The films in contention for the 2023 Best Cinematography Oscar are “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Bardo,” “Elvis,” “Empire of Light,” and “TAR.” Our odds currently favor “All Quiet on the Western Front” (16/5) taking the prize, followed in order by “Elvis” (39/10), “TAR” (9/2), “Empire of Light” (9/2), and “Bardo” (9/2).
Including his dual bids in 2008, this is the 14th time Roger Deakins (“Empire of Light”) has competed for this award. After finishing first in the 2018 (“Blade Runner 2049”) and 2020 (“1917”) races, he could now become the 11th person to achieve a third cinematography win. This marks his third nomination for a film directed by Sam Mendes, after “Skyfall” (2013) and “1917.”
The only other returning nominee in this group is “Bardo” lenser Darius Khondji, who was first recognized for “Evita” in 1997. He is now the first West Asian cinematographer to earn two academy notices, with the category’s only other generally Asian repeat competitor being James Wong Howe, who prevailed on two of his 10 bids (“The Rose Tattoo,” 1956 and “Hud,” 1964). At this point, the only other Asian person who has won this award is Peter Pau (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” 2001).
This lineup’s rookie majority is comprised of James Friend (“All Quiet on the Western Front”), Florian Hoffmeister (“TAR”), and Mandy Walker (“Elvis”). Walker is only the third female nominee in the category’s history, directly following 2022 hopeful Ari Wegner (“The Power of the Dog”). The glass ceiling was broken in 2018 by Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”). Of the 19 non-gendered categories, Best Cinematography is the only one in which a woman has never triumphed.
Both “Bardo” and “Empire of Light” are only nominated in this single category, making this the first cinematography roster to include multiple lone contenders since 2007 (“The Black Dahlia” and “The Illusionist”). The last lone example prior to this year was “The Lighthouse” in 2020.
Since 2004, each film that has won Best Cinematography has also received at least one other Oscar. The most overlap has occurred in the Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects categories, with eight instances each, including a three-way sweep by “Dune” last year. “All Quiet on the Western Front” is the only current contender nominated for both other awards, while “Elvis” is only up for the former.
The films that won in this category most recently are “Dune” (2022), “Mank” (2021), “1917” (2020), and “Roma” (2019). This year’s winner will be revealed during the 95th Academy Awards ceremony, airing March 12 on ABC.
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