ASC awards Emmanuel Lubezki and 'The Tree of Life' best cinematography of 2011

Posted by · 8:57 pm · February 12th, 2012

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) held its annual awards ceremony this evening, honoring achievement in feature film photography. After dominating the precursor circuit with win after win for his beautiful work on Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” Emmanuel Lubezki walked away with the top prize from his peers.

Will he put a cherry on top of the season in two weeks with an Oscar win, though? I’m still not entirely convinced. And Lubezki is no stranger to having the carpet pulled out from underneath him when he looked like a no-brainer (losing in 2006 to “Pan’s Labyrinth” when his work on “Children of Men” seemed like the one to beat).

Tuesday brings the first part of our fifth annual “Top 10 Shots of the Year” column, and in preparation for that, I’ve been talking to a lot of lensers lately. The vibe I got was that, surprisingly enough, Jeff Cronenweth’s work on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” not Robert Richardson’s 3D photography on “Hugo” or Guillaume Schiffman’s black-and-white lensing of Best Picture frontrunner “The Artist,” was the one giving Lubezki a run for his money. Fascinating, that.

And speaking of Richardson, who is a two-time Oscar winner, he’s now 0/10 with the ASC. How does that happen?

The other nominee was Hoyte van Hoytema for his work on “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” which was replaced by Janusz Kaminski’s lensing of “War Horse” by the Academy. Kaminski’s ASC snub came as no surprise to him when we spoke briefly at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards last month. “I’m not a member,” he said. Indeed, he resigned from the Society in 2006, but was nominated by them the very next year for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” so I’m not sure how much of an impact his no longer being in “the club” really had. And he might be formidable at the Oscars. “War Horse” sure was purty.

Nevertheless, I’m still counting on Richardson and “Hugo” to prevail in two weeks’ time. For now. It’s one of the more difficult categories to predict this season, I feel.

Previously announced honorary ASC winners were Harrison Ford, Francis Kenny and (a personal favorite) Dante Spinotti.

Don’t forget to check back Tuesday for the first part of our top 10 shots column. And Thursday, we’ll be closing up the weekly Tech Support Interview Series with a chat with, ironically enough, Emmanuel Lubezki.

As always, remember to keep track of the ups and downs of the film awards season via The Circuit.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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