Betting Odds: 1/2 (-200)
This favored film’s chances were boosted the moment that nine-time nominee Roger Deakins stepped behind the lens for the methodical Western. That style brought him home to the sweeping landscapes that he’s so talented and comfortable with like in Fargo and No Country for Old Men.
Despite the strong track record of exemplary work, however, Deakins has yet to take home an Oscar. All signs point to this year being his time, but bigger films — and names — have been snubbed before.
Betting Odds: 9/2 (+450)
In my review of Inception, I wrote: “Pfister exploits the tone of his images and the dirtiness of film to create a subdued sense of place no matter how convoluted the plot gets. Using a combination of 35mm, 65mm and Phantom HD slow-motion cameras, Pfister captures the dreams not as rainbows and sunshine nor as dark and nightmarish but as something believable albeit strange.
And while computer graphics seem to be the best way to achieve a dream that is imagination, I would argue that dreams are far more visceral than is usually given credit. Where Gilliam sought to illustrate them as cartoons [in Dr. Parnassus], Nolan and Pfister wanted to paint them as portraits.”
Next to Deakins, Pfister is one of the best directors of photography working today, so it’s no surprise to see the pair high on the list.
Note: In the clip embedded above, Pfister provides some fascinating, off-the-cuff moments that make it worth your while to watch to the end.
The King’s Speech
Betting Odds: 11/2 (+550)
Tom Hooper’s pic has shot straight up in the past couple of months as a favorite to take home a few awards. Lensed by Danny Cohen, the film took the low budget it had and used it to its advantage making for a more intimate film.
Comments like “Pixar-good” have hyped up this movie to a fever pitch coming into the awards, so it will be interesting to see if that buzz translates into an award here.
Betting Odds: 8/1 (+800)
Black Swan featured amazing camera choreography coupled with a slew of mirrors, a lighting scheme that evoked moody naturalism, and the gritty grain of Super 16mm film. Those challenges set forth to cinematographer Matthew Libatique resulted in a visual tour de force on the screen.
As much about capturing the intensity of the ballet as it is the psychological break down of the film’s main character, Black Swan exists as a thriller largely because of how it was approached. I am surprised Las Vegas is giving it such low odds — I personally think it deserves to be higher on the list.
Check out this other YouTube clip that highlights the production of the film.
The Social Network
Betting Odds: 18/1 (+1800)
Rounding out the nominees is that Facebook movie, “The Social Network.” Despite being based around the creation of a website, I found the film to resonate strongly with the zeitgeist in 2011.
It features a solid script, precise direction, and cinematography that lets those elements play out. Instead of flashy lighting schemes, Jeff Cronenweth pointed the camera and let the actors act and Fincher direct.
Nothing wrong in that — it made for a movie that should take home Best Picture — but it will probably end up costing Cronenweth a statue.
The Camera Factor
Since this category is devoted in part to the craft of camerawork, I do want to point out all the different acquisition formats represented by these films:
- Super 16mm film
- 35mm film
- 65mm film
- Phantom HD
- RED One MX
- and technically a hint of DSLR
I don’t remember the last time there was such a wide spectrum of film and digital formats co-existing in one Oscar award category. The variety is surprising, but it’s important to remember that cameras don’t make movies, people do.
Who do you think is going to win? More importantly, which film do you want to win? Is Deakins gonna lose out to the Facebook movie? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!