‘Gravity’ wins top prize at Society of Camera Operators Awards

The last awards of the industry guilds for film and television were handed out Saturday night by the Society of Camera Operators. SOC ‘s (they kept the abbreviation from their original Society of Operating Cameramen name) awards are rarely covered by the media, perhaps due to their dubious status, if any, as Oscar precursor. Unlike the other guilds, no equivalent Oscar or Emmy exists and the SOC Awards take place after the Oscars.

Gravity” was victorious — not unusual this season — as cameraman Peter Taylor claimed the top honor for his tracking shots in the effects-driven space film. The other nominated movies were “American Hustle,” “Labor Day,” “Lone Survivor” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” This is Taylor ‘s first win. His past work includes “Gladiator,” “Love Actually” and two of the “Harry Potter” movies. Taylor filmed one other 2013 film: the British thriller “All Things to All Men” (29% on Rotten Tomatoes) starring Gabriel Byrne that has been recut and retitled as “The Deadly Game” for its home video release.

This is the sixth non-consecutive year that SOC has given out a competitive film award and the fourth consecutive for television, in addition to their honorary awards. Oscars often acknowledge quantity over quality (whatever nominee has the most editing or the loudest sound), but the SOC Award surprisingly does not always go to the film with the shakiest camera. “Captain Phillips” was not even nominated this year. “Lincoln,” a film of measured takes, won last year. Other past winners include “J. Edgar” (2011), “The Town” (2010), “The Dark Knight” (2008) and “Into the Wild” (2007).

The television winners have been “Breaking Bad” (2012), “Glee” (2011) and “Sons of Anarchy” (2010). Psychological thriller “Homeland” was the only returning nominee this year and competed against horror anthology “American Horror Story,” crime procedural “Body of Proof,” primetime soap “Scandal” and the winner: the sixth season of period piece “Mad Men” as shot by Don Devine. “Mad Men” is a show devoid of handheld camerawork, apparently never having employed a Steadicam. Devine has been on “Mad Men” since 2009 for its third season, having previously worked on “FlashForward” and “Carnivàle” and such films as “Jurassic Park III” and “The House Bunny.”

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