And the Winner is… Production Nominees for Oscars 2018: Cinematography
As we swiftly approach the annual traditional Oscar season. The BPS team takes a quick look at this year’s Cinematography nods. With a mixture of intense visual feasts, fantastic dreamscapes and historical period settings. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at those nominations.
Blade Runner: 2049
- 2017, Denis Villeneuve (Dir). Columbia Pictures
- Cameras used: ARRI Alexa Mini, ARRI Alexa Plus and ARRI Alexa XT Studio.
- Shot with Zeiss Master Prime Lenses
- Cinematography by Roger Deakins
A long-awaited sequel to the post-modern sci-fi noir of Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner (1982), Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner: 2049 proved a crucial release of 2017. following his prolific rise to fame following Arrival (2016), Sicario (2015) and Prisoners (2013), Villeneuve’s ethereal and philosophical filmmaking made a perfect match for veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins. With a blistering design palate of a futuristic Los Angeles, telling the story of a Replicant Detective, known as the eponymous ‘Blade Runner’ Joe (Ryan Gosling). Blade Runner 2049 delves deep into the matters of consciousness, humanity and existentialism in this grim, dark future.
‘From the opening aerial shots of a thoroughly denatured agricultural landscape and the lethal confrontation that follows, we know we are in the presence of a masterly visual tactician and a shrewd storyteller.’
– New York Times
‘Together with DP Roger Deakins (in the most spectacular of their three collaborations) and a gifted team of design artists (led by “Spectre” production designer Dennis Gassner), Villeneuve offers a bracing vision of where humankind is headed, iconically lit in amber, neon hues and stark fluorescent white.’
‘But it’s also there in Roger Deakins’s head-spinning cinematography – which, when it’s not gliding over dust-blown deserts and teeming neon chasms, keeps finding ingenious ways to make faces and bodies overlap, blend and diffuse.’
- 2018, Joe Wright (Dir). Focus Features
- Cameras used: ARRI Alexa Mini, ARRI Alexa SXT Plus.
- Shot with Cooke S4 and Angenieux Optimo Lenses
- Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel
No stranger to period drama, thanks to previous works such as Anna Karenina (2012), Atonement (2007) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Joe Wright tackles the tumultuous period of Winston Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) first few months in office, staring down the threat of imminent German invasion with gruff, wit and staunch determination. Utilizing a more passive and naturalistic style, this is a film focused on a singular man and the events he tackles, at his darkest hour. Working with cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, it marks a calmer and mediated counter to the other film set during the Dunkirk crisis…
‘Mass Observation-inspired documentary style to create a kind of epic naturalism, Wright zooms bullishly in and out of his exquisitely appointed set-ups, his camera sometimes literally hovering above them.’
– Radio Times
‘This is a chamber piece, but one done on an epic scale. The camera never stops moving. Every so often, Wright throws in surprising formal flourishes to take us away from the talking heads.’
- 2017, Christopher Nolan (Dir). Warner Bros.
- Cameras used: IMAX Mk. IV, IMAX MSM 9802, Panavision 65 HR Camera and Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio.
- Shot with Panavision Sphero 65 and Hasselblad Lenses
- Cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema
A director known for his intense, unique and immense visuals. Christopher Nolan certainly marks himself out from the rest of the crowd here, with his continuing passion for traditional film stock cameras as opposed to the widely adopted digital format, mixed with the extensive use of the IMAX large format framing. Leaping from the early success of Memento (2000), Nolan’s work on surreal sci-fi Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014) comes down to earth with this realistic and brutal telling of the Dunkirk evacuation. Teaming up once more with contributor Hoyte van Hoytema, to deliver an impactful and vast production.
‘Dunkirk hews towards the arthouse, with the melancholy, spume-flecked tableaux it lingers on beautifully photographed by Interstellar DP Hoyte Van Hoytema.’
‘Top-marks work has been turned in across the board here, notably by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, whose second consecutive feature with Nolan was shot on a combination of IMAX and 65mm film to stunning effect with a boxy aspect ratio; the format certainly plays a significant role in one’s almost instantaneous immersion in the world of the film.’
– Hollywood Reporter
‘It’s very much a story of land, sea and air and all three elements look jaw-dropping, shot meticulously by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (Her, Interstellar, Spectre) on IMAX 65mm film stock.”
- 2017, Dee Rees (Dir). Netflix
- Cameras used: ARRI Alexa Mini.
- Shot with Panavision C & D Series Anamorphic Lenses.
- Cinematography by Rachel Morrison
In a year that has brought us many challenging and unique films tackling racial representation, such as Get Out (2017) and Black Panther (2018), Dee Rees’s Mudbound stands in this list very much as the independent choice, however with the unique distribution of being released simultaneously in cinema and Netflix streaming. Telling the migration of two families, one black, one white, during the backdrop of the 1940’s American Deep South. Tackling issues of PTSD, segregation and poverty in hand with visuals by Rachel Morrison. This nomination is also a historic one as the first female cinematographer to receive an Oscar nod in this category.
‘Cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, brings the soil, the flora and the weather to life in a way that emphasizes the archaic, elemental power of the story.’
– New York Times
‘Cinematographer Rachel Morrison supplies widescreen views of dramatic Mississippi sunsets, rain-drenched fields, and makeshift wooden houses that look ready to collapse in on themselves.’
‘Rachel Morrison’s cinematography provides the visual evidence. Morrison makes this world look both enduring and unsettling, the kind of place whose spirit creeps into your bones.’
The Shape of Water
- 2018, Guillermo del Toro (Dir). Fox Searchlight Pictures
- Cameras used: ARRI Alexa Mini, ARRI Alexa XT Plus.
- Shot with Zeiss Master Prime and Fujinon Alura Lenses
- Cinematography by Dan Laustsen
The ‘Maestro of Monsters’, Guillermo del Toro, returns in this fantasy romance. Noted for his earlier work of critically-acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy (2004) and Pacific Rim (2013), del Toro as ever strides the line between arthouse and mainstream, with an infusion of the Mexican cinema of his roots. Telling the story of mute janitor Elisa (Sally Hawkins), working for a mysterious research facility in which she encounters the ‘Asset’ (frequent del Toro collaborator, Doug Jones), in the backdrop of 60’s Cold War American paranoia with a fairy-tale twist. Whilst often credited as a pure fantasy director, there are always elements of reality and darkness reflected by the fiction in del Toro’s work. Helped brought to life by the visuals and shot design of Dan Lausten in this romantic creature-feature.
‘Luis Sequeira’s costumes and Paul D Austerberry’s production designs make this blue-green fantasy world real, while Dan Laustsen’s cameras flow like water around the drama, their movement providing the cue for Alexandre Desplat’s lovely score, which juxtaposes jaunty accordions with breathy flutes – musical dialogue for wordless characters.’
‘The Shape of Water is a movie that will grow with repeat watches, quiet side stories getting louder with familiarity. On first viewing, it’s a flood of wondrous moments and sinister, beautiful images. As it settles, as you think about it for weeks after, its deeper meanings rise to the surface.’
‘The film commits to each and every one of these moments, big and small, with an honesty and warmth that’s reflected in every aspect of its craft, from Dan Laustsen’s luminous cinematography to Alexandre Desplat’s elegantly swooning score.’
As always, we wish all the nominees the best of luck and success on the night. Regardless of the outcome, it is always of keen interest which films receive the nod, especially in regards to cinematography. With the keen use of the ARRI Alexa Mini system, we are seeing an increasingly open ground for new distribution methods such as Netflix to deliver cinema quality visuals.
Credits & Article Links
Blade Runner: 2049
The Shape of Water