ASC nominees

Posted by · 12:18 pm · January 11th, 2010

The White Ribbon“Avatar” continues its guild steamroll with a mention from the ASC today, a mention I frankly didn’t think the film would get.  Then again, the guild is typically kind to digital photography where AMPAS is not (examples are “Collateral” and “Apocalypto”), so I wouldn’t say it’s a slam dunk in this category for Oscar.  Then again, maybe I’m blind to the writing on the wall here.  And “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” may have gone a long way toward dispelling digital bias in the Academy.

I don’t get the love for Christian Berger.  I haven’t since day one.  There is nothing appealing to me about the way Michael Haneke visually captures his films.  There’s rarely anything appealing to me about his films period, truth be told.  But somehow going with black and white and employing his usual brand of tracking shots, long takes, etc., rarely with compelling composition (all my opinion, of course), it has managed to bring Berger laurel after laurel.  Critics awards are one thing, but an organization like the ASC, which I trust and respect, I don’t know.  Maybe I just missed the boat completely.

“Nine” finally gets a guild mention and Robert Richardson, as always, is an ASC favorite once more.

Which of these, if any, will miss with the Academy (since one always does)?  If I had to guess, I’d say either “Avatar” or “The White Ribbon” (though the latter has obviously had an impressive showing on the circuit).  Many would probably like to say Dion Beebe is out, but I still think his beautiful lighting on the film is safe.

Who’d be a replacement?  Probably someone like Bruno Delbonnel.  If guild favorite Roger Deakins missed here, I have a hard time thinking he’d have better luck with the Academy.  And if the digital photography in “Public Enemies” didn’t work for ASC members, you can bet it won’t fly with AMPAS.

One thing is for sure: Greig Fraser and Andrew Lesnie, two talents responsible for some of the most beautiful cinematography of the year, have once again received the shaft.

The nominees:

“Avatar” (Mauro Fiore)
“The Hurt Locker” (Barry Ackroyd)
“Inglourious Basterds” (Robert Richardson)
“Nine” (Dion Beebe)
“The White Ribbon” (Christian Berger)

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45 responses so far

  • 1 1-11-2010 at 12:21 pm

    Alex in Movieland said...

    wow for Berger!
    now THIS is a nice surprise!
    But can he keep up?

    too bad for Bright Star. haven’t seen it, but seemed to have a gorgeous cinematography.

    The Avatar nomination is slightly confusing. I dunno.

  • 2 1-11-2010 at 12:25 pm

    Loyal said...

    I went with

    Bright Star
    The Hurt Locker
    The White Ribbon
    alt: Inglourious Basterds

    These Bright Star snubs are really unfair.

    Avatar is having a great week. WGA (even if by default), ASC, ACE (tomorrow), 500m this weekend. All it needs is a couple of Globe wins on Sunday to top it off.

  • 3 1-11-2010 at 12:26 pm

    Harmonica said...

    I think this is our Oscar lineup.

  • 4 1-11-2010 at 12:26 pm

    Andrew said...

    Yeah, the Bright Star snub is pretty shocking indeed.

  • 5 1-11-2010 at 12:30 pm

    David said...

    Love seeing White Ribbon nominated.

  • 6 1-11-2010 at 12:31 pm

    Chris said...

    I care little about this awards season, because my favourite films of the year hardly ever show up anywhere but as a sidenote. So, it doesn’t really bother me when they’re not nominated for anything, because I love them, and what more do I want?

    But then, something like “The White Ribbon” comes along and is seen by everyone as the Best European film of the year and even scores this guild nod, when it’s really not that great. And I’ve said this before, but being black and white doesn’t make the cinematography of a film any better. That’s just lazy thinking.

  • 7 1-11-2010 at 12:35 pm

    Alex in Movieland said...

    The White Ribbon had the right cinematography, which mixed perfectly with Hanneke’s direction.

    I for one enjoyed the fire scene, the way the camera insisted on the children exactly at the right moment, the use of natural light and most importantly that sterile look, if I can call it that, simple, basic, that suited the film so well, and the characters

    imo, The White Ribbon’s problems come from the writing, as the technical aspect and especially the acting seemed flawless to me.

    and there always seems to be a movie that doesn’t get the Oscar nom. I suspect it’s gonna be The White Ribbon, replaced by Bright Star

  • 8 1-11-2010 at 12:37 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I guess I felt somewhat differently about Berger’s work:

    “Christian Berger’s exquisite monochrome lensing, meanwhile, recalls Sven Nykvist in its shadowplay as much as it does the stark landscape photography of Ansel Adams or the interior paintings of Vilhelm Hammershøi.”


