For my money, the sequence that lands "Inside Llewyn Davis" a cinematography Oscar nomination is on the Number One train, shot from the POV of the cat as subway stops flash by. Bruno Delbonnel, who also landed a cinematography nomination from the BAFTAs, is one of seven directors of photography selected by the American Society of Cinematographers to compete for their top motion picture honor. Traditionally, the ASC selects five nominees, but they had a three-way tie this year. Five of these will likely land in the final five on Oscar nominations morning, January 16.
The nominees are:
• Sean Bobbitt, BSC for 12 Years a Slave
• Barry Ackroyd, BSC for Captain Phillips
• Philippe Le Sourd for The Grandmaster
• Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC for Gravity
• Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC for Inside Llewyn Davis
• Phedon Papamichael, ASC for Nebraska
• Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for Prisoners
The winner will be revealed at the awards ceremony on February 1, at the Hollywood & Highland Ray Dolby Ballroom.
Notable omissions here are Best Picture contenders "The Wolf of Wall Street," "American Hustle," "Saving Mr. Banks," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Her," and "Blue Jasmine." Mexican Emmanuel Lubezki is considered the frontrunner for the Oscar for his dazzling 3-D digital work on Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity." Lubezki also won ASC Awards for Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" (2012) and Cuaron's "Children of Men" (2007), and was also nominated in 2000 for Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow." Last year's win for Claudio Miranda (3-D "Life of Pi") raises the issue of considering digital vs. 35 mm photography.
Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners," while it has not come up in many award conversations, marks some of the best work of revered British cinematographer Roger Deakins. (I look forward to sharing my conversation with him.) This nomination brings Deakins’ ASC total to 12. While he won last year for "Skyfall" and for 1995's "The Shawshank Redemption" and the Coens' 2002 black-and-white "The Man Who Wasn't There," after nine Oscar nominations he has never won.
Delbonnel earned top honors for "A Very Long Engagement" (2005) as well as a nomination for "Amelie" (2002). Ackroyd was previously nominated for "The Hurt Locker" (2010). Papamichael earned previous nominations in the television movie and miniseries category for "White Dwarf" (1996) and "Wild Palms" (1994), respectively. This is the first ASC nomination for Bobbitt and Le Sourd.