The cinematography category, like many of the tech categories, can seem to feel more like ‘Most’ vs ‘Best’ in terms of what gets nominated and wins. Subtlety of camera angles and placement is hard to get noticed when you have movies about space and post-apocalyptic worlds battling it out. Then you also have people that can be nominated on name alone, like 12-time nominee Roger Deakins. He appears on our list at #2 with Sicario and he’s almost always a safe bet…for a nomination. It seems that no matter what type of film he shoots, be it a genre film that lands its only Oscar nomination from Deakins or a Best Picture winner, AMPAS just won’t give him the damn win. It doesn’t appear that this year will be any different, alas.
One of the reason is that his greatest competition comes from the man who’s run this two years in a row (Emmanuel Lubeski – Birdman, Gravity) and the visual style we’ve seen from the trailer for The Revenant looks like he’s the frontrunner for an unprecedented 3rd win in a row.
We’re also looking at 3-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson (JFK, The Aviator, Hugo) for his 70mm lensing of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. Carol’s Ed Lachmann is definitely in the conversation with his 16mm graininess of Carol, looking for his second Oscar nomination for another Todd Haynes film (he was previously nominated for Far From Heaven).
But at #5 comes Mátyás Erdély for his eerie and unsettling POV photography in Foreign Language Film frontrunner Son of Saul. If people watch the film he’ll get nominated and since the nominations are built upon each branch that could vault him into the top 5. Foreign language films have actually done pretty well in this category with 2014’s Ida, 2013’s The Grandmaster and 2009’s The White Ribbon being the most recent and high profile films to break in.