The annual ASC Awards is not only a celebration of the best in cinematography, it’s also a wonderful way of tracking trends and developments in the craft of cinematography. To that plaudit could also be added the ways in which visual storytelling is both evolving, and where it is unafraid of nostalgia.

So the winners in each category were:

Theatrical Release

Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC – “1917” WINNER

Well Deakins is everywhere at the moment isn’t he? And the Mendes/Deakins magic is on fire in 1917. ARRI couldn’t have wished for a better showcase of what the new Alexa Mini LF is capable of. It was so new at the time that Roger was presented with prototype versions, and his wife James spent a lot of time getting everything in the digital pipeline to talk to the cameras. As entertainment it is gripping and visceral, from a technical standpoint it is a testament to a level of collaboration by the whole cast and crew. There is a delicious dance going on throughout the movie in camera operation and movement. The production has if not defined, then certainly refined a specific kind of  technical choreography.

1917

Also nominated:
Phedon Papamichael, ASC, GSC – “Ford v Ferrari”
Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC – “The Irishman”
Robert Richardson, ASC – “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Lawrence Sher, ASC – “Joker”


Spotlight Award

Jarin Blaschke – “The Lighthouse” – WINNER

Boxy aspect ratio, lensed with Panavision Baltars designed in the 1930s, arcane hand made short pass filters, and genuine panchromatic Double-X 5222 B&W film are just a few of the lengths Blaschke went to on this unique movie. Robert Eggers follow up to The Witch is a mythic ode to the sea and the power it has over two gnarly lighthouse keepers. This win is highly deserved as The Lighthouse is such a shining example of what cinema can be at it’s very best.

the lighthouse movie

Also nominated:
Natasha Braier, ASC, ADF – “Honey Boy”
Jasper Wolf, NSC – “Monos”


Documentary Category

Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma – “Honeyland” – WINNER

This beautiful documentary proves that the most important tool a cinematographers possesses is their eye. It’s not shot on high end cameras and the budget was minuscule, but what they have achieved is so artistic that it exists outside of language. The emotions, life and environment of Hatidze the beekeeper fill every frame.

Also nominated:
Nicholas de Pencier – “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch”
Evangelia Kranioti – “Obscuro Barroco”


Episode of a Series for Non-Commercial Television

Colin Watkinson, ASC, BSC – “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Night – WINNER

The Handmaid’s Tale is powerfully distinctive in it’s visuals and the story it tells. Colin has shot 19 episodes and ‘Night’ is one of the pearls. He has been nominated before and also received an Emmy for his work on the show.

Also nominated:
David Luther – “Das Boot,” Gegen die Zeit (episode 6)
M. David Mullen, ASC – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Simone
Chris Seager, BSC – “Carnival Row,” Grieve No More
Brendan Steacy, CSC – “Titans,” Dick Grayson


Episode of a Series for Commercial Television

C. Kim Miles, CSC, MySC – “Project Blue Book,” The Flatwoods Monster – WINNER

Project Blue Book is something of a hidden gem, amongst all of the content out there this Cold War Sci-Fi has created a believable and grounded world to tell tales of UFO’s and aliens. Miles has contributed hugely to the already high production values of this show.

Also nominated:
Dana Gonzales, ASC – “Legion,” Chapter 20
Polly Morgan, ASC, BSC – “Legion,” Chapter 23
Peter Robertson, ISC – “Vikings,” Hell
David Stockton, ASC – “Gotham,” Ace Chemicals


Motion Picture, Miniseries, or Pilot Made for Television

John Conroy, ISC – “The Terror: Infamy,” A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest

What is great about these awards is that they value quality above all, a valid criticism of the Academy awards is that they are very sniffy about anything that hints of ‘genre’ film making, they ignore horror and you can feel their bum cheeks clenching when they nominate something as mainstream and downright popular as Black panther. But the ASC are all much more grown up than that and know excellence when they see it. Conroy has ratcheted up the atmosphere and tension in this series – in a show that was already known for it’s unrelenting, well, terror…

Also nominated:
P.J. Dillon, ISC – “The Rook,” Chapter 1
Chris Manley, ASC – “Doom Patrol,” pilot
Martin Ruhe, ASC – “Catch-22,” Episode 5
Craig Wrobleski, CSC – “The Twilight Zone,” Blurryman


Honorary awards went to
Werner Herzog (The ASC Board of Governors Award); Frederick Elmes, ASC (The ASC Lifetime Achievement Award); Donald A. Morgan, ASC (The ASC Career Achievement in Television Award); Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC (The International Award); Don McCuaig, ASC (President’s Award);Kim Snyder (ASC Bud Stone Award of Distinction)

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