Under the Circuit: Sean Bobbitt

The recent snub for Sean Bobbitt runs deep and is aching for some recognition…


Most Known For: “12 Years a Slave,” “Oldboy,” “The Place Beyond the Pines”

Snubbed For: “12 Years a Slave,” “Shame”

Under the Circuit goes below the line this week as we take a look at cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and the mystery of how his great work over the last few years has gone unrewarded by the Academy. Bobbitt may only have a handful of years as a established player in Hollywood, but his collaborations with Steve McQueen have helped raised him to one of the more respected DP’s in the industry already.

For almost the first 15 years of his career, Bobbitt was primarily known for his short film or TV work. He had a handful of features thrown into the mix, but none that ever broke through to the mainstream. All of that changed when he began working with Steve McQueen on the director’s debut film, “Hunger.” Like Michael Fassbender, Bobbitt has not only been a fixture on all of McQueen’s films thus far, but he has also turned in his best work collaborating with the British filmmaker.

“Hunger” was a strong outing for Bobbitt, as he and McQueen established their penchant for the long take with a great scene between Fassbender’s character and his priest. But “Hunger” would prove to be a taste of what the two would accomplish in their next outings together.shame-image-michael-fassbender-2

Their second collaboration, “Shame,” may be Bobbitt’s best work. Bobbitt beautifully crafted the dark and seedy world of Fassbender’s sex addict. It is fantastic work, and when you look back at the other nominees they appear safe and uninspiring over that of Bobbitt. The two that probably could have easily been replaced were “War Horse” and “The Artist,” but “Shame” wasn’t the Academy’s cup of tea, as the film would receive no nominations, including a major snub for Fassbender.

The perception after McQueen’s first two films was that they were too difficult for the Academy to get behind, but that changed with “12 Years a Slave.” Our reigning Best Picture winner earned 9 nominations, winning 3, but unfortunately absent from that was Bobbitt. To be fair, it was a really good slate of nominees with the likes of “Prisoners,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” and winner “Gravity,” but it is surprising that Bobbitt’s great work did not get its due with the Academy based on the love they had for the film. The beautiful photography of the picture helps accentuate the horrors the film depicts.

o-12-YEARS-A-SLAVE-570Some of Bobbitt’s other high profile work includes “The Place Beyond the Pines,” “Oldboy” and this year’s “Kill the Messenger.” Upcoming for Bobbitt is the Bill Murray/Barry Levinson film “Rock the Kasbah.” We are still waiting to hear what Steve McQueen’s follow-up to “12 Years” will be, but hopefully it will be a reunion with Bobbitt as the two are a fantastic pairing.

A nomination for Bobbitt seems inevitable. He is quickly becoming one of the premiere cinematographers in the industry and will have many chances to crack the list. However, as Roger Deakins can attest to, a win can be much harder to come by.

Check out the latest Oscar Predictions for Best Cinematography!

What do you think?

Written by Michael Balderston

NoVA native who has returned to the Washington D.C. area after two years in L.A. My biggest annoyance since leaving L.A. is not having immediate access to indie films on their first weekend, but I'm making due. When I'm not tracking the year's Oscar players or exploring film history, I'm rooting for my Philadelphia sports teams.


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