42 responses

  1. Pierre de Plume
    February 26, 2013

    I second that emotion! The list of “should have” won also includes The Assassination of Jesse James….

    Words of wisdom (and this applies to any artistic expression, really):

    “It’s got to mean something…you’ve got to know why you’re doing it, it’s got to be for a reason within the story, and to further the story… There’s nothing worse than an ostentatious shot.”

  2. Colin Biggs
    February 26, 2013

    I thought for sure this would be his year. Easily the best living cinematographer today.

  3. phantom
    February 26, 2013
  4. Dave
    February 26, 2013

    The man will have his day. Undoubtedly the greatest working D.O.P.

    But I gotta say Robert Elswit, of all those years you mention, deservedly won in 2007 for There Will Be Blood. He shot both that and Michael Clayton, which are both gorgeous films, displaying many of the qualities you’ve listed in favour of the Deakster.

  5. unlikely hood
    February 26, 2013

    Whoever that Brutally Honest Voter was (a brute, yes; Friedkin? Ratner?) that Sasha put on the mainpage a week ago, I thought the most fascinating thing he said was that the ballot didn’t name Deakins – just the five films up for best cinematography. He said he’d be voting for Deakins, but that most voters wouldn’t know it was him.

    Looks like Deakins may have to win that Oscar the hard way – you know, working for Terrence Malick.

    • Ryan Adams
      February 26, 2013

      Looks like Deakins may have to win that Oscar the hard way – you know, working for Terrence Malick.

      ahaha!

  6. g
    February 26, 2013

    One of the huge joys of watching Skyfall was that Shanghai scene, it took my breath away! Deakins is a genius, he has to win sometime!

  7. steve50
    February 26, 2013

    Deakins should have, at the minimum, 2 Oscars (Fargo and Jesse James), but it wasn’t his year this go round.

    In the fall, we’ll see what he comes up with when he works with Denis Villeneuve on Prisoners. Villeneuve is a good Cdn director and has a unique visual style (Incendies – nom’d FLF and Polytechnique). With Jackman, Jake G, Viola, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano, it won’t be a minor unseen effort.

    Maybe this time?

    • Ryan Adams
      February 26, 2013

      we’ll see what he comes up with when he works with Denis Villeneuve on Prisoners. Villeneuve is a good Cdn director and has a unique visual style (Incendies – nom’d FLF and Polytechnique).With Jackman, Jake G, Viola, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano

      don’t forget Terrence Howard and Maria Bello, playing mr. and mrs. chopped liver?

  8. rolotomasi99
    February 26, 2013

    For the past 4 years, the Oscar for Cinematography has gone to the same film as the Oscar for Visual Effects (and 3 of those winners have been in 3D). While Skyfall certainly had some great f/x, Deakins needs to do a f/x heavy film if he wants to win.

    I am calling it now: the next winner of Cinematography and Visual Effects is going to be Gravity. Director Alfonso Cuaron always makes visually incredible films, and the Academy owes Emmanuel Lubezki after he lost for The Tree Of Life.

  9. Kane
    February 26, 2013

    @Unlikely Hood…might be in vain my friend. Poor, poor Lubezki.

    @Marshall, well put. It’s tough for me to say Deakins deserves to have beat the other Oscar winners all of those years however the man is close to 2nd to none. However every year he’s nominated he’s up against someone truly incredible and, in my mind, someone who does something new or propels the medium forward. I won’t say Deakins does nothing new but he is old school in a lot of his techniques (Skyfall excluded). This year he lost to Life of Pi, before that Inception, before that There Will Be Blood (and I felt that deserved it). However I will say without hesitation that nobody is as consistently great as he is.

  10. steve50
    February 26, 2013

    Whoa! Cuaron and Lubezki? Sorry, Roger – here we go again.

    Good point about the fusion with FX, rolotomasi99. That’s an unstoppable trend.

