Glad I waited until the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) announced their nominations this morning because they dropped a Cherry bomb on the Oscar race.
Out of nowhere, the ASC nominated Newton Thomas Sigel (Three Kings, Drive) for the very first time, not for his work on Da 5 Bloods (this poor movie) but for the Tom Holland-goes-hard critical flop Cherry instead. They didn’t even nominate him for the guild and Oscar behemoth Bohemian Rhapsody. No one saw this coming but now we all have to pay attention to it because nominations like this from the ASC mean something. They mean something we thought was probably safe no longer is.
The stats are simply too much in favor for Cherry. You’d have to back to 2006’s The Good Shepherd for non-Best Picture contender to get ASC then miss at the Oscars. The last movie to be nominated by ASC and get shut out at the Oscars was The Boxer 23 years ago. It’s why it’s important to pay close attention to guilds with lots of AMPAS crossover, they give us the contenders we either weren’t thinking about or were right in front of us the whole time (like Caleb Deschanel’s nomination for Never Look Away). I know some of us will be tempted by the Spotlight Award mention for Dear Comrades! but without a BAFTA nomination to go along with it, I don’t see its black and white lensing simply leapfrogging over other contenders.
Here’s a look at films that hit ASC but missed the Oscars (and what they missed for) since 2007.
2019 – Ford v Ferrari (The Lighthouse [BAFTA-nominated])
2018 – First Man (Never Look Away)
2017 – none
2016 – none
2015 – Bridge of Spies (The Hateful Eight)
2014 – The Imitation Game (Ida [BAFTA-nominated, ASC Spotlight Award])
2013 – 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips (7 ASC nominees that year)
2012 – Les Misérables (Django Unchained)
2011 – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (War Horse [BAFTA-nominated])
2010 – none
2009 – Nine (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
2008 – Revolutionary Road (Changeling [BAFTA-nominated])
2007 – none
So which ASC nominee this year is the most vulnerable to an Oscar snub or is there one? The AMPAS cinematographers branch isn’t afraid to snub favorites and even eventual Best Picture nominees and winners. The Trial of the Chicago 7 feels like it would be but the film simply isn’t missing many guilds and clearly has broad support. BAFTA-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah cinematographer Sean Bobbitt was snubbed at the Oscars for 12 Years a Slave going in with both ASC and BAFTA nominations and the eventual Best Picture winner and remains never Oscar-nominated. That was a hard snub but one to look at when we think someone is safe. If you put those two together and add to the fact that this year’s lineup of likely cinematography contenders is going to be mostly first-time nominees I have to think that the branch will go for the one previous nominee (Phedon Papamichael) over the never-nominated, Oscar-snubbed lenser in a film that’s already on the cusp for a Best Picture nomination.
Here are my final 2021 Oscar nomination predictions in Cinematography.
- 1. Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
Joshua James Richards
- 2. Mank (Netflix) – ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
- 3. News of the World (Universal Pictures) – ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
- 4. Cherry (Apple TV+) – ASC
Newton Thomas Sigel
- 5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) – ASC
Watch out for: Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros) – BAFTA
Image courtesy of Apple TV+