Emmanuel Lubezki, director of photography for Tree of Life won the coveted feature film prize at the American Society of Cinematographers’ 26th annual awards dinner held Sunday night in Hollywood. Lubezki had already been named best cinematographer on multiple critics’ lists, and the ASC award cements him as one of the favorites to win this year’s Oscar.
The other cinematographers nominated in the feature film category were Jeff Cronenweth for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Robert Richardson for Hugo; Hoyte von Hoytema for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist. Schiffman won the BAFTA award for best cinematography at England’s version of the Oscars held Sunday in London, making him another strong contender for this year’s Academy Award for best achievement in cinematography.
Cronenweth and Richardson are also nominated for the cinematography Academy Award, to be handed out Feb. 26. Janusz Kaminski, DP for War Horse is the fifth nominee.
About half of the time, the winner of the ASC award also receives the best cinematography Oscar. They have overlapped four times in the last six years, but there is often a divergence as well.
This is the second time Lubezki DP has received the ASC feature film kudo. He also won in 2007 for Children of Men, and was widely tipped to win the Oscar after topping nearly every other awards and critics list. But the Academy Award that year went instead to Guillermo Navarro, the DP for Pan’s Labyrinth.
In the television categories Boardwalk Empire DP Jonathan Freeman repeated as the recipient of the award for best cinematography in a one-hour series. He also won in 2011 for his work on the HBO skein and was honored with an ASC Award in 2007 for Homeland. This was his seventh ASC nomination.
Michael Weaver won in the half-hour episodic television category for his cinematography on Californication, which airs on Showtime. This was Weaver’s second ASC nomination and first win.
Meanwhile, European DP Martin Ruhe was honored in the television movie/mini-series category for his cinematography on Page Eight, a BBC-produced spy drama that aired on PBS.
Five honorary awards were also handed out at the well-attended event. Actor Harrison Ford received the ASC Board of Governors award. Preceded by a montage of his notable appearances in Star Wars, Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now and the Indiana Jones films. Ford thanked the group and also recognized the role of dolly grips, whom he called “the second most important person on the set.” He hailed moviemaking as a combination of art and craft, adding “there can be no art without the craft that gets it there.”
The ASC lifetime achievement award went to DP Dante Spinotti, whose film credits include Last of the Mohicans and L.A. Confidential. Director Michael Mann, who has worked the Italian cinematographer on a number of films presented the award. Spinotti recalled a shoot with Mann that stretched into the wee hours of the morning as the DP was attempting to finish off a large number of shots. The director complained, “Dante, what’s going on? Turn down the key lights. It’s getting too bright.” Spinotti responded, “Michael, I can’t, it’s the sun.”
Other honorees were:
- ASC President award recipient Francis Kenney.
- William Wages, who received the ASC career achievement in television award.
- Fred Godfrey, recipient of the ASC Bud Stone award of distinction.
The ASC is an invitation-only society of 350 of the world’s leading cinematographers.