The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) has announced nominees for excellence in the field this year, and missing from the nominees was Janusz Kaminski's work on "War Horse," which marks yet another key snub for the film in the precursor season.

I've been critical of the lensing of Steven Spielberg's World War I epic, which was commendable in intent more so than practice and felt a bit uneven throughout. Nevertheless, it's a surprise to see Kaminski miss here, and further indication that the industry has not responded well to the film.

The happy surprise, though not all that surprising still, is Hoyte van Hoytema getting in for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," a moody, atmospheric piece of work with photography as observational and patient as the directorial vision. It's the second guild nod for the film, following an Art Directors Guild citation, showing that the film has support through the craft branches even if it's not registering with groups like the PGA and DGA.

Also nominated, maintaining a consistent guild showing, was Jeff Cronenweth's icy, smooth digital hues on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (work that felt as uninspired as the overall enterprise but I won't complain too much because he's a massive talent who has worked wonders in the digital realm). Things are just adding up for that film.

Naturally, the black and white work from Guillaume Shiffman on "The Artist," the 3D lensing of "Hugo" by Robert Richardson and the season's dominant force in the category, Emmanuel Lubezki and "The Tree of Life," rounded out the list.

So, who's the favorite? Lubezki, as mentioned, has lit up the circuit so far. In fact, he's only lost a cinematography award twice: once to Manuel Alberto Claro, who would have been a deserving nominee here for his work on "Melancholia," and again to Kaminski. So most consider him a sure bet to continue through the Oscars.

While I think he has a really good chance to win here from his peers, I think things could be a lot different when the Academy at large gets its hands on the ballot next month. I'm still placing my chps on "The Artist" to win the Oscar.

Once again, the 2011 ASC nominees are:

"The Artist" (Guillaume Shiffman)

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Jeff Cronenweth)

"Hugo" (Robert Richardson)

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (Hoyte van Hoytema)

"The Tree of Life" (Emmanuel Lubezki)

That's the last guild announcement of the week, so take a breath and relax. But not for long, as the Critics' Choice Movie Awards tomorrow and the Golden Globes on Sunday will give us plenty to chew on before the American Cinema Editors (ACE) give another clue to Oscar on Monday.

Remember to keep track of the ups and downs of the 2011-2012 film awards season via The Circuit.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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