Predict the ASC nominees

Posted by · 9:32 am · January 10th, 2011

Now that the DGA has spoken, something to pass the time.  Tomorrow the crafts guilds continue to roll out the season as the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) offers its picks for the best work behind the camera in 2010.  This is perhaps my favorite of the below-the-line categories, so I thought I’d offer up a lengthy preview.

The Society is usually good for 80% when it comes to Academy crossover with its nominees. Sometimes you get a 5/5, sometimes a 3/5, but generally it’s 4/5. The trick is figuring out what the oddball selection will be. But let’s see what’s looking good for a nod, first.

Leading the way this time around, like most years, would have to be Roger Deakins. His work on “True Grit” will likely win him an Oscar and the road there could very well begin with a win from the Society. He seems to be papa bear these days. Chalk it up.

Next up would have to be wunderkind Wally Pfister. He’s been on a roll as of late, earning Oscar nominations for his last three shots on goal. The ASC did not, however, nominate him for “The Prestige,” but that probably isn’t indicative of much. “Inception” should be seen as a safe bet here.

Matthew Libatique gave an identity to “Black Swan” that is undeniable. The Super 16 format made for a gritty quality that I personally have issues with, but the composition and lighting is all top notch and I can only imagine his colleagues feel the same way. I’m a bit ambivalent to consider this in the same breath as the front-running contenders this year, but I’m anticipating a nomination nevertheless.

Then there’s Robert Richardson. I’ve had him chalked up as a predicted nominee since the first set of 2010 guesses hit the sidebar, and I have little reason to doubt him now. “Shutter Island” is doing well with the craft guilds so far and lensers will understand what’s going on stylistically in this film even if prickly critics don’t. Plus, the ASC has seen fit to nominate Richardson even when the Academy’s cinematography branch has not (“A Few Good Men,” “Heaven & Earth,” “The Horse Whisperer”). So I think he’s a decent bet.

So what gets the fifth spot? Let’s ponder…

The ASC tends to show an affinity for digital work more so than the Academy’s cinematography branch. Examples of nominees that missed with Oscar recognition are “Collateral” and “Apocalypto.” That may have changed for good in 2008 when “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” made it in. And Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle’s work on “127 Hours” has been universally praised this year, with most expecting an Oscar nod, so I’d be tempted to lean that way. But it’s tough to think things will match Oscar 100% here, and those five are what I’m predicting at the moment.

Speaking of digital, things could be looking up for Jeff Cronweth, who bathed “The Social Network” in somber but beautifully rendered tones. The film is doing well on the crafts guild circuit so a nomination here would not surprise me in the slightest. And let’s not forget he’s a second-generation lenser, being the son of “Blade Runner” and “Altered States” DP Jordan Cronenweth.

I think it would be worth it to keep an eye on the well-respected Robert Elswit. “The Town” has been knocking down guild citation after guild citation, so the lensers following suit wouldn’t be a shock.

Another film that could further reflect broad approval with a nod here is “The King’s Speech.” Danny Cohen is a bit of an outsider, but many love the unexpected visual quality of this film. That said, a great many were rubbed wrong by that look.

Russell Boyd has only one Oscar nod and one ASC nod to his credit, despite a distinguished career. Both were for the same film: “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.” And “The Way Back” will be a considerably steeper climb. I still wonder if guild members have even had a chance to see it yet.

Some might be quick to spring for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” but let’s face facts. Last year’s installment was the first of the franchise to receive an Oscar nomination, and no film from the series has been cited by the Society to date. Nor has Eduardo Serra, for that matter.

The only other possibility that seems intriguing is Hoyte Van Hoytema’s lensing of “The Fighter,” if only for bringing in the interesting early-90s television look for fight scenes. Plus, it could indicate overall approval of the film.

Alright, enough hedging. I’m on the record, but I think I’ll (probably unwisely) stick with the five I’m predicting for Oscar, so:

“Black Swan” (Matthew Libatique)
“Inception” (Wally Pfister)
“127 Hours” (Enrique Chediak, Anthony Dod Mantle)
“Shutter Island” (Robert Richardson)

“True Grit” (Roger Deakins)

With Cronenweth as a potential spoiler for Richardson. What about you?

[Photo: Paramount Pictures]

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27 responses so far

  • 1 1-10-2011 at 9:42 am

    red_wine said...

    The Social Network
    127 Hours
    Black Swan
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

  • 2 1-10-2011 at 9:46 am

    Maxim said...

    I’m predicting someone will take offense to this:

    “lensers will understand what’s going on stylistically in this film even if prickly critics don’t.”

  • 3 1-10-2011 at 9:47 am

    Hans said...

    Kris, do you think the concept of “due” exists when it comes to below the line categories? Like, will Academy members at large care that Roger Deakins doesn’t have an Oscar as much someone like Kate Winslet? I ask because I’ve heard from some that True Grit’s cinematography, though brilliant, isn’t usually up to his usual levels of brilliance (haven’t seen it for myself yet), possibly opening up the door for Libatique or Pfister if either film is a crafts beast.

  • 4 1-10-2011 at 9:47 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    Deakins, Libatique, Cronenweth, Richardson, Pfister.