  11. Aaron B
    February 26, 2013

    Have to say, I really think both Deakins AND Newman should have one this year for “Skyfall.” After listening to all of those nominees multiple times that one actually emerged as my favorite. I don’t see what’s all that great about Pi, especially when you take out the song which shouldn’t be counted as part of that score.

    I’m working on a project at home in our living room where we’re lining our entire wall with little 8x10s of our favorite shots from movies throughout the years. Lots of Deakins work on there so far.

  12. Matt
    February 26, 2013

    Adore Deakins, loved No Country and Jesse James, but Roger Elswit was well worthy of the Oscar for There Will Be Blood.

  13. Brian Whisenant
    February 26, 2013

    Marshall…I swore I was done reading about the Oscars…but you pulled me back in!!!

    I want Deakins to win an Oscar…and I do think Skyfall was the best looking Bond film in forever. But, in my opinion, Pi was unbeatable.

    Did Deakins shoot Llewelyn? Or however it’s spelled? Guess I have to start learning to spell it before next season.

  14. Watermelons
    February 26, 2013

    “Did Deakins shoot Llewelyn? Or however it’s spelled?”

    Bruno Delbonnel (Amelie) is lensing Inside Llewyn Davis! Should be gorgeous.

  15. filmboymichael
    February 26, 2013

    some of his best work came this year – but he is ALWAYS so good. My favourite of his work has to Fargo.

  16. Marshall Flores
    February 26, 2013

    Hahaha, Brian! My apologies!

    For the record, I do agree that Miranda was unbeatable for wondrous work on “Pi” – a well-deserved Oscar for my 2nd favorite film of 2012. No grumbling at all from this end. In fact, I really have no qualms with much of the work that ended up winning Oscars in lieu of Deakins’ films: There Will Be Blood, Inception, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were all incredibly lensed as well. Even if I have my many gripes with AMPAS, their cinematography lineups are always solid, year in and year out. It’s not easy for the average voter to choose a winner, and I’m sure it’s even harder for the voters in the cinematography branch.

    The Oscars have indeed recently trended with awarding a film with both cinematography and visual effects. And, of course, not having your name on the ballot (something I still find absolutely ridiculous) dampens any prospects of Deakins winning votes based on his name – though I’m sure he’d want to win any award on merit alone, not just because of his name or reputation. But his work, old-school as it is, is just so damn consistently brilliant and will stand the test of time, Oscar or not.

    Still, I’m sure a lot of cinephiles will rejoice like they did with Scorsese if Deakins finally wins one! All it takes is the right film and the right moment.

  17. Karl
    February 26, 2013

    Please Academy take away the permission to vote to people like Joan Rivers and Kirstey Alley, please, their taste of cinema is horrible, their favorite film actress was jennifer lawrence, come on!

  18. steve50
    February 26, 2013

    Well, I looked him up just to see what else he has done and I noticed that he’s a Member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Cinematographers Branch). So, if nothing else, he’s got a special Oscar for his career waiting for him in the wings.

    Hey! He’s married to James Purefoy! No…wait.. that’s Isabella James Purefoy Ellis. Damn!

  19. The Zach
    February 26, 2013

    In the same vein of biggest Oscar “losers,” Daniel Day-Lewis is the first person to win an Oscar for acting (out of 12 nominations) in a Spielberg film.

  20. CMG
    February 26, 2013

    Hearing from that THR Oscar ballot that cinematographers and other tech people do not have their names on the ballot is dispiriting. And now it makes sense that the younger group of DPs like Greig Fraser (Only The Master was more beautifully photographed than Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty’s cinematography easily could have been nominated just for the raid scenes alone) and Mihai Malaimare Jr. got ignored for more established Richardson (the only nominee who shot in film) and Kaminski (I have never been a fan of color tones). But Deakins not winning at this point is just off. Even with his range there is still a heart and texture there that is constant. Though I was much more of a Harris Savides partisan when he was still alive (Good lord that opening shot of Birth is magnificent), Deakins is in the pantheon.

