Nominee: Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity
Oscar Scene: Opening shot
If the Academy were to judge this category on visual chutzpa and technical complexity, they’d be hard-pressed to find a more deserving individual than Emmanuel Lubezki. It almost seems masochistic for me to believe this man might finally win an Oscar after being passed over for The New World and Children of Men and The Tree of Life, yet here we see ourselves in yet another year where he has nabbed every precursor award in sight. Luck may be on his side this year, though, since history certainly is – not only is Gravity one of the leading contenders for Best Picture, but would also be the fifth consecutive effects-driven blockbuster to nab the prize. The debate over such films “deserving” an award for cinematography is a can of worms this article isn’t going to open, but even with that possibly “unfair” advantage (again, an argument for a different article) Lubezki and Cuarón certainly explore the possibilities of CGI more thoroughly on a filmmaking level than the previous four winners by a light year. The setups, angles, lighting, and shots are executed with radical abandon, where nearly every scene is a marvel of precise movement and jaw-dropping “How did they do THAT?!” moments.