    But then, I love what Ackroyd did in “The Hurt Locker” too, so I guess we’re on different pages in this category. Personally, I don’t see what’s special about Beebe’s work in “Nine,” great DP that he is.

  • 9 1-11-2010 at 12:40 pm

    david said...

    I think The White Ribbon will get a nomination…and maybe even an Oscar.

    Kris…I’m hit and miss with Haneke as a filmmaker…but I can’t believe you don’t see the quality, and sheer brillance of Christian Berger’s cinematography. Shame on you…lol.

  • 10 1-11-2010 at 12:41 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Chris: No, the black and white doesn’t make it any better — beautifully executed as it is. It’s really the composition and framing that struck me.

  • 11 1-11-2010 at 12:46 pm

    Yogsam said...

    and i thought AVATAR would get ignored by the WGA and ASC, and there it is with a nomination

    You’re the devil, Cameron! and you know it !!

  • 12 1-11-2010 at 12:47 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    I’m not completely sold on The White Ribbon either. I haven’t seen it yet though so I want to reserve any final judgment until I do, but it looked incredibly flat and dull in the trailer, kind of like turning on the B/W setting on your digital camera without paying attention to what is absolutely essential to great black and white photography: light and contrast.

    But I will have to see it first before I’ll say whether or not this is deserving.. I have doubts though.

  • 13 1-11-2010 at 12:50 pm

    Ryan said...

    I can see The Lovely Bones possibly getting on the Oscar shortlist…

  • 14 1-11-2010 at 12:51 pm

    david said...

    The cinematography of The White Ribbon is like being transported back in time to the Ingmar Bergman masterpieces of the 1950’s.

  • 15 1-11-2010 at 12:51 pm

    Cameron said...

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Kris. I thought Lesnie’s work on The Lovely Bones was the best I’ve seen all year. It’s hard to believe he’s only been nominated once.

    My personal picks for the year:

    Antichrist (Anthony Dod Mantle)
    Inglourious Basterds (Robert Richardson)
    The Lovely Bones (Andrew Lesnie)
    A Serious Man (Roger Deakins)
    Where the Wild Things Are (Lance Acord)

  • 16 1-11-2010 at 12:54 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    Oh, and I think the Avatar nomination is really rather loathsome. I haven’t been against Avatar’s nominations for other things (not even WGA) but this one is just wrong, and honestly feels like a cheat too. Being able to move your camera and light in a fully digital environment that hold no restraints feels so far removed from the real craft of cinematography.

  • 17 1-11-2010 at 12:57 pm

    david said...

    I haven’t had an opportunity to see Antichrist yet, but the trailer I caught looked riveting (even if the subject matter seemed repulsive).

    Since Dod Mantle didn’t show up here though, I would suspect he has little chance of getting a nomination.

  • 18 1-11-2010 at 12:57 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    In my view, it’s all moot anyway. Anthony Dod Mantle deserves a second-straight Oscar that he won’t receive.

  • 19 1-11-2010 at 12:58 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Guy: Yeah, we’re on different pages. And of course, I don’t necessarily think Beebe is nomination-worthy, mind you, but I did expect his work with lighting to be appreciated here.

  • 20 1-11-2010 at 1:01 pm

    N8 said...

    You’ve taken the words right out of my mouth regarding “The White Ribbon”: What’s the big deal?

    “Bright Star”, “Harry Potter”, and “The Road” all have much more interesting composition, focus work, and colour palettes (needless to say) than Haneke’s film.

  • 21 1-11-2010 at 1:06 pm

    Hans said...

    Harry Potter 6 was one of the most beautifully shot films of the year and by far of the entire franchise. It’s shocking that it’s gone unnoticed so far this season in all the tech precursors.

  • 22 1-11-2010 at 1:14 pm

    JJ said...


    Bull Sh*t.

    These films, however strong or weak they are as movies, were GORGEOUSLY filmed.

    And I’m sorry, you can not say that THE HURT LOCKER was one of the top 5 shot films of the year. The cinematography is fine, but not top 5.

