2016 Oscars: Cinematography

Continuing my series of 2016 Oscars posts, which will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the three weeks leading up to the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 28.

NOMINEES FOR CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Who Will Win: The Revenant
Who Could Win: Max Max: Fury Road
Who Should Win: The Revenant
Who Should Be Here: The Martian (but not over any of these five)

I hate the fact that I can’t say anything for Sicario here, because I really loved how Roger Deakins shot the film. The moody, spare photography really lent to the feeling of unease that permeated that entire film. The climatic scene was also outstanding – such a different take on the usual green night goggle military scene. It was really beautiful.

But, alas, there must only be one winner, and that is Emmanuel Lubezki, who will likely be winning his third consecutive Oscar for The Revenant (he won for Birdman and Gravity). The Revenant was a beautifully shot film, shot entirely with natural light. The natural look added to the feeling of cold, of isolation, that was at the forefront of the film. The stark and beautiful scenery really came across well.

Nipping at The Revenant’s heals is Max Max: Fury Road. You’ll quickly realize through my posts that I don’t see Mad Max as a great film. I’ll sum up my feelings here: it’s a two hour car chase. It’s a really good two hour car chase (and a tiring one). But it’s a two hour car chase. However – it’s photography is undeniably good, and part of what (tries to) lift the film above just a car chase. The color is vivid, and almost becomes a character in a way – you can feel the brightness and the heat coming through the screen.

Lastly, but certainly not least, are two very different period films. Carol has the feel of a movie shot in the time of its era – the early 1950s – with a lot of close, personal shots of the two main characters. The Hateful Eight looks and feels every bit like the Sergio Leone westerns from which it was inspired. But neither come even with the aforementioned three.

I guess the real question is now: What will Lubezki shoot next?