Oscar Handicap 2008: Cinematography

For this article, we will examine how the directors of photography stack up against each other.

(For explanations as to how our scoring system works, make sure to read our first article in the series, Best Picture of the Year, linked at the bottom of this article.)

The discipline of making lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images, the Cinematographer works with the director to decide the overall look of the film. Purists have lamented the rise of digital intermediate technology, where the director and cinematographer can fine-tune the look of individual scenes and even single frames by computer, is quickly killing the fine art of cinematography, but until the Academy creates a Best DI category, this is what we’ll have to deal with.

The Breakdowns

1) Cinematographers nominated for the ASC Award have won the Oscar 19 of the 21 times the former’s awards have been given out (90.48%). Advantage: All cinematographers

2) Shooters of stories not predominantly set in the present or past decade have won 26 of the past 29 times (89.66%). Advantage: Deakins (both films), Elswit, McGarvey

3) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film at the time of the nominations, you’ve won 26 of 29 times (89.66). Advantage: Deakins (both films), Elswit, McGarvey

4) Cinematography winners have come from films whose directors have also been nominated 22 of 29 times (75.86%). Advantage: Deakins (No Country), Elswit, Kaminsky

5) Cinematographers who have been able to shoot large crowd scenes have won 22 of 29 times (75.86%). Advantage: Deakins (Assassination), McGarvey

6) Cinematography winners have come from a Best Picture nominee 21 of 29 times (72.41%). Advantage: Deakins (No Country), Elswit

7) Cinematography awards have been given to films also nominated for Best Art Direction 21 of 29 times (72.41%). Advantage: Elswit, McGarvey

8) Cinematography winners who are not first-time nominees have won 17 of 29 times (58.62%). Advantage: Deakins (both films), Elswit, Kaminski

By The Numbers

Will this finally be the year Roger Deakins wins one? It’s not likely, even though his handling of Jesse James is one of the best examples of modern cinematography.

Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, -6, -7, +8 (133 of 224, 59.38%)

Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, -7, +8 (146 of 224, 65.18%)

Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, +7, +8 (159 of 224, 70.98%)

Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: +1, -2, -3, +4, -5, -6, -7, +8 (87 of 224, 38.84%)

Seamus McGarvey, Atonement: +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, -6, +7, -8 (141 of 224, 62.95%)

Personal prediction for Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood

Personal favorite amongst the nominees: Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jesse James

All articles in this series:

Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Score, Best Editing and Best Art Direction
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature

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