By Jack Egan
The 18th annual awards gala held by the American Society of Cinematographers in early February produced some surprise winners and some notable firsts. The event, attended by 1,606, also observed the 85th anniversary of the ASC’s founding in 1919.
Cinematographer John Schwartzman, ASC was the dark-horse winner in feature films for, appropriately, Seabiscuit, the movie about the legendary come-from-behind race horse. Schwartzman, first nominated in 2002 for Pearl Harbor, bested a battery of cinematographers who lensed some of the year’s biggest epics: Russell Boyd, ASC (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), John Toll, ASC (The Last Samurai), John Seale, ASC, ACS (Cold Mountain) and Andrew Lesnie, ACS (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). Seabiscuit was the only one of the five movies shot entirely in the United States.
In television, for the first time Outstanding Achievement awards for both movie of the week/miniseries/pilot for cable and single episode for a series went to the same show, HBO’s Carnivale, about a mysterious traveling tent show in the Great Depression.
Tami Reiker was the first woman cinematographer in what is an overwhelmingly male bastion to win an ASC honor for her work on Carnivale’s pilot. It was her first nomination. Jeff Jur, ASC won for the show’s “Pick a Number” episode. Jur got an award the previous year for the TV movie Last Call. And Pierre Gill, CSC won for the best network telefilm, for Hitler: The Rise of Evil.
Michael Chapman, ASC (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver) received the ASC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The International Achievement Award was bestowed on Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek, ASC whose many credits include Amadeus and Silkwood. The Presidents Award went to veteran Howard Anderson Jr., ASC whose work spans I Love Lucy and Star Trek on television to many of director George Pal’s fantasy films for which Anderson shot special effects. Producer Irwin Winkler, of Rocky and Raging Bull fame, was the recipient of the ASC Board of Governors Award, handed out for extraordinary contributions to advancing the art of filmmaking. And silent film archivist and historian Kevin Brownlow received a special award for “his incomparable contributions to preserving the heritage of the past,” according to ASC president Richard Crudo.
By Jack Egan