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This was probably Roger Deakins's last opportunity to make some noise with "Skyfall," my personal pick for the year's best cinematography. Well, he won the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award for his work on the film, staving off his winless streak at the Oscars just a bit.
And it's a slight surprise. Of course, Deakins is big with the guild. This is his third win there (previously cited for "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Man Who Wasn't There") and he has a Lifetime Achievement honor, too. And the ASC has always been ahead of the digital curve, giving nods to, say, "Collateral" or "Apocalypto" when the Academy's cinematography branch wasn't quite ready. Though speaking of "Apocalypto," Dean Semler received his Lifetime Achievement honor tonight from the Society.
"For me it’s not that much different," Deakins said of digital filmmaking in my interview with him this season. "I find that shooting digital seems to really work with the way I like to light. The learning curve was not that big, really. I mean obviously the processing side of it is slightly different. But once I start shooting I’m not really aware of the differences. And I felt I could play with things more in some of 'Skyfall,' because I could see with the optical viewfinder on set exactly what I was doing. It gave me more confidence to play, I think, than maybe if I was shooting film. It’s such a pressure on doing a big movie like that."
This slows down any momentum Claudio Miranda had built up from his BAFTA win earlier today. But I would nevertheless still call him the favorite for the Oscar. I'd love to be wrong, and not because I don't respect his work -- I do and defend it against ignorant conflation with the idea that visual effects is changing what the form actually is. But dammit...I want to see Deakins win an Oscar.
And by the way, whether it's "Skyfall" or "Life of Pi" that takes the Oscar for Best Cinematography, three of the last four winners will have been digital productions. "Inception" is the outlier from the ever film-reverent Christopher Nolan and Wally Pfister.
Rodney Charters also received the ASC's Lifetime Achievement Award. Robby Müller received the International Award and Curtis Clarke received the President's Award.
I guess this is as good a time as any to remind/announce (in case you don't follow me on Twitter) that the sixth annual "Top 10 Shots of the Year" column drops in two parts beginning Tuesday. And four of this year's ASC nominees were interviewed for the spread…including the big winner.
Full list of winners from the 27th annual ASC Awards:
"Skyfall" (Roger Deakins)
One-Hour Episodic Television Series
(tie) "Hunted" (Balazs Bolygo) and "Game of Thrones" (Kramer Morgenthau)
"Great Expectations" (Florian Hoffmeister)
Half-Hour Episodic Series
"Wilfred" (Bradford Lipton)
Remember to keep track of all the ups and downs of the 2012-2013 film awards season via The Circuit.