VIDEO: What Does Oscar-Winning Cinematography Look Like?

VIDEO: What Does Oscar-Winning Cinematography Look Like?

As a bonus to the “Who Should Win” video essay series that identifies this year’s truly deserving Oscar winners, this video compiles some of the most impressive visuals from the five films nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography. Of all the Oscar categories, this one may lend itself best to a simple video compilation of clips that lets you decide for yourself which movie deserves to win.  All you have to do is watch and decide. Or is it really that simple?

Of course, one can’t evaluate all the films in their entirety in one sitting. I’ve limited the selections for each film to two standout clips not exceeding a total of 90 seconds. To do this, I enlisted the suggestions of the Twittersphere. Over a dozen people tweeted their standout shots and images from the nominated films, with several moments getting multiple mentions and thus finding their way into this compilation reel. Based on sheer number of enthusiastic tweets on their behalf, it seems that Skyfall and Lincoln are the popular favorites.

I made one additional tweak to the video by removing the audio from the clips. It may be a bit jarring to watch these scenes without a soundtrack, but it’s for the sake of placing sole emphasis on the images and camerawork. I hope you’ll agree with me that, by and large, the visual artistry on display speaks quite well for itself.

Looking at these clips, I have my own opinion on who should win, but I’ll keep mum, as I’d rather see you cast your vote in the comments section. Perhaps a subsequent discussion below might tease out my favorite.

6 thoughts on “VIDEO: What Does Oscar-Winning Cinematography Look Like?”

  1. First off, unfortunately the only exception being Skyfall, I haven't seen any of these films.
    That being said Deakins should win. He is a true master of light. Unfortunately the ill informed academy members will most likely give it to Life of Pi. I say unfortunate because the ability to shoot a green screen well, although challenging does make for superior cinematography. The look of Pi is purely in the hand of the VFX artists and not the cinematographer.
    It reminds me of when Aviator won for best cinematography. The award should have gone to the color grader not the cinematographer. But to most members voting if it looks pretty that's the winner, without any real understanding for how the look was attained.


  2. My choice for the year is the beautiful period work in "The Master," but seeing as that is woefully under-recognized by the Academy, I'm forced to choose my close second place pick: Roger Deakins' gloriously theatrical work on "Skyfall."


  3. I'm with Eamon on this one. To my knowledge the consensus favorite was Life of Pi and I'm assuming the 3D aspect (somewhat unfortunately) has a lot to do with that. However, shot for shot, Deakins and his ALEXA Studio gave the most stunning visual representation for any film in 2012. The only film I can think of coming close to matching it (A Royal Affair) is only nominated for Best Foreign. My other favorite, Beasts of the Southern Wild, was unfortunately ignored as well- possibly due to the fact the AMPAS members have yet to warm up to the handheld doc. style of shooting. What I THINK will happen: advanced technology and a fondness for animals will sway the vote & Miranda will get the Oscar, especially if this report is accurate and Deakins one again finds himself in a split-vote favorite situation with Kaminski (who didn't even come remotely close to matching the work he did on The Diving Bell & the Butterfly). Still, I'll be pulling for Deakins in a Scorsese/Departed-like victory where they finally, justly, acknowledge one of the most respected artists in their field. One of the categories I always look forward to more than just about any other.

    All that said, 2013 is already looking like it's shaping up to be the best year for Cinematography since 2007.


  4. Skyfall for sure should win! Roger Deakins never winning an Oscar proves they are political and not soley based on talent.


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