news Oscars 2023: Best Cinematography Predictions

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We will update all our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Oscar race. The nomination round of voting will take place from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is between March 2 and 7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our initial thoughts for what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

Roger Deakins (“Empire of Light”), James Friend (“All Quiet on the Western Front”), Florian Hoffmeister (“TÁR”), Darius Khondji (“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”), and Mandy Walker (“Elvis”) were nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar on Tuesday. In a field where three first-time nominees kept several of the category’s perennials out of the running, it looks like a race between Walker (who could finally make history by breaking the Oscar glass ceiling in her branch) and Friend.

Three of the five nominees — Deakins, Khondji, and Walker — were also nominated for the 37th annual ASC Awards (to be held March 5 at the Beverly Hilton and live streamed). As a predictor, the ASC winner has won the Best Cinematography Oscar in seven out of the last 11 years, though there’s still a chance that winner could be someone who isn’t up for the Academy’s consideration: The ASC nominees include last year’s Oscar winner, Greig Fraser (“The Batman”), and Claudio Miranda (“Top Gun: Maverick”). The omission of Miranda from the Oscar nominees is the biggest shock, considering that he was the favorite for his innovative work on the high-octane “Maverick.” Miranda brought a visceral realism and took us thrillingly inside the Navy jet cockpits with Tom Cruise, thanks to the Sony Rialto Camera Extension System. Apparently it wasn’t enough to get the branch to vote for him.

By contrast, the nominations of Friend and Hoffmeister were pleasant surprises: Friend digitally shot Edward Berger’s acclaimed anti-war drama (a Best Picture nominee as well as Germany’s nominee for international film) like an immersive horror movie with a mixture of large format cameras. With a series of long takes on the battlefield and in the trenches of World War I, he captured the sheer scope of the unrelenting artillery attacks and massive carnage.

Hoffmeister (who won the top prize at Poland’s Cameraimage International Film Festival) digitally shot Todd Field’s Best Picture nominee about uncompromising composer-conductor Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett , the Best Actress favorite) as a clinical dance between subjectivity and reality. He was particularly inspired by German New Objectivity, especially photographers Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth.

Walker visualized Baz Luhrmann’s delirious take on the life of Elvis Presley with a carnival-like period excitement. She’s only the third woman to be nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar, following Ari Wegner (“The Power of the Dog”) last year and Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”) in 2018, and her work on “Elvis” has already garnered the Audience Award and Festival Director’s Award at Camerimage and the Best Cinematography honors from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.

“Bardo” marks Khondji’s first nomination since “Evita” and his initial collaboration with director Alejandro González Iñárritu. For Iñárritu’s mind-blowing, semi-autobiographical journey back to Mexico City, Khondji (second-place prize winner at Camerimage and winner of the festival’s International Federation of Film Critics Award) evoked the city as a wildly imaginative mindscape through the blurring of reality and memory.

The legendary Deakins (consecutive Oscar winner for “1917” and “Blade Runner 2049”) scored his 16th nomination, yet finds himself in the position of dark horse for exquisitely lensing Sam Mendes’ underappreciated love letter to ’80s cinema on the English coast, which offered the right landscape with beautiful skies and the gray sea.

Aside from Miranda and Fraser, other notable omissions include two-time Oscar winner Janusz Kamiński (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List”) for his colorful, multi-textured period work on Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans”; Hoyte van Hoytema, for his innovative large-format day-for-night sequences and IMAX action set pieces on Jordan Peele’s “Nope” (which topped IndieWire’s Best Cinematography of 2022 list); and “Titanic” Oscar winner Russell Carpenter, whose brilliant fusion of practical and virtual visuals for James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” probably leaned too heavily on the latter to satisfy voters.

Below are the nominees ranked in order of likelihood to win:

Mandy Walker (“Elvis”)
James Friend (“All Quiet on the Western Front”)
Roger Deakins (“Empire of Light”)
Darius Khondji (“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”)
Florian Hoffmeister (“TÁR”)