Oscars frontrunner ‘Birdman’ wins American Society of Cinematographers award

Emmanuel Lubezki (“Birdman“), the Oscar frontrunner for Best Cinematography, prevailed over three of his rival nominees — Robert D. Yeoman (“The Grand Budapest Hotel“), Dick Pope (“Mr. Turner“) and Roger Deakins (“Unbroken“) — as well as Oscar Faura (“The Imitation Game“) at the American Society of Cinematographer Awards on Sunday. The fifth Oscar nominees (Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski for “Ida“) had won here last year, taking home the inaugural Spotlight Award; that went to “Concrete Night” this year. 

Lubezki had odds of 1/10 to win over his fellow cinematographers and odds of 2/9 to pick up an Academy Award as well. Not surprisingly, 545 of the 638 Users to predict this race had gone with him as did our six Editors and seven Experts. (See full results here.) 

The lenser had won both prizes last year for “Gravity.” While that was his first Oscar, after five losses, he had prevailed twice before with the society (“Children of Men,” 2006; “The Tree of Life,” 2011). 

Among those others in both races is Deakins who contends for “Unbroken.” While that veteran cinematographer has won three of his 13 ASC bids, he has yet to take home an Oscar despite 11 nominations to date. This was the second ASC nomination for Pope and the first for both Faura and Yeoman.

As Deakins knows all too well, the ASC awards are not the most reliable precursor prize. In the 28-year history of these kudos, only 11 winners, including Lubezki, went on to repeat at the Oscars. The others were: 

Dean Semler, “Dances with Wolves” (1990)
John Toll, “Braveheart” (1995)
John Seale, “The English Patient” (1996)
Russell Carpenter, “Titanic” (1997)
Conrad L. Hall, “American Beauty” (1999)
Conrad L. Hall, “Road to Perdition” (2002)
Dion Beebe, “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005)
Robert Elswit, “There Will Be Blood” (2007)
Anthony Dod Mantle, “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)
Wally Pfister, “Inception” (2010)

At the 29th annual ASC awardsfest, which took place at the Beverly Hilton, lenser Jonathan Freeman won the TV series award for the “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” episode of “Boardwalk Empire” over  episodes of “Game of Thrones,” “Gotham,” “Manhattan” and “Vikings.” John Lindley claimed the TV movie/miniseries prize for the pilot of “Manhattan.” And filmmaker Barbra Streisand was feted with the Governors’ Award. 

Make your Oscars picks now — click here — or scroll down to predict the Best Cinematography winner using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Best predictions will win $1,000 prize. And the 24 Users with the best scores advance to a team to compete against our Experts and Editors next year. See who’s in our current Top 24 and their early Oscar predictions. Meet the guy who won our contest to predict Oscar nominations this year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. Register/log in to your account so you can also compete to predict the Indie Spirits, Razzies, “The Walking Dead,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and more.

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