The Oscar for Cinematography went to the legendary Roger Deakins for the period drama 1917, as was widely predicted. Directed by Sam Mendes, 1917 is set during World War I and follows two soldiers tasked with crossing enemy lines to deliver an important message. The movie has been lensed and edited to appear to be a single, 120-minute long take without any cuts, in order to convey the urgency of the mission.
This is 70-year-old Deakins’s 15th nomination. The British director of photography competed for the first time with Shawshank Redemption in 1994, and his subsequent nominations include Fargo (1996), Kundun (1997), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Skyfall (2012) and Prisoners (2013). He finally won for Denis Villeneuve’s futuristic yarn Blade Runner 2049.
Deakins competed with Robert Richardson for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Lawrence Sher for Joker, Rodrigo Prieto for The Irishman and Jarin Blaschke for The Lighthouse. “The nominations never get old, but I get old,” Deakins told The New York Times in an interview. “There’s some great work this year, so whoever wins, they deserve it.”
His biggest challenge on 1917 was “figuring out the right balance of the shot”, he told NYT. “Are you behind them [the soldiers] all the time? How often do you have to be on their faces? Is it too claustrophobic to pull them all the way down a trench?”