Nominee: Philippe Le Sourd for The Grandmaster
Oscar Scene: Gong Er prepares to fight Ma San
Let’s start off with the surprise nominee here, though thankfully the surprise is completely welcome. Already faced with the unenviable prospect of having to measure up to Wong Kar Wai’s longtime DP Christopher Doyle, first-time nominee Philippe Le Sourd manages a dazzling array of sumptuous period tableaux. From the dramatic chiaroscuro effects of Razor’s confrontation with his old gang looking like a scene ripped from an American neo-noir to the radiant colors of Ip Man and Gong Er’s duel creating one of the most sensual fight scenes ever filmed, Le Sourd’s images are first-rate. Although foreign-language films have a better track record here than other crafts categories, The Grandmaster did not achieve the popularity and awards season muscle of Pan’s Labyrinth or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Still, for a divisive object butchered in its American release, the nomination is more than enough reward for something that at the very least is a true feast for the eyes.