Best Cinematography 1986

1927/28 through 1997

Which of the 1986 Oscar nominees had the best cinematography?

The Mission (Chris Menges)
Peggy Sue Got Married (Jordan Cronenweth)
No votes
Platoon (Robert Richardson)
A Room with a View (Tony Pierce-Roberts)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Don Peterman)
Total votes: 16

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Re: Best Cinematography 1986

Postby criddic3 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:39 am

Big Magilla wrote:
Frederick Elmes, who just won an Emmy for The Night Of, has never had an Oscar nomination

Elmes should have been nominated for his work on The Ice Storm (1997).
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Re: Best Cinematography 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:56 pm

I agree with the consensus that Blue Velvet obviously merited inclusion -- the photography perfectly captures both the sunniness of the movie's idyllic portrait of small-town America, as well as its descent into gruesome film noir.

Star Trek IV's nomination is a bit like that Cinematography nod for that one Harry Potter movie -- a long-running franchise that had never contended here suddenly pops up in this category for no apparent reason. I'd say The Voyage Home is a better-looking film than some of the grisly '70's nominees, but it's still a fairly random citation. (Though it couldn't have been totally out of the blue, seeing that ASC nominated it, along with -- gulp -- The Karate Kid II.)

Peggy Sue Got Married definitely isn't win level, but its cheery rays of sunshine bring out the movie's sense of nostalgia for a bygone era, and the moody lighting of the freemason scenes at the finale guides the story's tip into full-on supernatural fantasy. The other nominees are more visually sumptuous, but this is acceptable as a nominee.

A Room With a View in general has a radiance to it that makes it feel less stuffy than many great literature adaptations, and you'd have to praise the cinematography for its role in accomplishing that. From the painterly compositions in the city-set sequences, to the pastoral shine of the countryside scenes, the images are winningly romantic throughout. I'd probably say Art/Costume Design wins are enough to recognize this film's beauty, though.

I'm a bit surprised that no one (so far) has gone with Platoon, because it's a very well photographed film. The cinematography does a striking job of capturing the elements -- dust, smoke, fog, rain, fire -- that fill the characters' environment, giving the viewer a strong sensory impression of what life in a war-torn jungle might feel like. And of course, this movie does have the single most iconic shot in this lineup -- Dafoe dying with his hands raised. Precious Doll does have a good point though -- it does share a similar visual look as Vietnam films that had come before, though I do think few used their images to as strong a dramatic effect as this one does.

Given how integral cinematography is to the greatness of so many movies, it's pretty rare for me to vote for a film in this category that I flat don't like. I'd certainly hear the argument that The Mission's images aren't in service of a very successful movie. And I'd also take the point that a locale like Iguazu Falls is so naturally photogenic it'd be hard to screw up making it look great. But it's hard to deny that Chris Menges isn't doing impressive work here -- from the sheer beauty of the lighting, to the elegance of the compositions, to the rich use of depth of field, the entire movie is one great photograph after another. Occasionally I must acknowledge that pretty pictures can be their own artistic triumph, even if the story surrounding them is not, and give my vote to The Mission.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1986

Postby Precious Doll » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:22 am

I voted for A Room with a View.

I never cared for The Mission - sure it looked gorgeous but its a pretty dreadful film and Chris Menges already has an Oscar.

Aside from Peggy Sue Got Married I have not time of the other nominees. It's not like Platoon was any better looking than earlier and better films on the Vietnam War such as The Boys in Company C. & Go Tell the Spartans.

I agree that the major omission is Frederick Elmes, my personal pick for the year, for Blue Velvet from Dino De Laurentiis production company DEG.

Also from the short lived DEG was Dante Spinotti and a very good case could be made for either Crimes of the Heart or Manhunter. Talk about stark but appropriate difference. Also another worthy mention is Jean-Francois Robin for Betty Blue - just gorgeous to look at.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1986

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:30 pm

Blue Velvet is the clear and absurd omission. But there was no way it was going to score here; even today, it'd be viewed as too weird by much of the branch.

You could also make a case for The Mosquito Coast.

Star Trek IV joins the long list of "Movies I'd never have seen except for a random Oscar nomination". I don't recall a single distinguished thing about the film's look.

Peggy Sue Got Married at least had a pleasing soft glow to it that suited its sweet-but-not-too-sweet story. I'm generally fond of the movie, and don't mind its inclusion here, given the lack of great alternatives (Blue Velvet excepted).

The other three nominees were all deserving; the fact that they're best picture contenders make them pretty much no-brainers.

A Room with a View, the movie that brought Merchant/Ivory out of art-house obscurity into the semi-mainstream, has a glow not unlike Peggy Sue's. You'd describe the movie as "pretty", and not mean it as pejorative. I don't think it's any revelation, but, as I said, it deserves its nod.

Platoon is an altogether darker thing, and an impressive one. The cinematography feels expressive in a way that A Room with a View's doesn't -- conveying the excitement, the alienation, the fear, the horror Stone's characters feel at various points. This is a very well-shot film, and wouldn't have been a bad winner.

But The Mission was a pretty gorgeous effort. I remember saying to my wife as we left the theatre that it wasn't just pictures of beautiful things -- it was perfectly-lit pictures of beautiful things. You can knock The Mission for its content -- I thought it was a bland movie at the time, and have no inclination to go back and check my memory. But you should acknowledge it as beautifully shot, and the most impressive of this line-up.

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Best Cinematography 1986

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:53 pm

Chris Menges won his second Oscar for The Mission and that's fine with me, but I would have been just as happy for the award to have gone to either Robert Richardson for Platoon or Tony Pierce-Roberts for A Room with a Vew.

What the other two are doing in this company, I don't know. Jordan Cronweth's nomination for Peggy Sue Got Married might be a make-up nod for having been ignored for Blade Runner, but Don Flashdance Peterman really doesn't deserve a second nod for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home even though it was the best and best photographed of the Star Trek films.

Frederick Elmes, who just won an Emmy for The Night Of, has never had an Oscar nomination, but he certainly should have had one, if not two, in 1986 for Blue Velvet and maybe River's Edge. Although I didn't much care for last year's Paterson, I was greatly impressed by Elmes' clear-eyed cinematography, as well as his work on 2005's The Namesake, 2008's Synecdoke, New York, the 2014 mini-series Olive Kitteridge, and of course, The Night Of.

Thomas Del Ruth, who later won Emmys for TV's The West Wing is my other never nominated Oscar candidate for 1986 for Stand By Me.

With Elmes and Del Ruth in the running, along with Menges, Richardson and Pierce-Roberts, it would have been one of the best line-ups ever in this category and one for which any one of them would have been a good choice for the win.

I voted for Menges.
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