2017 Oscars: Cinematography

So it’s that time again – when I blow up your social media feeds with a flurry of Oscar posts that talk about films that most of you haven’t heard of. I’ll do this right up until Oscar night, then take the entire month of March off because, let’s face it, after 350 blog posts over the years, it’s hard for even me to come up with a well-thought out opinion 52 times a year (however, half-baked ones are in long supply).

Moving into the second week of these posts, today we’re going to talk about Best Cinematography.

ARRIVAL – Bradford Young
LA LA LAND – Linus Sandgren
LION – Greig Fraser
MOONLIGHT – James Laxton
SILENCE – Rodrigo Prieto

Who will win: Linus Sandgren
Who could win: Bradford Young
Who should win: Linus Sandgren
Who should be here: Giles Nuttgens, Hell or High Water

So here’s a thing: No one has won the Best Cinematography Oscar since 2013 who isn’t named Emmanuel Lubezki. Somewhat ridiculously, Lubezki has won three straight gold statues for Gravity, Bidman and The Revenant. But since Lubezki decided to take 2016 off (okay, not really, but he didn’t release a film this year), someone else is going to have a chance to get the gold this year.

My money is on Linus Sandgren, who shot the beautiful La La Land. Maybe this is only a thing for cinema nerds, but it’s really, really cool that this one was shot on film, in CinemaScope and Technicolor.

I guess many of you are going huh?

I’m glad you asked, because it’s fun to talk about this shit. So sometime after the turn of the millennium, they invented this thing called the digital camera, which essentially records film to a hard drive. Before that, films were shot on, you know, film – a souped up version of what you used to use in your Kodaks. Film has a certain look to it – softer edges that interpret colors and edges in a smoother, warmer way. So some prefer it. But more importantly, musicals were a thing in the 40s and 50s, so if you’re going to do a throw-back film to the musicals of the 40s and 50s, you need to shoot using the same things they had so they look the same.

Okay, you’re bored. I’ll move on. La La Land is beautiful and Sandgren is highly deserving to win, but I’m expecting him to sail through on the seemingly unbeatable La La Land ticket. His main competition is Bradford Young for Arrival. The two films couldn’t be more different. while Sandgren’s shots were active, warm and alive, Bradford’s filming was quiet, soft, pensive and moody, adding a whole new dimension to the film that wouldn’t exist with a different feel.

I had a hard time, again for some reason, choosing someone who should have made the list, because not only are Sandgren and Young highly deserving, but so are Fraser, Laxton and Prieto for their excellent work. Since it’s subjective and I’m the one doing the picking, I thought Nuttgens deserved a look. Run a Google image search on Hell or High Water and you’ll see why. The images are stunning, both in their framing and their color palette. Almost made me want to move to West Texas.