Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.
As much attention is paid to the actors and directors of award contenders, some of that spotlight also shines on the crew members responsible for how the film appears on screen. The field of cinematography has widen over the years, becoming more diverse with talent. It’s too early to declare a favorite for award season, but here are five emerging photography directors to watch out for:
Rachel Morrison, “Black Panther”
A month before the mega-blockbuster hit theaters, Rachel Morrison was already making history, breaking the Oscar glass ceiling with her nomination for Dee Rees’ “Mudbound.” Morrison trades in the subdued blues and browns of 1940s Mississippi Delta for the bold palette of Wakanda in “Black Panther.” Comic-book movies usually earn craft nominations, but they rarely get in the cinematography category.
Matthew Libatique, “A Star is Born”
October has been a great month for Matthew Libatique. The frequent Darren Aronofsky cinematographer and Queens, New York, native lensed two top 5 films this month – “Venom” and “A Star is Born.” Libatique was previously nominated for 2010’s “Black Swan.”
Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”
Nothing says “Go ahead and give this movie an Oscar!” more than for it to be in black and white. Polish cinematographer Lukasz Zal does it well, having been nominated for the Oscar for the 2013 drama “Ida.” Five years later, buzz picks up again as Zal goes from the multicolor fantasy of “Loving Vincent” to the monochromatic world of “Cold War.” Its trailers and released photos show Zal’s best work.
James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Director Barry Jenkins enlisted lenser James Laxton again for the film adaptation of the James Baldwin novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The duo previously worked together in the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” with Laxton gaining a nomination. Before this partnership, Laxton worked with director/writer Kevin Smith.
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
It’s unfair to call Alfonso Cuarón an “emerging” cinematographer when he has already two Oscars, including best director for “Gravity.” Frequent collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki is not on board for what Cuarón calls a personal film, “Roma.” According to his Internet Movie Database profile, this is Cuarón’s first feature film that he served as cinematographer. It’s another black-and-white film this season, a rare treat for movie lovers.