An unexpected wrench was thrown into the “La La Land” steamroller when Grieg Fraser (“Lion”) beat Oscar frontrunner Linus Sandgren at American Society of Cinematographers award for Best Feature Film at the 31st annual edition of these kudos on Saturday. He also edged out the other three Oscar nominees — James Laxton (Moonlight”), Rodrigo Prieto (“Silence”) and Bradford Young (“Arrival”) — to claim this award on his first try.
Prieto had contended with the guild twice before (“Frida,”2002; “Brokeback Mountain,” 2005) and at the Oscars for the latter film. The other nominees are all first-timers both with the guild and the academy.
Over its 31-year history, the ASC has predicted 123 of the 155 Oscar nominees, including all five of this year’s contenders. But that success rate of 79% stands in stark contrast to its track record at previewing the eventual Oscar winner. The ASC choice for the best in the business has gone on to claim an Oscar bookend only 13 times in three decades (43%).
Besides Emmanuel Lubezki‘s historic three wins a row for “Gravity,” “Birdman” and “The Revenant” beginning in 2013, the other 10 repeat champs 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 Saturday’s ASC awardsfest, which took place at the Dolby Theater, Gorka Gomez Andreau (“House of Others”) won the Spotlight Award, which honors films that screen at festivals, internationally, or in limited release. Three-time ASC nominee Edward Lachman received the Lifetime Achievement Award while Denzel Washington was feted with the Governors Awards
On the TV side, “Game of Thrones” lenser Fabian Wagner won for “Battle of the Bastards” in the Non-Commercial Series category. This was his third bid in a row but he lost last year to “Marco Polo” and to “Boardwalk Empire” in 2015. While “Game of Thrones” won with the ASC in both 2013 and 2014, that was before Wagner had joined the series.
“Mr. Robot” cameraman Tod Campbell took the Commercial Series prize for the season two episode “eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc.” And “The Night Of” cinematographer Igor Martinovic won for the second episode of this limited series, which contended in the TV movie/miniseries/pilot race. And four-time ASC nominee Ron Garcia was honored with the Career Achievement in TV award.
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