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Roger Deakins: Making Great Movies Beautiful

Roger Deakins is highly considered one of the most talented cinematographers of all time, and he still has years and years of work ahead of him. He's been nominated for an Academy Award in Cinematography 13 times, from 1995 to today. If you're doing your math, that's more than one nomination every two years. To date, he has never won an Academy Award for his work.

The 90th Academy Awards marks his 14th nomination for Cinematography, for his masterful work on Denis Villeneuve's, Blade Runner 2049. Could this be the year the legend takes home the shiny gold statuette? Or more importantly, is this the year the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences rightfully praises the man who has basically created the way movies have looked for the past 20 years? I mean, just about everybody tries to copy this guy’s style. Don't get me wrong! My man has walked away with over 100 award wins through various institutions with varying degrees of authority, it's just that Oscar probably looks so damn good on a desk. And I think he really deserves it this year. I thought I'd share with you guys a little visual guide for this special artist, who has had the clout in Hollywood to work with some of the most talented filmmakers in the field, like Sam Mendes, Joel and Ethan Cohen, Ron Howard, Denis Villeneuve and more! Oh, so much more.

But just what is cinematography you may ask, (or maybe you don't)? Sometimes referred to as the Director of Photography (or DP/DOP), it is the cinematographer’s job to work in tandem with the film's director on camera placement, lens use, color grading, lighting, framing and various other techniques, to essentially create the “feel” and "look" of the film. Noted cinematographers are Vittorio Storaro, Janusz Kaminski, G.W. "Billy" Bitzer, Conrad Hall, James Wong Howe, Maryse Alberti, Karl Struss, Kazuo Miyagawa, Robert Burks and John Bailey, (who was just named the new President of Hollywood’s Film Academy). Famous directors Ingmar Bergman, Quentin Tarantino, Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick are also known for heavily photographing many of their own films.

Now who exactly is Deakins up against this year? Let's run down the competition real quick before we dive into this master's insane gallery of achievements…


Bruno Delbonnel (Nominated for Darkest Hour)

4 previous nominations for:

Amelie (2001)

A Very Long Engagement (2004)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Hoyte van Hoytema (Nominated for Dunkirk)

1st nomination. Known for:

Let the Right One In (2008)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Her (2013)

Interstellar (2014)

Spectre (2015)

The first woman EVER nominated in the category.

1st nomination. Known for:

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012)

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Dope (2015)

Black Panther (2018)

Dan Laustsen (Nominated for The Shape of Water)

1st nomination. Known for:

Mimic (1997)

Silent Hill (2006)

Crimson Peak (2015)

John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

Proud Mary (2018)

And now, some highlights of ya boi Roger's jaw-dropping filmography....

1984 (1984)

Sid and Nancy (1986)

Mountains of the Moon (1990)

Barton Fink (1991)

Passion Fish (1992)

The Secret Garden (1993)

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

1st Nomination – Lost to John Toll for Legends of the Fall

Dead Man Walking (1995)

Fargo (1996)

2nd Nomination – Lost to John Seale for The English Patient

Kundun (1997)

3rd Nomination – Lost to Russell Carpenter for Titanic

The Big Lebowski (1998)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

4th Nomination – Lost to Peter Pau for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

5th Nomination – Lost to Andrew Lesnie for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

House of Sand and Fog (2003)

The Village (2004)

Jarhead (2005)

*Two Nominations in One Year*

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

6th Nomination

No Country for Old Men (2007)

7th Nomination – Lost to Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood

Doubt (2008)

The Reader (2008)

8th Nomination – Lost to Anthony Dod Mantle and Ravi K. Chandran for Slumdog Millionaire

Revolutionary Road (2008)

A Serious Man (2009)

True Grit (2010)

9th Nomination – Lost to Wally Pfister for Inception

In Time (2011)

Skyfall (2012)

10th Nomination – Lost to Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi

Prisoners (2013)

11th Nomination – Lost to Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity

Unbroken (2014)

12th Nomination – Lost to Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman

Sicario (2015)

13th Nomination – Lost to Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

14th Nomination

With a history as rich and full of variety as his, one would hope Deakins could pull in a win at some point in his career from the Academy. Does he care? Probably, not very much. Do I care? Oh, I care. And Blade Runner 2049 seems as good a chance as he may have (and it really is one of the most visually pleasing films you will ever see), although the competition against him this year is a little unnerving.

We'll just have to wait and see on March 4th at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. I'll be watching with a shot of whiskey set aside for the maverick's category, just in case he finally pulls off a much deserved win, or if he loses. I'm taking it either way.

Good luck, Roger!!!


Mike Burdge


Founder of and programmer for Story Screen. Lover of stories and pizza in the dark. When he isn't watching movies, you can find him reading things about people watching movies. He lives in Beacon, NY with his cat who is named after Kevin Bacon's character from Friday the 13th.




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