Though beauty is often a prerequisite what makes these films stand out in the best cinematography entries are they thoroughly executed a director’s vision. All have a distinct look, feeling, and communicated a memorable experience for its audience.  It might be the toughest category to predict since any of them have a shot at winning.

The Artist – Guillaume Schiffman
Any black and white film released in the recent decades usually always garners a nomination in this category, but Guillaume Schiffman’s work in The Artist is defiantly something special. Making a silent film was a risky endeavor, which was last seen in Mel Brook’s Silent Movie in 1976. Given the task to create an authentic look of a movie made in the 1920s, (shot in the 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio), Schiffman succeeded in creating one of the most nostalgic films in years.  If the movie ends up sweeping the major categories that include: Best Picture, actor, director, and original screenplay, it could defiantly win.
 

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Jeff Cronenweth
How does one describe the look of a David Fincher movie?  All of his films have a distinct, and moody quality to them.  His expert lighting has become his signature visual style. Fincher and photographer Jeff Cronenweth are always in control of their images, and have a clear vision in mind. Cronenweth who has worked with Fincher on Fight Club and The Social Network defiantly has a creative eye for Fincher’s vision. His dark, but beautiful, work on Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is defiantly worthy of a win. Cronenweth was nominated in this category last year for The Social Network.  Will a win be likely? It’s a left field choice. None of Fincher’s movies have won this category, and it might be time that one does.
 

The Tree of Life – Emmanuel Lubezki
Why this guy doesn’t a hand full of Oscars already is beyond me. Having previously been nominated for Children of Men, The New World, Sleepy Hollow, and A Little Princess, his work on Tree of Life reunites him with Terrence Malick. There’s a lot of love for Lubezki in the film community, and his lack of win is defiantly a sign that this finally might be his year. His awe worthy work Tree of Life has some of the most stunning camera work of the year. He’s perfectly matched with Malick, and his fluid steady cam shots have never been as beautiful as they are in this film.  Great cinematography should evoke a feeling, and capture a moment.  Lubezki does just this on Tree of Life.
 

Hugo – Robert Richardson
One of the many strengths of Robert Richardson is that he knows how to shoot for scale, especially when having the backdrop of an already impressive set piece.  That’s probably the reason why the greats such as Martin Scorsese work with him.  The train station scenes are a perfect example of Richardson eye for space and composition.  Richardson’s work on Hugo was most exciting uses of 3D this year, and much of the film’s success could be attributed to his expertise behind the lense.  This film could easily sweep the technical categories, if so a win could happen.
 

War Horse – Janusz Kaminski
Looking at Janusz Kaminski’s impressive resume you’ll find great films such as: Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. He has two Oscars for cinematography, both for Spielberg movies.  War Horse is definitely a gorgeously photographed film that’s worthy to stand up against his past work.  Kaminski’s camera work resembles an oil painting.  One could almost frame every still of the film, and put in on display in a gallery. The scene that comes to mind is the slowed down tracking shot of the British cavalry ridding through a grain field. Does cinematography really get any better than this powerful moment?  Whenever Kaminski ends up in this category he always has a chance of winning.

 

Will Win: If you had to separate one out from the group Tree of Life might have the upper hand since this is Lubezki’s fifth nomination. He’s overdue for a win, and should have won for Children of Men back in 2007.  Though one could make the argument that Tree of Life left many viewers cold, it certainly isn’t the case with the academy voters since it ended up getting nominated for picture and director.  If it takes home any Oscars it’s going to be in this category.  I have a feeling this is the year he wins.

 

Could Upset: With a category this strong any of them could take home the Oscar.  Each would be a worthy, and be a well-deserved win.

 

 

Road to the Oscars Series

January 27: Best Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

January 31: Best Animated Short – Savanna New

February 1: Best Documentary Short – Christa Youngpeter

February 2: Best Documentary – Dantzler Smith

February 3: Best Foreign Language Film – Steve Neumann

February 4: Best Visual Effects – Michael Benedict

February 5: Best Sound Editing – Michael Benedict

February 6: Best Sound Mixing – Joseph Doherty

February 7: Best Makeup – Katie Mae Peters

February 8: Best Costume Design – Jax Russo

February 9: Best Art Direction – Scott Youngbauer

February 10: Best Film Editing – Michael Benedict

February 11: Best Cinematography – Scott Youngbauer

February 12: Best Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 13: Best Original Song – Adam Spunberg

February 14: Best Animated Feature Film – Steve Neumann

February 15: Best Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Best Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Best Supporting Actor – Joseph Doherty

February 18: Best Supporting Actress – Angela Stern

February 20: Best Actress – Andrew Payne

February 21: Best Actor – Kit Bowen

February 22: Best Director – Andrew Payne

February 23: Best Picture – Kit Bowen