A funny category this year, cinematography, where the overwhelming critics’ winner, Top Gun: Maverick, the most populist film of 2022, was the category’s shocking snub.
The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) took note of the snub and upheld 36 years of history by not rewarding the film last night at its annual awards (the org has never given their win to a non-Oscar-nominated film) but what they did give was another 36-year stat: Mandy Walker (Elvis) became the first woman ever to win ASC for feature film.
Earlier in the season, Walker became the first woman to win the AATCA (the Australian Academy Award) for cinematography and is only the third woman ever nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar. She joins Rachel Morrison for 2017’s Mudbound and Ari Wegner for 2021’s The Power of the Dog. Despite a rousing speech at ASC (“This is for all of the women who will win this award after me, she said”) I feel like Warner Bros has absolutely dropped the ball in capitalizing on the potential historic nature of an Oscar win here. Once perceived frontrunner Top Gun was gone, WB should have gone into high gear – as much as they did for Austin Butler in the lead role – to champion this narrative.
In the absence of a frontrunner, it’s Netflix that took the ball and ran with it, taking All Quiet on the Western Front’s BAFTA and BSC (British Society of Cinematographers) wins and highlighting them in ads, videos and more, turning it into the frontrunner.
The last three ASC winners went on to win the Oscar but All Quiet wasn’t nominated by the ASC. The last time the Oscar winner for Cinematography wasn’t first nominated by the ASC, interestingly enough, was another non-English language film – 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth. That film, from Guillermo del Toro, was nominated for six Oscars and won three (Cinematography, Art Direction and Makeup). All Quiet is in an even better position with nine nominations, including Best Picture, and the frontrunner for International Feature Film and a top contender elsewhere.
Here are my final 2023 Oscar winner predictions for Cinematography.
|1. All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix) – BAFTA
|2. Elvis (Warner Bros) – ASC, BAFTA
|3. TÁR (Focus Features) – CCA
|4. Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures) – ASC, BAFTA, CCA
|5. Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Netflix) – ASC