As we launch the Best Cinematography category in our Oscars predictions center, several people have a chance to make history at this year's ceremony. For instance, Emmanuel Lubezki has won the award for the last two years ("Gravity" in 2013, "Birdman" in 2014), and as the cinematographer for "The Revenant" this year he has a chance to go three-for-three, which would make him the first in Oscar history to win in three consecutive years.
As it stands, Lubezki is one of only four to have won back-to-back. The others were Leon Shamroy ("Wilson" in 1944, "Leave Her to Heaven" in 1945), Winton Hoch ("Joan of Arc" in 1948, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" in 1949) and John Toll ("Legends of the Fall" in 1994, "Braveheart" in 1995). It may be a good sign for Lubezki that "The Revenant" reunites him with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who directed "Birdman," the film Lubezki won for last year.
But that's not the only potential milestone. Three-time Oscar-champ Robert Richardson could win a fourth for Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight." His previous victories were for "JFK" (1991), "The Aviator" (2004) and "Hugo" (2011), and a fourth would tie the record for the most wins in the category, currently shared by Shamroy and Joseph Ruttenberg.
And then there's Roger Deakins. The lauded cinematographer has been nominated 12 times but hasn't won, including bids for the last three years in a row. He's hoping 13 will be his lucky number as he contends for the crime thriller "Sicario," directed by Denis Villeneuve. They previously collaborated on the film "Prisoners," which earned Deakins a bid in 2013.
Best Cinematography ostensibly honors a film's camerawork, but in recent years it has become difficult to distinguish the award from Best Visual Effects; the two categories have gone hand-in-hand for five of the last six years: "Avatar" (2009), "Inception" (2010), "Hugo" (2011), "Life of Pi" (2012), and "Gravity" (2013). Four of those films — all but "Inception" — were also in 3D.
"Birdman" finally snapped that streak last year, but if Cinematography and Visual Effects match up again, that could be good news for effects-heavy films "The Martian" and "The Walk" (both lensed by Dariusz Wolski), "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Daniel Mindel), "In the Heart of the Sea" (Anthony Dod Mantle) and "Mad Max: Fury Road" (John Seale).
Meanwhile, past nominees Barry Ackroyd ("The Big Short"), Christian Berger ("By the Sea") and Edward Lachman ("Carol") are aiming for their first wins, while others are still seeking their first nominations, including Hoyte Van Hoytema ("Spectre") and Cary Fukunaga ("Beasts of No Nation").
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Emmanuel Lubezki photo credit: David Fisher/REX
"The Revenant" photo credit: Moviestore/REX