Roger Deakins has been nominated 13 times for the Oscar. In 2008 he was nominated twice for two of the best-shot films of the year, No Country for Old Men, the Best Picture winner, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, by all accounts the best-shot film that year. He won Best Cinematography for The Man Who Wasn’t There by the BAFTA, the American Society of Cinematographers, the Boston Film Critics Society – but Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring won the Oscar instead. That’s fine. That was a long time ago. They had their chance to do a make-good after that — even though There Will Be Blood was deserving. They never fixed it. They never awarded Roger Deakins — the finest unrewarded cinematographer currently working in Hollywood — with an Oscar.
Give him the Oscar already. Sure, we know that Best Cinematography is often linked to the film that has the most Best Picture cred and somehow, other than 2008, Deakins doesn’t find himself in Best Picture territory very often. But why can’t the voters ever just say: it’s time to give this man a goddamned fucking Oscar for the love of all things holy! Hail, Caesar! is probably confusing for a lot of Academy members, especially the younger ones. It isn’t touchy feely. It isn’t a movie you can sit anyone down in front of and they will get it. That doesn’t take away from the glaring truth that nearly every shot in this movie, like every shot in every movie he’s ever made, is a work of art. Let’s say that again: Every shot is a work of art.
He will likely be nominated for Hail, Caesar! because will there will be any better, more artful, more breathtaking cinematography this year that can sit in the same room with his work here? There might be one or two equally deserving of a nomination but just this once, can the Academy spare itself another year where Deakins doesn’t win an Oscar?
What’s it going to take!?
Hail, Caesar! takes us back to many different genres of filmmaking from the 1940s, including historical epics, war films, musicals — tap dancing Frank Sinatra musicals and Esther Williams musicals with vibrant colors, rich black and whites — all the while allowing Deakins to do what he always does with any movie he’s working on whether it’s the shittiest film you’ve ever seen or the best — making it 100% better just by having shot it.
Give Deakins an Oscar. Do it before it’s too late, before you have to finally admit that you failed to achieve the singular goal of awarding the best in the business with a gold statue and you thus have to hand him an honorary award as if that somehow makes up for your past mistakes. Do it now because it’s the right thing to do. Do it now because you CAN do it now. Just give him the goddamned Oscar already!
Do not wait for Roger Deakins to make a movie that is more “best picture friendly.” Open your eyes and look at Hail, Caesar! Whole generations of filmmakers and cinematographers will go to school on Roger Deakins and perhaps this movie specifically. Do not let this opportunity slip away. It’s time, Academy. It’s time.
[quotes quotes_style=”bquotes” quotes_pos=”center”]Yeah, we watched some Esther Williams swimsuit movies and old clips. And we definitely referenced films like “Quo Vadis” and “The Bible,” you know. I mean it’s difficult, really, because we needed to show how those films were kind of shot and lit. And sometimes you pop out wide and you see the whole set. You see the way it was lit. So we had to be true to it to a degree, but on the other hand, we’re also making a film that had to sort of be cohesive as one piece. Ethan put it best. I think he said it’s not a tribute to filmmaking, it’s a film set in that time. So although we were kind of mimicking some of the old movies, especially the Western and stuff, to go too far with it I think pulled the audience out of the overall movie really.
For the scenes with Mannix watching dailies, did you shoot that particular material any differently than the overall film itself?
With filtration and stuff. We went for that kind of quite highly saturated, kind of warm look. But nothing extreme. I mean the Western we deliberately shot on slow stock. It was as much the sets and the kind of lighting, really. I mean the thing is, what can you do? Film stocks today are nothing like the film stocks they shot with back then. Do you know what I mean? So you can’t make a choice. You can’t even process differently these days. You don’t have that option. You’re pretty restricted with what you can do with film these days. So I mean there’s how many stocks now? Four or five? Your choices are very limited. But as I say, that was fine. I wasn’t going to do much in terms of the way it was processed, so I probably wouldn’t have gone that way even if I had the choice. So no, originally we were not going to change the kind of format. It was only late in pre-production that the guys decided yes, the 1.33:1 [aspect ratio] would play for some of the films and, you know, George Clooney’s Roman epic would be 1.85:1, but it wasn’t going to be widescreen.[/quotes]