It was horrifying news to wake up this morning and find out that the great Harris Savides had died. Though he leaves behind quite a legacy, his best being his work on David Fincher’s Zodiac, but also The Game but also his work with Sofia Coppola. None of the obits, however, can lead with “Academy Award nominee” or “Oscar winner.” Why? Because the Academy never nominated him.
The Oscars are designed to have the experts nominate per category. Once the nominations are in it gets even worse because the entire Academy votes for the winners. As the years have worn on, I’ve noticed a trend in the various guilds and societies to match up with Best Picture. I’m not sure what the reason for this is. But generally speaking, the stronger the Best Picture contender, the better its chances for getting guild nods – like the Eddie, the Ace, etc.
How else do you explain Harris Savides work on Zodiac getting a snub? Have a look at this. Immediately, in every vein of Zodiac is Fincher’s eye. But even beyond that, just look:
It wasn’t just Oscar, of course, It was the American Society of Cinematographers too. The five movies that got in there were mostly strong Best Picture candidates: No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Atonement, and one that wasn’t, The Assassination of Jesse James. These are all good calls for cinematography. How can you argue with Roger Deakins, who was nominated twice that year? I probably would have dumped Atonement if I had to make the choice – not meant as an insult or anything but it’s unbelievable that Savides was ignored. Why is that? Was it that Zodiac was too dark? Too cold? Too ambiguous?
And why even bother asking those questions. We spend much of our time Oscar watching wondering what “they” will do and what “they” think. Today is a good reminder that most of the time “they” have no earthly idea what they’re doing.
Despite the many awards for Zodiac, it did not receive a single Oscar nomination.
But instead of remembering Harris Savides as the guy who never got a Oscar nomination, let’s remember him as the guy who shot a lot of really great movies. Or, perhaps as this guy: