AND THE OSCAR FOR CINEMATOGRAPHY GOES TO?
It is no longer news that Mauro Fiore, ASC took home an Oscar for his artful rendering of live-action images in Avatar. But, the reality is that cinematography tends to fly under the radar at the Academy Awards. Maybe it’s because none of the nominees was wearing a posh evening gown adorned with the label of a celebrity designer.
It was one of the more interesting cinematography competitions in the 82 year history of the Oscars. The other nominees were Barry Ackroyd for “The Hurt Locker,” Christian Berger, AAC for The White Ribbon, Bruno Delbonnel, AFC for “Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince” and Robert Richardson, ASC for “Inglourious Basterds.”
It was the first time the five nominees were born and raised in different countries. Fiore was born in Marzi, Italy, a small town with a population of about 1,500. His family moved to Chicago when he was 11 years old. The ASC after his name indicates that he is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers. ASC is an honorary organization with some 300 members by invitation based on their bodies of work.
Ackroyd was born and raised in Mancester, England. He has occasionally worked on U.S. films, but his main body of work was earned in his native land. Delbonnel was was born in Nancy, France. His family moved to Paris when he was 20. His body of work is a blend of U.S. and French films. The AFC after his name indicates that he is a member of the Association of French cinematographers.
Berger was born and raised in Innsbruck, Austria. The ACS after his name indicates that he is a member of the Austrian Society of Cinematgraphers. The White Ribbon and most other films in his body of work were produced in his native land.
Richardson was born and raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he spent his youth. He now lives in Los Angeles. This was his sixth Oscar nomination. Richardson took top honors in 1991 for JFK and in 2004 for The Aviator.
The morale is that cinematography is a global language. The genres of the five films nominated this year varied from pure fantasy to harsh reality. They ranged from independent features produced with very limited resources to a $300 million-plus budget blockbuster. Ackroyd shot “The Hurt Locker,” which won Oscars in the Best Picture and Best Director categories in Super 16 film format. Fiore had two digital cameras on a rack, while shooting in 3-D format on sound stages. Richardson, Berger and Delbonnel created their imagery in 35 mm film format, but with radically different visual grammars. The morale of this story is that without artful cinematographey movies would be radio.
Photos: Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.