The American Society of Cinematographers: Lights, Camera, Action!

11 Jan

The last of the guilds–that I follow–has announced its nominees for the year’s best. This time, it’s the American Society of Cinematographers. Here’s the short-list:

  1. Jeff Cronenweth (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  2. Hoyte van Hoytema (Tinker Tailor Solider Spy)
  3. Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
  4. Robert Richardson (Hugo)
  5. Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist)

Okay, if–and that’s a big “if”–there is a glaring omission, it is that of Janusz Kaminski for Spielberg’s War Horse.  We finally saw War Horse yesterday, and it’s a pretty good movie, but not a great one. One thing I’ll give credit to Spielberg and Kaminski for is that the movie was reportedly shot on film, bucking the trend to shoot digitally, and it looks amazing. In interviews, Spielberg even boasts that there are very few CGI shots in the whole film. In other words, much of the movie’s spectacle was created live and in camera rather than produced later in the lab.  That’s way cool, but I do think there is something a bit “off” in that this film, which is about WWI, feels less like a movie shot on location today and more like a movie about WWI as it would have been made in Hollywood during the 1930s, ’40s, or ’50s, and I do not know if that is a good thing or not. It seems strangely retrograde. That noted, I must, of course, add that if War Horse had come out in the early-to-mid 1930’s it would have been in black and white.

This is all the commentary I have time for tonight, but I definitely have more to add. There is a lot going in awards land over the next several days, and I hope to cover most of it.

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