Best Cinematography 1990

1927/28 through 1997

Which of the Oscar nominees for Best Cinematography was the best of 1990?

Avalon (Allen Daviau)
4
24%
Dances with Wolves (Dean Semler)
5
29%
Dick Tracy (Vittorio Storaro)
5
29%
The Godfather Part III (Gordon Willis)
1
6%
Henry & June (Philippe Rousselot)
2
12%
 
Total votes: 17

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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby dws1982 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:56 am

I'd throw in two (mostly) Africa-set films as substitutes here: Mountains of the Moon and White Hunter, Black Heart. And of course, The Sheltering Sky (Africa again) and Goodfellas would've been strong nominees as well.

Of these, I think I'll go with Avaloni. It may not cover as much visual ground as some of the other nominees, but I think it does a great job evoking a unique time and place. Plus, Allen Daviau should've won at some point, and this is my only good place to reward him.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:15 am

The Original BJ wrote:Interestingly, all three of the critics' winners were omitted by Oscar this year -- The Sheltering Sky, Where the Heart Is, and Goodfellas. I'm still missing the first two, but Scorsese's film is obviously deserving of nomination -- that tracking shot into the Copacabana is now legendary.



Never realised that Where the Heart Is received best Cinematography from the National Society of Film Critics. What an inspired choice.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:32 pm

Interestingly, all three of the critics' winners were omitted by Oscar this year -- The Sheltering Sky, Where the Heart Is, and Goodfellas. I'm still missing the first two, but Scorsese's film is obviously deserving of nomination -- that tracking shot into the Copacabana is now legendary.

As others have said, it's nice that Willis FINALLY got a nomination for his work on the Godfather trilogy. But at this point in the series, it's hard to get too excited about it. The photography in the first film was groundbreaking, and would have made an excellent winner. The cinematography in the sequel wasn't quite as revolutionary, but beautifully expanded the style of its predecessor to a broader canvas. The third film...looks like what we expect a Godfather film to look like. It's hard to vote for something that just feels like a retread of more impressive work.

Henry & June is shot with the kind of arty sensuality that appropriately matches its subject matter, even though I think the film overall feels a bit like Kaufman's leftovers from Unbearable Lightness. I would say the cinematography here is a cut above that of your typical European period drama -- there's imaginative framing, painterly compositions, and expressive lighting throughout the film. It's not so stunning as to get my vote, but it's meritorious work.

Dick Tracy is certainly a visual wow, though I'd agree even moreso in the production design arena. Still, the photography is obviously eye-catching -- the colorful lighting, larger-than-life shadows, and flashy camera moves make the film feel like the frames of a comic book come to life. But I've endorsed all three of Storaro's Oscar wins so far, and this feels a bit lesser and more frivolous by comparison, so I'll hold off joining the majority in picking him again here.

I will echo Mister Tee's praise of the images from the early portion of Avalon -- when I think of the movie, the first thing that comes to mind are those beautiful shots of the fireworks bursting over Mueller-Stahl's character as he arrives in the country (images which are nicely echoed by fireworks later in the film). On the whole, this is an elegantly shot film, full of nostalgia for a bygone era, but without the kind of gauzy haze that over-sentimentalizes too many movies of this nature. I can see why some of you have voted for it.

I'm going to risk losing major hipster points here, but I went with Dances With Wolves. Costner's film was sorely over-rewarded on Oscar night -- its top-category victories over Goodfellas are crushing -- but I have more affection for the movie than some, and the cinematography is perhaps the film's most praise-worthy element. It's an epic film in the old-fashioned sense, but a genuinely majestic one, and there are sequences -- the buffalo hunt, the Pawnee attack, the final ride off into the snow-capped hills -- that capture the beauty and harshness of the American West as it was disappearing about as well as any film. And those shots of the sky -- harsh red sunsets, bright pink clouds, expansive blues during the day, moonlit shadows at night -- are heavenly. It may be the predictable choice, but I think it's too beautifully shot to pass up.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:40 pm

The clear omission is The Sheltering Sky, which won the NY critics' prize and finished second in LA. Apparently the kink in the plot blackballed the film from all consideration. It's odd, how some of the directors who swept in this era for their big epics were then almost wholly ignored with their follow-up epics -- Bertolucci here, Attenborough with Cry Freedom...

...and Costner, with his every effort past his year's dominant award showing. Why America fell so in love with Dances with Wolves has always eluded me -- I didn't think there was an original moment in the three bloody hours -- but clearly a movie with that popularity and sweep was going to win this category without effort. It will not, however, get my concurrence.

Godfather III, in this category as in the main ones, isn't exactly a bad nominee, but it feels like a pale remnant of the bracing original(s). As Pauline Kael noted, the film resembles the earlier two films, but in a diminished way, which devalued the earlier films to a degree. It's a shame that Gordon Willis, who should have won for the first film, is just a pointless tag-on here.

Henry and June is a good-looking film, and a happy nominee. Rousselot's time was not far down the road.

Dick Tracy saw to it that Storaro wasn't overlooked entirely, despite the Sheltering Sky omission. Beatty's film is certainly a success in visual terms, but, like some others we've discussed, it seemed more a design triumph that a cinematographer's. The concept was audacious (as someone said, it was Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in reverse -- rather than cartoon characters in real settings, it was real characters in cartoon settings), and it's probably to the cinematographer's credit that the film is so seamless. But it doesn't quite get my vote.

Avalon was a bit of a letdown as a film -- I'd been a huge Levinson fan after Diner and Tin Men, and hoped this would be a magnum opus for him. But the story, after a strong start, meandered its way to an unsatisfying conclusion. Its look, however, was fairly spectacular: capturing both the glitter and the decay of The New World as experienced by immigrants a century ago. There are images that leap immediately to mind (especially from the early parts of the film), which is enough reason for me to choose the film here.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:08 am

Not a bad line-up by any means but they could have done better. I voted for Henry and June.

Omissions include: The Sheltering Sky, Wild at Heart, Jungle Fever & Edward Scissorhands.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby Reza » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:26 pm

Storaro's exceptional work in Dick Tracy gets my vote.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1990

Postby mlrg » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:02 am

Not a bad set of nominees. Voted for Dances with Wolves

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Best Cinematography 1990

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:31 am

1990 was easily the worst year for Oscar caliber films since the period from 1928/29-1933.

The two best films of the year, Cinema Paradiso (which won the previous year's Best Foreign Language Film award) and Dekalog (shown in specialty venues) were ineligible in all categories. The BAFTA winner for Best cinematography, the French Cyrano de Bergerac was not nominated.

The Oscar nominees mirrored the ASC nominees with the exception of Ghost, which was replaced by Dick Tracy, a true head-scratcher, which without Vittorio Storaro's name attached to it probably wouldn't have been nominated.

Henry & June had the most beautiful cinematography among the nominees, but the story was a bit of a slog. Avalon was also great to look at and The Godfather Part III covered a lot of territory, making them palatable nominees, but nothing shouts "gimme an Oscar, I deserve it" in any of the nominees, including the ponderous winner, Dances with Wolves which was probably a rote winner as the least objectionable nominee for most voters in all seven categories that it won, the not nominated here, GoodFellas, notwithstanding.

With "none of the above" a viable option for me, I half-heartedly cast my ballot for Avalon.
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