After a season long domination with critics awards and BAFTA, Nomadland was stopped right at the end of the awards season run before the Oscars by Mank as the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), where Erik Messerschmidt upset Joshua James Richards at this weekend’s ASC Awards. Does that mean there’s an upset in the making in what was thought to be one of Nomadland‘s strongest categories?
Let’s take a look at ASC and BAFTA splits over the last 20 years, with Oscar winners in bold:
- 2018: ASC – Cold War; BAFTA – Roma
- 2016: ASC – Lion; BAFTA – La La Land
- 2012: ASC – Skyfall; BAFTA – Life of Pi
- 2011: ASC – The Tree of Life; BAFTA – The Artist (Hugo)
- 2010: ASC – Inception; BAFTA – True Grit
- 2009: ASC – The White Ribbon; BAFTA – The Hurt Locker (Avatar)
- 2007: ASC – There Will Be Blood; BAFTA – No Country for Old Men
- 2004: ASC – A Very Long Engagement; BAFTA – Collateral (The Aviator)
- 2003: ASC – Seabiscuit; BAFTA – LOTR: Return of the King (Master & Commander)
- 2000: ASC – The Patriot; BAFTA – Gladiator (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Crunching the numbers, AMPAS went for BAFTA choice three times, ASC twice, then five for another choice altogether. BAFTA’s three were for the last three splits. What’s most interesting about these splits is that not once was the cinematography Oscar winner from the Best Picture winner. Five times the BAFTA winner for cinematography came from the Best Picture Oscar winner that year but zero times for the ASC winner.
Let’s ponder this for a moment: Best Cinematography winner in the last 20 years had a Best Production Design nomination, except Birdman and Slumdog Millionaire. That helps ASC winner Mank and hurts Nomadland. Well, maybe not hurts, but possibly impacts it. Nomadland is far less a visual crafts film than a luxurious period piece like Mank. It didn’t show up at the costume or art directors guilds, nor was it expected to. But the thing that’s never left the awards conversation around the film has been its cinematography. While evocative of the leisurely landscapes and look of much of the work in Terrence Malick films, Joshua James Richards’ lensing transcended that comparison quite easily. And, for what it’s worth, that style of cinematography has been a typical winner here but we are in anything but a typical year. Especially when four of the five cinematographers here are first-time nominees.
Is a win here for Nomadland crucial for its Best Picture chances? Probably not but it’s also not likely it can win with simply Best Director. While Best Actress, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing are all very much in the mix for the film, this has been the most consistent category win for the film outside of director.
For Mank, a win here would save it from becoming the first Best Picture nominee to only win Production Design since 1978’s Heaven Can Wait.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the Union Station in Los Angeles.
Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions in Cinematography.
1. Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) – ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
Joshua James Richards
2. Mank (Netflix) – ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
3. Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros) – BAFTA
4. News of the World (Universal Pictures) – ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) – ASC