    And let’s look at who Deakins lost to:

    Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda (Deakins, Skyfall)

    Inception, Wally Pfister (Deakins, True Grit)

    Slumdog Millionaire, Anthony Dod Mantle (Deakins & Chris Menges, The Reader)

    There Will Be Blood, Robert Elswit (Deakins double-nominee for The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford and No Country for Old Men)

    The Lord of the Rings, Andrew Lesnie (Deakins, The Man Who Wasn’t There)

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Peter Pau (Deakins, O Brother Where Art Thou?)

    Titanic, Russell Carpenter (Deakins, Kundun)

    The English Patient, John Seale (Deakins, Fargo)

    Legend of the Fall, John Toll (Deakins, The Shawshank Redemption)

    Now some of these wins over Deakins are objectively amazingly photographed films themselves. The year Deakins was a double nominee, likely cancelled him out but TWBB’s cinematography is amazing and so crucial. Others, however, seem like the typical piles on that happen in Oscar season when the consensus BP winners or even just the technical wonders of the season get there pick of the liter in the tech categories such as Titanic, The English Patient, and Slumdog Millionaire (though for my money the winner of that category should have been Wally Pfister that year for The Dark Knight). At some points Roger ran into some tough luck but the fact some of these were picks based on artistic merit (John Toll’s Legends of the Fall for goodness sakes) and he still is without one is amazing.

  21. Jon
    February 26, 2013

    Best cinematography is my favorite category at the oscars and it’s something I aspire to be locally at home with my film community. Obviously, deakins is a true inspiration to me among other talents from past and present. When I see a films credits I always need to see who the DP is.

    I wished the academy had awarded deakins for a serious man, a year he could easily have won. I would also say he should have won for skyfall. The shanghai scenes stand out the most riveting.

    I would also like to see lubezki get his due as well. Though I liked Hugo’s cinematography, I feel tree of life should have won.

    Here’s hoping these two greats win soon!

  22. JP
    February 26, 2013

    “I am calling it now: the next winner of Cinematography and Visual Effects is going to be Gravity.”

    I thought exactly the same thing after reading the text about Deakens. At least, Lubezki is number 2 most overdue cinematographer.

  23. CMG
    February 26, 2013

    re: Gravity, if we are to believe the first reports of the leaked script are to be believed, of it being some ridiculously amount of time, space, and action in just one shot, if Lubezki can pull off the opening shot scene then he deserves almost something more than an Oscar for that. I think he can pull it off.

    I’m still bitter Lubezki losing for Tree of Life. That work was just well and beyond all of the other nominees.

  24. steve50
    February 27, 2013

    Thanks CMG for putting together the comparison. It puts Deakin’s losses into perspective and proves that although he’s one of the – maybe – five best in the business, it’s all a matter of timing to get that Oscar. In almost every case his good work was up against either a BP juggernaut or something a bit better. It will come.

    Yes to the remark about Lubezki. For a category that seldom gets it wrong, they sure did last year when they bypassed Tree of Life.

  25. Kane
    February 27, 2013

    @CMG, not only Tree of Life but I’m still bitter about losing for Children of Men! In terms of nominations Deakins is the most overdue. However, like I said before, I’ve always felt there was just someone else a biiiiit better every time he’s nominated. But he’s the most consistently great. Lubezki, on the other hand, should have at least 2 Oscars. If he had to lose I’m glad it was to Hugo and Pan’s Labyrinth but his work those years were absolutely top tier.

  26. Sammy
    February 27, 2013

    Roger Deakins is my favorite cinematographer and he is a true artist. Unfortunately the Academy fell deeply in love with 3D movies!!

  27. CMG
    February 27, 2013

    Kind of like how Avatar’s cinematography beat the far more intimate and better guerrilla cinematography by Barry Ackroyd in The Hurt Locker or Christian Berger’s jaw-dropping, gorgeous yet chilling black and white cinematography in The White Ribbon.

