Achievement in Cinematography
Changeling, Tom Stern
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Claudio Miranda
The Dark Knight, Wally Pfister
The Reader, Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
Slumdog Millionaire, Anthony Dod Mantle
This category seems to be over. Right? It looks that way, but let's take a little closer look at this race. The ASC award has not been awarded yet, so that could influence this race. Although, the ASC is not a great indicator of predicting the Oscar. It is only 3/8 this decade.
The more I do these posts, I realize that Changeling was actually nominated for a fair share of Oscars. Sadly, it seems like has no chance in any category. This is the first nomination for Tom Stern. Changeling has the period piece cinematography going for it, but nothing really stands out to me. Should not be a factor.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button feels like the obvious choice. It has epic cinematography, but that doesn't always win. Think of Atonement last year. This is also the first nomination for Claudio Miranda. I do think this is one of the categories that Button can beat Slumdog. I just don't see Slumdog losing very much in couple weeks.
The Dark Knight fanboys can at least rejoice at the fact that it was nominated here. This is Wally Pfister's third nomination (The Prestige and Batman Begins). Could he pull off the upset? I think there's an outside chance for sure. The action sequences are shot marvelously. My only worry is that I don't know how much this film is really loved throughout the Academy.
The Reader pulls off a nomination here for two cinematographers. Not sure the exact story why there were two DPs here. For this reason, that will hurt its chances right away. This is the fourth nomination for Menges (won in '86 for The Mission ) and eight for Deakins (0/7 lifetime). Deakins is definitely one of the most deserving cinematographers in the business today. He probably should already have an Oscar. His time will come, but don't expect it this year.
Slumdog Millionaire could prove its dominance by taking this award. This is the first nomination for Mantle. I have recently come to the conclusion that I need to watch this film again. This film is the frontrunner, yet it feels like the cinematography was nothing special. I feel that way with a lot of categories Slumdog is leading in. It's like Return of the King syndrome (i.e. winning everything when it doesn't deserve to) all over again. Like the Original Score category, I find it funny that Mantle will have an Oscar before Deakins or Pfifster. You gotta love it.
The safe bet here is easily Slumdog. Button is a solid alternative and Knight is a spoiler special. I'll be honest with you that I haven't correctly predicted this award the last three years. I'm determined to break that streak this year.