    And for that matter, as much as I loved INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, that film got in because of Richardson’s name.

    And AVATAR … when Cameron himself said that the film is 70% CGI.

    The ASC should honestly be ashamed of themselves.

  • 23 1-11-2010 at 1:16 pm

    Edward L. said...

    I found The White Ribbon’s cinematography to be appropriately chilly. The images really conveyed the malignance of the narrative. I wasn’t wild about the film – I think it’s both too obvious and too oblique – but I need to see it again.

    I’m still mystified by all this snubbing of Bright Star. I’m finding it especially poignant because I thought I was going to loathe the film, and then once I saw it it turned out to be one of my favourites of the year.

  • 24 1-11-2010 at 1:24 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I actually think Basterds is one of the better shot films of the year, JJ.

  • 25 1-11-2010 at 1:25 pm

    Lance said...

    “The White Ribbon” – Probably was nominated because it’s shot in b/w. The academy is fascinated with the Holocaust and this film explores how that event came about, so don’t be surprised if this film does very well with the Oscar voters. Also, it’s a GREAT film!

    I also liked the work of “Broken Embraces” “The Prophet” and “The Road”

    I finally saw “The Lovely Bones” and the DP’s are the only people who should receive any recognition. What a mess! I laughed out loud when the mother was so distraught she needed to move and pick fruit – wtf?

  • 26 1-11-2010 at 1:29 pm

    JJ said...

    You know, I loved IB. I think it was well shot, for sure. I just think that there were other worthy films that should/could have gotten an ASC nom.

    I’m OK with IB getting it; but still think Harry 6, BS, and particularly ASM and TLB got the shaft.

  • 27 1-11-2010 at 1:30 pm

    Edward L. said...

    Lance: I think The White Ribbon was shot in colour and then processed in black and white.

    There were times, in fact, when I felt it hadn’t utilised its black-and-whiteness quite well enough. But in general, I thought its smoothness and, well, whiteness was rather disturbing.

  • 28 1-11-2010 at 1:31 pm

    Andrew2 said...

    Two comments- Bright Star should be here, but it is being snubbed so comprehensively (other than possible BAFTA) its no surprise and Avatar has alot of CGI so is it really the cinematography that should be awarded??

  • 29 1-11-2010 at 1:55 pm

    Mike_M said...

    Damn wish Andrew Lesnie made it in over Mauro Fiore. The Lovely Bones had my favorite photography of the year…

  • 30 1-11-2010 at 2:00 pm

    Mark G. said...

    Does anyone think Lance Acord has a shot for Where the Wild Things Are? I was really expecting a nom for his work today.

  • 31 1-11-2010 at 2:04 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    Assuming the Oscar line-up won’t divert too much from these films, I’m going to guess the Oscar is Ackroyd’s to lose. Richardson feels like the only real threat, but he already has two Oscars, including having won the last time he was nominated (The Aviator). I suppose Beebe could win too, though I wonder if it can overcome people’s general apathy towards the film.

    If Avatar wins the Oscar for cinematography I will be deeply unhappy.

  • 32 1-11-2010 at 2:17 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The Hurt Locker is not “pretty” enough to win the Oscar from a 6000-member strong Academy, many of whom don’t know from “good” cinematography in the first place. I’d say they’ll be on autopilot and Fiore, if nominated, wins. If not nominated, then maybe Ackroyd could get it.

    By the way, it doesn’t matter how many Oscars a lenser has or doesn’t have. Members just don’t think in those terms with the craft categories. If they did, Roger Deakins would certainly not be Oscar-less.

  • 33 1-11-2010 at 2:32 pm

    The InSneider said...

    Kris, I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Poland, but why isn’t A Single Man in the discussion for this award, and do you think the film has a shot at Best Pic, Adapted Screenplay, etc. Why is it having such a hard time finding traction? I thought it was superb. You?

  • 34 1-11-2010 at 2:40 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I have a lot of respect for it but I think it’s just a case of the lead actor caught traction early on and became the narrative of the film’s awards trajectory. I appreciated the cinematography very much, but I imagine most weren’t as moved by the overall story as they were with the leading turn.

  • 35 1-11-2010 at 2:50 pm

    The InSneider said...

    Interesting. Thanks. Always appreciate your take on things and I think you’re right about the “narrative of the film’s awards trajectory.”

