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Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Oscar Preview: Best Cinematography

Click here for my introduction

Before I begin this post, it is probably best to explain to you what “cinematography” actually is because I’m sure most of you reading this post have no idea. Cinematography is the look of the film. The director is the one in charge and ultimately everyone answers to the director, but the one actually behind the camera is the Director of Photography- or the cinematographer. Everything about how a particular scene LOOKS is due to the Director of Photography (DP). How the light affects the scene, the framing of the scene, and how the scene looks is (mostly) because of the DP. 
For example, about a year ago, shots of the filming of the climax scene between Bane and Batman from The Dark Knight Rises were released. The movie was shot in the middle of summer in Pittsburgh but the scene itself takes place during the cold of winter with snowflakes falling from the sky. When you see the final product, it absolutely looks like Bane and Batman are fighting in the middle of winter and there is no evidence the scene was shot in the wrong season. The way Wally Pfister (Nolan’s Oscar-winning DP) shot the scene and tinted the light and such makes you believe you are watching a gloomy, dark, and cold fight. The reason it looks that way is about of the DP and that’s (generally) what a DP does.

  • Anna Karenina (Seamus McGarvey)
  • Django Unchained (Robert Richardson)
  • Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
  • Lincoln (Janusz Kaminiski)
  • Skyfall (Roger Deakins)


DJANGO UNCHAINED: As good as Django Unchained is, the look of the film itself didn't seem too impressive. Tarantino wrote and directed the hell out of the movie but nothing about Django screamed “amazing cinematography” to me.
LIFE OF PI: Life of Pi was gorgeous and beautiful. No matter what you thought of the final product, there is no denying how amazing it looks.
LINCOLN: Lincoln did manage to set a good look, tone, and feel for what was going during that time period. Considering how much Lincoln bashing I will be doing in the future, I’ll say for now that it’s cinematography was pretty darn good. It wouldn't have gotten a nomination from me but I'm not upset about Lincoln getting nominated here as I am with the other nominations it received. 
SKYFALL: Skyfall was another gorgeous film. The scene where James Bond is lurking on the roof top following the sniper was alone enough to make sure my boy Roger Deakins earned his eleventy billionth Oscar nomination (1. It’s actually only Deakins' 9th nominations, 2. He is “my boy” because he was the DP for the greatest film ever made: The Shawshank Redemption- also the film where he earned his first Oscar nomination, & 3. As many nominations as Deakins has, he still doesn't have a single win)
ANNA KARENINA: I did not see Anna Karenina and I make no apologies for that.

  • Argo (Rodrigo Prieto)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (Wally Pfister)
  • Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
  • The Master (Mihai Malaimare Jr.)
  • Skyfall (Roger Deakins)

  • WHAT SHOULD WIN (OSCAR FIELD): Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
  • WHAT SHOULD WIN (ENTIRE FIELD): Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
  • WHAT WILL WIN: Lincoln (Janusz Kaminiski)* Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)

* This is subject to change for me depending on who wins Best Cinematographer at the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) awards on February 10th

In Life of Pi, the scene where Pi’s boat sinks is one of the best shot scenes in 2012 and the very end of that scene (and which you see in the Life of Pi trailers) has a shot that is my favorite single shot of 2012. Both Pi and the huge boat he is on is completely underwater. Pi’s back is to us and is he is in the foreground.The boat basically fills up the rest of the frame but it is in the background. The lights on the boat are flickering and are about to go off. Pi seems so small compared to the sinking ship and the camera actually lingers for a few seconds while the boat sinks. It is just an incredible shot to me to see the grandeur of it all that I can’t help but find the beauty in it despite the tragedy that has just happened to our main character.  
see: 0:55 into this trailer (although you need to see the film to truly see the full scene)


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