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The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable: The Cinematographers #book2movies

Who will win? The first ever female cinematographer to be nominated? 

 Or the legendary veteran who has never won the prize?*

This is it. Showtime. Every year we see exciting and innovative films come into the marketplace. We don’t always see them at the Oscars. 

Tonight there are nine films nominated for Best Picture: Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri, The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Get Out, Call Me By Your Name, Phantom Thread, The Post, Darkest Hour and Dunkirk. The last three don't stand a chance. Too traditional. Too emblematic of old Hollywood, big splashy moviemaking. 

If you know me, you know I’m at the point where I remind you—and myself—that it really doesn’t matter who wins. Oh, I guess it does because there is a money bump. But it doesn’t matter to us, the fans. All these movies are extraordinary films. As are a couple of handfuls of other films that weren’t nominated for Best Picture ... my favorite of those being Mudbound. For the life of me I don’t know why Mudbound didn’t make the cut. It's a complicated algorithm blah blah blah.

Anyway ... Rachel Morrison, the cinematographer who shot Mudbound DID make the cut. And she's the first woman EVER to be nominated for Best Cinematography. Yes, we've been celebrating films at the OSCARS for close to 90 years and this is the first time a woman has been nominated. That is some heavy, heady stuff! By the way, Rachel Morrison is also the cinematographer behind the current smash hit Black Panther! 

Will she win tonight? Or will it be the legendary Roger Deakins nominated for Blade Runner 2049. He’s close to being a god in the film world. Nominated 14 times—including for Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, Sicario etc etc—he has NEVER won. That’s another piece of unbelievable shit! 

Or will it be someone else entirely? The other nominees include Bruno Delbonnel for Darkest Hour, Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk and Dan Lausten for Shape of Water. Five undeniably masterful pieces of cinematography. All winners, truly.

Another reason why at the end of the day, these awards don’t matter. What counts is longevity. What counts is what we see on the screen, how it makes us feel today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and years from now when no one will remember what won or what didn’t win but only what we love, what moves us. 

If you have time, the hour long roundtable featuring several of the top cinematographers is below. 

Or you can watch a 5 minute clip with the focus on Rachel Morrison. 

Or, following that, a clip featuring Deakins.

Hollywood Roundtable: The Cinematographers

Rachel Morrison on Mudbound

Roger Deakins on Blade Runner 2049

So who do you think should win? The first woman to be nominated or the legendary vet who’s never won the prize? Or someone else entirely?

Updated: The top prize went to Roger Deakins. And as much as I wanted to see Rachel Morrison win—in part because I strongly support #womeninfilm, but mostly because her camerawork was so exceptional—I can’t say I was disappointed that Deakins won. He has an extraordinary list of credits in his past that deserve the acclaim. Rachel, I feel confident, has an extraordinary list of credits in her future.