  • 5 1-10-2011 at 9:48 am

    Andrej said...

    Black Swan, Inception, 127 Hours, True Grit, Winter’s Bone.

  • 6 1-10-2011 at 9:50 am

    Maxim said...

    Hans, I think you should ask Kevin O’Connell what he thinks about that. He probably has a speech ready.

  • 7 1-10-2011 at 9:51 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Hans: Not really. I think, frankly, Academy members at large are probably unaware that people like Deakins, O’Connell, Greg Russell, etc. don’t have an Oscar yet after plenty of nominations.

  • 8 1-10-2011 at 10:02 am

    americanrequeim said...

    i say replace 127 hours with the social network and you have our 5

  • 9 1-10-2011 at 10:15 am

    Jacob S. said...

    No love for “Somewhere”? :(

  • 10 1-10-2011 at 10:15 am

    Drew said...

    127 Hours
    Black Swan
    The Social Network
    True Grit

    Alternate, The Fighter over The Social Network.

    Sorry to trouble anyone, but does anyone know when the editors announce their nominees?

  • 11 1-10-2011 at 10:31 am

    Mike Smolinski said...

    127 Hours
    Black Swan
    True Grit
    The Way Back

  • 12 1-10-2011 at 10:34 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Drew: Friday

  • 13 1-10-2011 at 10:44 am

    Cameron said...

    Enrique Chediak & Anthony Dod Mantle – 127 Hours
    Matthew Libatique – Black Swan
    Wally Pfister – Inception
    Jeff Cronenweth – The Social Network
    Roger Deakins – True Grit

    I was predicting Shutter Island but I figure Cronenweth is somewhat overdue for a nod.
    Deakins for the win, Libatique for the upset.

  • 14 1-10-2011 at 11:00 am

    Andy said...

    I completely agree that the ‘due’ factor doesn’t really apply in the tech categories. Poor Deakins: So consistently beautiful, too consistently non-flashy enough for the Oscar win.

    All things considered, I fully expect ‘Inception’ to absolutely clean up in the tech categories, Pfister included.

  • 15 1-10-2011 at 11:04 am

    Justin said...

    Drew: The American Cinema Editors(ACE Eddies) announce their nominees on the 14th.

  • 16 1-10-2011 at 11:13 am

    Mike_M said...

    I would love Social Network to get in there over 127 Hours….

  • 17 1-10-2011 at 11:16 am

    Dooby said...

    I REALLY hope it’s your nominees Kris. I have my fingers crossed for Shutter Island which really deserves this.

  • 18 1-10-2011 at 11:17 am

    Graysmith said...

    I’ve got the same five as Kris. It’d be fun if there would be some surprise choice (although I’m sure if Shutter Island gets nominated tomorrow the mainstream entertainment media will call that a surprise), but those five seem the most probable to me, with The King’s Speech as a possible spoiler.

  • 19 1-10-2011 at 12:14 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “Never Let Me Go?”

  • 20 1-10-2011 at 12:17 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Could they throw in Dean Semler for “Secretariat,” just to infuriate everyone? So many sunsets in that one.

  • 21 1-10-2011 at 12:30 pm

    Ivan said...

    127 HOURS

  • 22 1-10-2011 at 1:15 pm

    Weliton Vicente said...

    Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
    Roger Deakins,True Grit
    Wally Pfister, Inception
    Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network
    Danny Cohen, The King’s Speech

    Alternate: Enrique Chediak Anthony Dod Mantle, 127 Hours

  • 23 1-10-2011 at 1:28 pm

    Lenny said...

    Here are my predictions for the ASC nominees…

    Matthew Libatique = Black Swan
    Wally Pfister = Inception
    Jeff Cronenweth = The Social Network
    Robert Richardson = Shutter Island
    Roger Deakins = True Grit

    Alt: Anthony Dod Mantle & Enrique Chediak = 127 Hours OR Danny Cohen = The King’s Speech

    Could easily see my two alternates replacing Social Network and Shutter Island. I think Black Swan, Inception, and True Grit are locks for nods from the cinematographers. Given the love for Social Network from critics groups and its unwavering momentum throughout this Oscar season, I think it’s very possible it could show up here. I also think the respect factor for Richardson will carry him through for a nomination.

  • 24 1-10-2011 at 5:48 pm

    DylanS said...

    I believe they’ve been posted! I think, at least. The presentation isn’t very bold, but here’s the link.

  • 25 1-10-2011 at 6:21 pm

    Lenard Weinstein said...

    1) Roger Deakins, True Grit
    2) Wally Pfister, Inception
    3) Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
    4) Anthony Dod Mantle & Enrique Chediak, 127 Hours
    5) Wild card: Rodrigo Prieto, Biutiful, but more likely Robert Richardson, Shutter Island

  • 26 1-10-2011 at 6:40 pm

    Andrew Rech said...

    I really can’t get behind the Cohen nomination. The cinematography in the scene with Rush and Firth in the fog was quite beautiful, but all those weird way to the left/right shots like Firth in the chair in Rush’s office or that big overhead shot towards the end were distracting. I appreciate some of the risks but I don’t think they paid off for the most part.