While awards season is in full swing and various groups are recognizing 2016’s best acting, writing, directing, etc., there’s also plenty of deserved love lavished on the best cinematography of the year. The American Society of Cinematographers have announced the nominees for their 31st annual awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, and it’s a pretty formidable bunch. The nominees are:
Greig Fraser for Lion
James Laxton for Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto for Silence
Linus Sandgren for La La Land
Bradford Young for Arrival
This is a fantastic lineup that is as diverse as it is impressive. The work of Fraser and Laxton on Lion and Moonlight, respectively, exemplify some truly stunning handheld photography (watch Steve’s interview with Fraser here), and in the case of Moonlight some really powerful POV shots. And then you have something like Bradford Young’s work on Arrival, which is steady, confident, and naturally lit (read my interview with Young here), as well as Sandgren’s La La Land work that is chock full of jaw-dropping long takes. And, finally, Rodrigo Prieto—who is undoubtedly one of the most versatile cinematographers working today—bringing to life shots that Martin Scorsese has been dreaming about for decades.
Prieto is the only repeat-nominee here, having been recognized previously for Brokeback Mountain and Frida. This is actually what I have as my predictions for the corresponding Oscar category, but 2016 was full of great cinematography. Personally, my favorite of the year was Jody Lee Lipes’ understated but powerful work in Manchester by the Sea, but the year also gave us Stephane Fontaine’s intimate work on Jackie, Seamus McGarvey’s sumptuous Nocturnal Animals, and master Roger Deakins tackling old Hollywood in Hail, Caesar! There’s even a case to be made for Fraser landing a double nomination for his Rogue One cinematography—it’s an embarrassment of riches to be sure.
The ASC winner oftentimes matches up with the Oscar winner, with Emmanuel Lubezki winning the last three prizes in a row for The Revenant, Birdman, and Gravity. But the ASC also has a separate category for feature-length projects that are screened at festivals, internationally, or limited release for the Spotlight Award. The nominees for that category are as follows:
Lol Crawley for Childhood of a Leader
Gorka Gomez Andreu for House of Others
Ernesto Pardo for Tempestad
Juliette van Dormael for Mon Ange (My Angel)
The winners will be announced on February 4th.