a theatre, film & pop culture review
French cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman is director Michel Hazanavicius’s frequent collaborator. But if you’d never heard of him before this year’s Oscars, it wouldn’t be that surprising as he’s worked primarily in French film and this marks his first Academy Award nomination. Many are predicting a win here, probably because of The Artist‘s likely sweep of this year’s awards, but I have my doubts; two other contenders are much stronger.
DP Jeff Cronenwith first worked with David Fincher when he was assisting his father, also a DP, Jordan Cronenweth, on a Madonna music video that Fincher was directing. Apparently cinematography runs in the blood, because Fincher then went on to work with the younger Cronenweth on Fight Club, The Social Network and finally, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A dark murder mystery, Cronenweth beautifully utilized the oppressive Swedish winter to his and the story’s advantage. Making the über-gloomy season a kind of additional character, the DP was aggressive with contrast and shadows, manipulating soft light and cool color tones to create an atmosphere of desolation and foreboding that perfectly complimented the lonely characters.
The Tree of Life‘s Best Picture nomination may have been surprising, but its nod for cinematography was anything but. For DP Emmanuel Lubezki, it was all about capturing the magic of the moment , of nature, and shooting emotions in multiple perspectives, a technique he also utilized in The New World (also Oscar-nominated), another collaboration with director Terrence Malick. The result is a gorgeous, free-flowing impressionistic think piece that appears to float dreamily across the screen. The film may have its detractors, but Mr. Lubezki does not: his visual appreciation and understanding of small moments is extraordinary, and I would be shocked if he didn’t accept his first Oscar on February 26th.
As for our final two nominees, well, they surely won’t win:
Dealing with the technical issues of shooting in 3D and against green screens, while also emulating the qualities of Autochrome, Robert Richardson (two-time Oscar winner for The Aviator and JFK) gave Hugo an intimate and retro look with predominating browns, blues and yellows.
Frequent Spielberg collaborator, Janusz Kaminski (two-time Oscar winner for Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List) went old-school for the WWI flick War Horse, doing all of the colorizations and compositions in camera (does that explain the silly Crayola-colored sky in the film’s final shot?).