning the Rabbit Hole shut out in every single photography precursor last year, hell every award other than Best Actress). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and with its rather basic story Fincher turns it into an exercise in excellent style and Crenoweth’s work is one of the highlights of the film. There is that feeling that this category could go either way, and since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has some support with voters it’s not completely out of the question to consider him a major contender. But, there are five nominees and there shall only be one winner – they can’t all win.

Hugo: Robert Richardson
Let us acknowledge the teal, there’s a lot of teal and there’s a lot of orange. Everyone seems to be up in arms about the teal and orange, so yes it's a lot of teal and orange but noticing that sort of dissipates a few minutes in because Hugo is just gorgeous. Granted, I’ve got massive love for Richardson (one-two career best in The Aviator and Shutter Island, I say) and he’s doing great work here. And, AMPAS loves Hugo and despite the shut-out last year for Shutter Island they like Richardson – he’s got seven nominations, two of them wins (JFK, The Aviator). So much of Hugo is about the beauty in the world around, and Richardson sure does evoke that beauty. The camera is almost always moving, Richardson has to capture the world through the eyes of a child making it all look fantastical and full of magic, and he does.

The Tree of Life: Emmanuel Lubezki
A number of the articles trumping Lubezki as the one who should win the Oscar make note of him being robbed for his work on Children of Men, to which I sort of throw my hands up in the air at, because? “Due” and Oscar status, again? Onwards, Lubezki’s work isn’t about expressly making his film evoke beauty like Richardson, but in the quest to elicit that ethereal quality the photography in The Tree of Life is of particular importance and Lubezki’s work is stunning. In fact, it’s one of the notable traits of Malick’s work – the beauty of the photography – and Lubezki does stunning work. He’s celebrating his fifth nomination, in addition to the aforementioned Children of Men he’s been cited forA Little Princess, The New World and Sleepy Hollow (I’d say he was “snubbed” for his work on that, that film’s technical marvel).

War Horse: Janusz Kaminski
I will say, if the teal and orange in Hugo is an issue for you do NOT look at that final golden scene in War Horse where Kaminski goes wild with the lighting. I like Kaminski, though (loved his work on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). He’s won for his work on Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan with nominations for Amistad and the aforementioned 2007 flick. War Horse is well shot, though, it’s in keeping with the overflowing nostalgia from the piece, and whether it’s your thing or not you’ve got to admit that those lush plains look good under his camera. The thing about War Horse is that it seemed poised to fade away, and yet it kept on showing up and you just can’t count Spielberg out, can you?

Projected Winner: Hugo (subject to change, but I think they’ll go for orange and teal if only for that gorgeous opening)
Alternate: The Tree of Life (a just as likely winner, and the ASC did fĂȘte – maybe I’ll change my mind…)

Who do you thinks take the photography prize? Is the race as open as I think? Does Lubezki have it easy? Is Richardson or Kaminski a threat? Could The Artist upset?


MrJeffery said...

i think 'tree of life' is clearly the most interesting of the nominees and would be a very deserving win.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

mrjeffery well, it surely would not be an undeserving choice.

Paolo said...

Yes, The Tree of Life has the most diverse colour palette. And the thing is movies as colourful as it will try to sear its audience but instead it feels cool or a bit washed on the screen to good effect.

That said, CRO-nen-WETH! CRO-nen-WETH! CRO-nen-WETH! The cool coziness of GWtDT's cinematography complements the tension.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

paolo even though i'm all about richardson, i'd be okay with either that, tol or gwtdt taking it. PS, did you see hugo?