2019 Oscars: Cinematography

Previously, in Jack’s 2019 Oscar coverage…

January 28 – Best Picture
January 31 – Editing
February 4 – Supporting Actress
February 7 – Leading Actor
February 11 – Supporting Actor
February 14 – Leading Actress
February 18 – Director
February 19 – Original Screenplay
February 20 – Adapted Screenplay


February 24 – Final Predictions on Oscar Night

Today…Best Cinematography

The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Cold War, Lukasz Zal
A Star Is Born, Matty Libatique
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel***

Who will win: Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Who could win: Cold War, Lukasz Zal
Who should win: Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Who should be here: First Man, Linus Sandgren and If Beale Street Could Talk, James Laxton

Let’s start with a confession: for the first time in years, I did not complete one of my primary Oscar categories…this one.

Never Look Away is a relatively obscure (in the United States anyway) three hour German film…kinda hard to believe it isn’t in any major theaters here. Unlike members of the Academy who receive screeners for all of the films in contention, most of the films I write about I see in the actual movie theaters (and the rest I find on demand) After spending weeks looking for Never Look Away, hoping it would arrive on demand or somewhere within 50 miles of my home, I threw in the towel on it.

Le sigh.

Like with director, Roma, Alfonso Cuarón are going to run away with this one. For more detail, see my Director piece from earlier this week, but Cuarón really painted a masterpiece of photography here, lovingly setting up and executing each shot to its fullest.

The film with possibly the best chance to upset the odds on favorite (in my opinion anyway) is Cold War, another beautifully shot foreign period piece in black and white. The jazz club scenes in particular really stuck with me from this film; very seldom have I seen a cinematographer capture mood so well.

The cinematography of The Favourite and A Star is Born were both very solid and well done, but I don’t remember feeling blown away by the photography as much as another pair of criminally overlooked films this Oscar season: First Man and If Beale Street Could Talk. As for the latter, First Man employed a very difficult to pull off up close and personal style, which was surprising for a Neal Armstrong biopic. I would have thought more wide shots, given the expanse of the subject matter, plus biopics often look for a more “realistic” cinematic approach. Beale Street had some of the best motion I’ve seen in film this year, making the camera almost a character on its own in a much less showy way than Birdman a few years ago.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful oner in another massively overlooked film: The Front Runner. It’s a great story, but you could watch that film for its opening scene alone.