Each Wednesday through the week of the 2018 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 23, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.
Thirteen – that’s the number of times British cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated for an Academy Award. That’s 13 times his name has been read off a teleprompter, but it has never appeared in the envelope. In a two-decade span, Deakins has probably stayed seated in a cushy, velvet chair surrounded by the rest of Hollywood’s brightest when a presenter did not say his name. Will his luck change in March with his work in “Blade Runner 2049?”
Deakins makes plantless landscapes and a gloomy Los Angeles dazzle with his choices of light and color in the Denis Villeneuve sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi, film noir epic. In a film where the world is on the blink of destroying itself for the umpteenth time, Deakins wrestles replicants and real being with dark and light, deserted landscapes with spectacular visualizations. It’s not like any of the other films he has lensed. Let’s take a look at some of his other nominated films:
Teaming with the Coen brothers
Deakins is like the brother from another mother with Bruce and Joel Coen, having worked with the American filmmakers starting with “Barton Fink” in 1991. Deakins was nominated for his work in five movies, the crime dramedy “Fargo,” the black-and-white, noirish drama “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” the Southern odyssey “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and westerns “No Country for Old Men” and “True Grit.” Whiskey-stained grounds and crisp portraits bring the stories to life. In 2008, Deakins competed against himself, for “No Country” and another title in the next segment, but he lost anyway. Many insiders thought he would get a nomination for the 2016 comedy “Hail, Caesar!” but it didn’t happen.
The mighty West
If a movie requires a wide shot, like most westerns, Deakins is the man to hire. In addition to “No Country” and “True Grit,” he was nominated for and competed against himself for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” While some critics were unkind to director Andrew Dominik’s take on the American outlaw, they spoke highly of its photography, as Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips described as “often breathtaking without settling for being pretty.”
Working with Villeneuve
Like his partnership with the Coen brothers, Deakins is crafting a beautiful working relationship with the Canadian filmmaker. He was nominated for the small-town kidnapping drama “Prisoners” and the drug-cartel thriller “Sicario.” For much of “Sicario” Deakins worked with natural light and required many to trust his vision for some of the darker shots. “Blade Runner 2049” is a bit of departure for the director and cinematographer with emphasis on holograms, weather and a dystopian world. On top of this, there is a 3-D version on the film, capturing depth and textures on top of everything. The Academy doesn’t seem to favor fantasy films and bloated movies that perform poorly at the box office, so Deakins’ chances for a nomination may be down a little. However, Deakins is well-respected and loved by his peers that he may even get a win this time.
- After two media exposés and dozens of women coming forward, the Academy censures Harvey Weinstein.
- The Gotham Awards, one of the season’s earliest ceremonies, has named its host.
- The Academy looks back at Latin cinema.