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Cinematography Revealed

Nice Vanity Fair piece about the cinematography of the nominated films:

The Hurt Locker’s director of photography, Barry Ackroyd, uses Super-16 cameras to create a raw, documentary feel for his sun-drenched canvas in Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraqi War drama. Christian Berger, meanwhile, channels the poignant black-and-white photography of Ingmar Bergman’s legendary D.P., Sven Nykvist, in Michael Haneke’s disturbing period piece The White Ribbon, about the banality of evil in pre-World War One Germany. The grizzled veteran nom goes to two-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson for complementing the sardonic tone of Inglourious Basterds with hard lights and deliberate angles, casting dramatic shadows over the actors’ mugs. And Bruno Delbonnel drapes a C.G.I.-enhanced world of witchcraft and wizardry in a sinister veil of shadow and contrast, helping Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince shake the childishness of its subject matter.

Finally, in a league of its own, there’s Avatar.

Cinematographer Mauro Fiore’s work on this intergalactic romance is stunning, especially when you consider the film’s central challenge: depicting an imaginary, digitally crafted world with a tenacious sense of realism. The movie’s naturalistic look helps to sell its outlandish premise, with bold rays of sunlight puncturing Pandora’s lush jungle canopy. (Fiore was hired in part for his conscientious treatment of tropical foliage in 2003’s Tears of the Sun.)

Avatar broke new ground in an industry that’s still coming around to the digital revolution. Last year, Slumdog Millionaire became the first “primarily digital” movie to win the Oscar for cinematography. Of this year’s nominees, Avatar is the only one with the chance of being the second. Director James Cameron spent nearly a decade developing the equipment to make the film possible, including a sophisticated 3-D camera rig (co-designed by Pace HD), and a revolutionary device called a SimulCam, which combines live-action shots with pre-recorded C.G.I. in real time, thus facilitating immediate playback.

Read the rest here. My thoughts on this are that it will be interesting to see whether or not the Cinematographers embrace the new 3-D cinematography on February 27. The Academy votes in total for this award, and thus they won’t have the same prejudices the cinematographers might, if they have any at all.