The nominees are:
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Roger Deakins
Atonement, Seamus McGarvey
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men, Roger Deakins
There Will Be Blood, Robert Elswit
How I did: 100%. My only 100%! Yay.
Having watched three of these films last week, the cinematography is still fresh in my mind.
01. The Assassination of Jesse James
It’s double nominations for Shawshank Redemptioner Roger Deakins this year, and they have never been this deserved. Much of The Assassination of Jesse James is set outside, in beautiful, full landscapes with willowy wheat fields and Deakins absolutely goes to town with his camera, whether it be through changes in focus, rich colours, dazzling use of light sources, careful manipulations of time, or fade-outs. In some parts of the film, Deakins even blurrs the edges of the frame to make it resemble like an old photograph. And the train robbery scene is shot masterfully. Some of the key themes of the film are conveyed through the camerawork, one of the key examples being of Jesse James himself, being viewed through the “lens”, as a poetic myth, some kind of legend that he could never live up to. Brilliant art, and it made the film ever more poignant. A*.
Atonement, with its pretty costumes and stunning sets is an absolute visual feast, but the cinematography is arguably one of the best technical aspects of the film. Capturing the mood of a wealthy 1930s household, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey’s first task was to convey the sweltering heat, which he did, through resourceful use of Christian Dior stockings over the lenses. Panning shots of Briony walking around the house as well as wide shots of the two sisters lying in the grass are amongst my favourites; they’re simple but beautiful. McGarvey manages to capture the beauty of Atonement in the grittier war scenes which included scenes of a bomber in flight reflected on the surface of an irrigation ditch. And of course, there’s that Dunkirk scene, which despite only taking two takes, probably took several months to choreograph. A.
= 03. No Country for Old Men
Another Roger Deakins work, and another film of a Western motif. Set in the sun-dried landscapes of 80’s, his cinematography perfectly illuminates the indifferent backdrop, portraying the Texas as a moral wasteland. The Coens are renowned for using cinematography to contribute to the mood and tension of their films, and Deakins does this here. The Devon-born Roger Deakins had been nominated 5 times before this year (for Fargo, The Shawshank Redemption, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Kundun and O Brother Where Art Thou?), but never won. If he doesn’t win this year for either Jesse James or this, there will be an assassination of and no country for the old men who voted… or something. (Basically, he needs an Oscar.) A-
= 03. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The filming of DB&B is beautiful through its dreamlike uses of colour which fitted in seamlessly with the music, contributing to the uplifting and inspirational feel of the film. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (a regular Steven Spielberg collaborator) took home the grand technical prize at Cannes for his innovative approach to the visual style of the film, which features shots from the POV of Bauby, through one eye, so we can experience what its like to have his physical cripplement. In doing so, the movie screen is rife with life and beauty, despite the seemingly depressing subject matter, illustrating the film’s key point – that you don’t need a healthy body to live life to its full. A-
= 03. There Will Be Blood
Although there wasn’t anything hugely flashy in There Will Be Blood, I really liked many of the symbolic images and shots. One I really liked though was the long tracking shot as he carries the injured H.W. to the building and we see him run away from the burning derrick. Tis all very intense. A-
In short, all five films were very deserved nominees. They were all stunning.
Who should win: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Who will win: No Country for Old Men
Who deserved to get nominated: no-one else aside from these 5. :D