  28. José R. Ortega
    February 27, 2013

    Agree, he truly deserves an Academy Award, as does another great (and also snubbed) cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki.

  29. rory
    February 27, 2013

    Regarding the comment that said his name wasn’t in the ballot…i think that’s actually quite good. You should win for your name. For pity. It should be by your own work. Winning just because he lost a lot is just sad.

    So , if they have the names of the movies , the choices are much more fair.

    Deakins has a wonderful career. His work in Skyfall was kinda trashy. He didnt deserved it (to be nominated , much less winning) . Pi was one , of many , who completely crushed Skyfall in the visual department. Glade he didnt won for his worst attempt.

  30. Jamie
    February 27, 2013

    Even though it seems to be low on the 2013 anticipated films radar, I’m looking forward to Prisoners. The script definitely has strong possibilities if not sidelined by being viewed as too similar to Taken and/or Mystic River. The cast is about as good as you can get.

  31. Jeff
    February 27, 2013

    I rarely comment on this site (just because I’m not worldly enough about film to put in my 2 cents) but I’m so pumped you included WALL-E in this article, nobody remembers Deakins worked on that movie.

    Looking him up on IMDB, I had no clue Deakins shot some of my favourite movies of all time! Glad you’re appreciating him here even if the Academy hasn’t (yet)

  32. Bennett
    March 1, 2013

    For me his finest works are in Skyfall and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. To me he would have already been a two-time winner.

    Vittorio Storaro should as well be cited as one of the best DP of all times. His work in The Conformist is sublime, not only explains a lot of Trintingnant’s character but the title of the film, but, also, a fine portrait of the italian historical context at WWII.

  33. keifer
    March 2, 2013

    Deakins also did a tremendous job on a little seen film from the ’80s set in Africa: “White Mischief” with Gretta Scacchi, Charles Dance, Joss Ackland, John Hurt, Sarah Miles and Geraldine Chaplin.

    He should have been nominated in 1988 for that film. It takes place in the ’40s and is so evocative of that era.

    Check it out sometime. The photography by Deakins is beautiful. There’s a great shot of a heroin-laced Sarah Miles looking over this gorgeous African landscape and she mutters, “Another fucking beautiful morning”.
    One of my favorite one-liners in all of filmdon.

  34. keifer
    March 2, 2013

    I think the cinematographer who was really robbed this year was Greig Fraser for his stunning work on “Snow White and the Huntsman”. I just can’t believe he was overlooked (even by the guilds).

    Clearly, for me, the best cinematography accomplished on film in 2012 was in this movie. Watch it sometime just for the gorgeous shots, dark shadows, and beautiful vistas. He took some risks in shooting this movie too. Great, creative camera angles (he did some side shots that were amazing), and not your typical boring “epic” scenes in widescreen. He also shot “Zero Dark Thirty” this year (again, not nominated in that either).

    I think he is a cinematographer to watch (will win an Oscar some day I predict).

  35. keifer
    October 23, 2013

    Deakins also did stunning work in “Dead Man Walking”, for which he should have been nominated.

    Another little seen “Deakins” film (the first actually I remember watching of his work) was a movie called “White Mischief” in the ’80s. It was amazingly photographed and hinted at great things to come. Deakins delivers.

  36. keifer
    October 23, 2013

    Two other cinematographers who come to mind as not winning an Oscar are the great Allen Daviau who should have won for “Empire of the Son” and Eduardo Serra who should have won for the last Harry Potter film.

  37. hordk
    November 14, 2013

    Hi, I just wanted to say that whoever thinks of Skyfall as the best Bond movie, or as good movie at all, has lost the right for ever to comment on all things related to cinema. Deakings is a great DP, but Skyfall is the worst piece of crap ever made. BTW I am not a troll, I am a filmmaker.

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