    Once we get certain nominations locked in in our heads, we tend to ignore the rest of the contributions. With this in mind, do you think it’s possible we could be hearing Anthony Mackie’s name on nomination morning?

    I rewatched Hurt Locker again last night and continue to be impressed by his performance. Renner has been picking up steam lately which makes me think he is in at #4, not #5, over Freeman.

    But Mackie was just as good and really anchored that film as its mama hen. Supporting Actor seems to have become a hey- look at me! thing with all of these showy performances in movies that aren’t really all that good. Mackie’s turn was very subtle and his PR team hasn’t been campaigning that hard. He’s a real up-and-comer and there aren’t enough viable African-American leads these days. Could a nomination signal his ascension? I don’t see how The Hurt Locker works as well as it does without his excellent contributions.

  • 36 1-11-2010 at 2:55 pm

    david said...

    Kris…you really think District 9 has a better shot at taking the spot of Nine in the Best Picture category then either Star Trek or The Messenger??

    By the way, saw The Cove the other day, and I share your appreciation for this film. It’s the first movie of any kind that I’ve seen this year that brought a tear to my eye.

  • 37 1-11-2010 at 2:56 pm

    Me. said...

    Fuck them.

  • 38 1-11-2010 at 3:08 pm

    Blake said...


    I think a large reason why A Single Man isn’t being considered for its cinematography is because it is seen as too experimental amongst academy members.

    This is only my perception and a lot of this is drawn largely from my opinion, but I found the look to be too grainy and the radical changes of color within each scene to be overbearing. At times, it reminded me of a student project. I don’t mean this in the sense that it lacked professionalism. The colors of the film are striking and the DP shows promise, but sometimes I felt the cinematography was showing off simply for the sake of showing off.

    The five ASC nominees I think are in the top 7 in the running for Oscar. I’d like to think A Serious Man can find its way in, but that might be wishful thinking. It’s more understated work from Deakins. Bright Star is virtually getting ignored from the guilds, and I don’t think Oscar will change it in this category. Harry Potter seems like a possibility, but it’s an uphill battle. The Lovely Bones I think could be a spoiler. The look of the film is certainly showy, but the digital VFX sequences will largely hurt its chances of being a sure thing.

    I’m thinking:

    The Hurt Locker
    Inglourious Basterds
    A Serious Man
    The White Ribbon

    Alternate: Nine

  • 39 1-11-2010 at 3:28 pm

    Hans said...


    Make-up branch bakeoff finalists:

    “District 9”
    “Il Divo”
    “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
    “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”
    “The Road”
    “Star Trek”
    “The Young Victoria”

    Looks like you’ll have to tweak that funny (but refreshing) Cirque du Freak prediciton.

  • 40 1-11-2010 at 6:32 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    Ugh, I hope Deakins and Delbonnel replace Fiore and Beebe in the final Oscar lineup.

  • 41 1-11-2010 at 7:20 pm

    Me. said...

    Cinematography Predictions:

    Bright Star
    The Hurt Locker
    Inglourious Basterds
    The White Ribbon

    I know Nine will make it in the end but fuck, Bright Star has to be nominated here OR ELSE. I’m skeptical about Avatar, the film was great but most of it was CGI. I can see the Academy giving Avatar nominations everywhere so I’ll predict it anyways.

  • 42 1-11-2010 at 10:03 pm

    Andrew2 said...

    Me, even those who hate Bright Star or dismiss it in the other categories, seem to think its cinematography at least is nomination-worthy…I just dont get the almost universal award snub

  • 43 1-11-2010 at 11:04 pm

    Andy said...

    Just curious, Kris & Guy….I read the site near-daily and listen to the podcast…just curious about what you thought of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” Have not read a mention either way for that one on the site…. For my money, Bruno Delbonnel’s work on that one was by far my favorite cinematography of the year, and I’m not even a fan of the Potter films. Pure curiosity…

  • 44 1-12-2010 at 1:38 am

    Glenn said...

    I reckon “White Ribbon” will make it in ala “A Very Long Engagement” and the like. I’m with Guy on the merit of the cinematography. It’s not just because it’s black and white. The “Bright Star” omission is disappointing especially since I didn’t think much of the work in both “Avatar” and “Hurt Locker”.

  • 45 1-12-2010 at 2:53 am

    revoir said...

    BRUNO DELBONNEL for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” at the BAFTAs and Oscars!