2022 Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography

At six of the last nine Oscars, Best Cinematography has gone hand-in-hand with Best Director: Claudio Miranda and Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” (2013); Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity” (2014); Lubezki and Alejandro G. Inarritu for both “Birdman” (2015) and “The Revenant” (2016); Linus Sandgren and Damien Chazelle for “La La Land” (2017); and Cuaron doing double duty on “Roma” (2019). Will that trend hold true this year? (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2022 Oscars predictions for Best Cinematography.)

The academy usually regards award-winning cinematography as pretty pictures within an epic technical feat of filmmaking. While great lighting and framing are laudable on their own, having a movie that looks like it was difficult to shoot goes a long way to snagging an Oscar. Recent lensing winners “Avatar” (2009), “Inception” (2010), “Hugo” (2011), “Life of Pi” (2012), “Gravity” (2013), “Blade Runner 2049” (2018) and “1917” (2020) also took home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

While the lensers of “Inception” and “Gravity” first prevailed at the American Society of Cinematographers Awards, these precursor prizes do not have a stellar track record at forecasting the Oscar winner. Indeed, since the guild started handing out prizes in 1987, the two groups have agreed only 16 times:

1991: “Dances with Wolves” (Dean Semler)
1996: “Braveheart” (John Toll)
1997: “The English Patient” (John Seale)
1998: “Titanic” (Russell Carpenter)
2000: “American Beauty” (Conrad L. Hall)
2003: “Road to Perdition” (Hall)
2006: “Memoirs of a Geisha” (Dion Beebe)
2008: “There Will Be Blood” (Robert Elswit)
2009: “Slumdog Millionaire” (Anthony Dod Mantle)
2011: “Inception” (Wally Pfister)
2014: “Gravity” (Emmanuel Lubezki)
2015: “Birdman” (Lubezki)
2016: “The Revenant” (Lubezki)
2018: “Blade Runner 2049” (Roger Deakins)
2020: “1917” (Deakins)
2021: “Mank” (Erik Messerschmidt)

UPDATED: January 23, 2022

Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our 2022 Oscar Best Picture predictions.

Leading Contenders (ranked by likelihood of winning)
“Dune”: Greig Fraser
“The Power of the Dog”: Ari Wegner
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”: Bruno Delbonnel
“Belfast”: Haris Zambarloukos
“West Side Story”: Janusz Kaminski
“Nightmare Alley”: Dan Laustsen

Strong Contenders (alphabetical by title)
“Being the Ricardos”:  Jeff Cronenweth
“Cyrano”: Seamus McGarvey
“House of Gucci”: Dairusz Wolski
“King Richard”: Robert Elswit
“No Time to Die”: Linus Sandgren
“Passing”: Eduard Grau
“Spencer”: Claire Mithon

Possible Contenders (alphabetical by title)
“C’mon C’mon”: Robbie Ryan
“Don’t Look Up”: Linus Sandgren
“The French Dispatch”: Robert Yeoman
“The Last Duel”: Dariusz Wolski
“Last Night in Soho”: Chung-hoon Chung
“The Lost Daughter”: Helene Louvart
“Parallel Mothers”: José Luis Alcaine

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