Best Cinematography 2009

Of the 2009 Oscar nominees for Best Cinematography, which was best?

Avatar (Maura Fiore)
0
No votes
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Bruno Delbonnel)
0
No votes
The Hurt Locker (Barry Ackroyd)
0
No votes
Inglourious Basterds (Robert Richardson)
2
11%
The White Ribbon (Christian Berger)
16
89%
 
Total votes: 18

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6527
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:35 pm

dws1982 wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:I read all the Harry Potter books and saw all the movies, but even with that I have trouble remembering anything about the look of the Half-Blood Prince. By me, Prisoner of Azkaban was the only one of the series hat had any distinction as a film.

This is the most surprising thing I've read here in awhile. It's at least as surprising to me as my avoiding The 15:17 to Paris was to you.

I can see where you'd find that surprising. I don't generally like fantasy -- until the Peter Jackson movies, I'd managed to go my whole life without having an opinion about Tolkien, and I'm not even lightly tempted to watch Game of Thrones.

The Potter thing was one of my periodic attempts to understand popular culture. I'd never even noticed the first two books, but then suddenly they were number one on the Times best-seller list for what seemed eons (The Times literally changed its method of ranking books to get the Potter books shoved off elsewhere), and I was curious enough to look into them that my wife gave me the (then) three existing books for Christmas. I found them extremely easy to read (Rowling was no innovator, but she knew how to construct a page-turner), and, after the three, I was invested in the saga, and followed the series to the end. (The movies, of course, were initially things I had to see for potential Oscar nominations, and then my wife -- who never read the books -- had the same "I've got to see how this turns out" curiosity that I'd had about the books, so we followed them through to the end. Though I think the last 3 or 4 were strictly home viewing.)

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7426
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Sabin » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:07 am

Mister Tee wrote
You want to pick on An Education, with The Blind Side in the mix?

I keep forgetting it was nominated.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

dws1982
Tenured
Posts: 3004
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL
Contact:

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:43 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I read all the Harry Potter books and saw all the movies, but even with that I have trouble remembering anything about the look of the Half-Blood Prince. By me, Prisoner of Azkaban was the only one of the series hat had any distinction as a film.

This is the most surprising thing I've read here in awhile. It's at least as surprising to me as my avoiding The 15:17 to Paris was to you.

Not much to add here. My vote would've gone with The White Ribbon, like most everyone else, with The Hurt Locker as the only other one I think really deserved a nomination.

Based on my list, I had Everlasting Moments (which was ineligible, I think) as my number one, with The White Ribbon, Katyn (also not eligible), Summer Hours, and The Baader Meinhof Complex (again, not eligible) filling it out. If I had taken out the ineligibles, I would sub in The Hurt Locker, Two Lovers, and maybe Bright Star, or A Serious Man (although it's one of my least favorite Coen films--although I am interested in revisiting it).

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6527
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:36 pm

Sabin wrote: 2009 kicked off several less-than-fun traditions. One of them was the expanded roster from five to ten (just in time for... An Education?).


You want to pick on An Education, with The Blind Side in the mix?

Sabin wrote: Another fun tradition was the ASC picking something genius (The White Ribbon, The Tree of Life, Skyfall) and the Academy going with said "3D Oscar Film" (Avatar, Hugo, Life of Pi)


I'd say this is a "one of these does not belong" situation, but I'll hold off until the year in question.

Sometimes, when I look back at certain years -- and especially sequences of years -- I wonder how we all maintained our interest in film during these stretches. 2008/2009 is, for me, a real trough, and the calibre of competition is well below years like 2007 or 2013.

Unlike in 2008, I have significant disagreement with this branch's choices for the year. I note that I have A Single Man, A Serious Man and The Road all on my personal ballot, leaving room for only two of the Academy-designated group.

I read all the Harry Potter books and saw all the movies, but even with that I have trouble remembering anything about the look of the Half-Blood Prince. By me, Prisoner of Azkaban was the only one of the series hat had any distinction as a film.

I was pretty sure Avatar was going to win at the Oscars -- it was the original shiny new toy of the 3-D era -- but I was pretty equally sure it wouldn't take the guild, because there really was no particular art to it. That was true of Titanic, as well, but Titanic was in near-Gone with the Wind territory in 1997 -- worshiped by most of Hollywood, enough to glide by any faults. Avatar, despite equal grosses, wasn't taken quite seriously.

Which is why The Hurt Locker, despite anemic box-office, was able to run off with all the top prizes that year -- it was about the only film the critics truly liked AND took seriously. It's possible Hurt Locker might have got a nomination here even without its best picture prominence -- the bland, arid desert settings are fully realized, and become part of the film's effect. But clearly this nod is mostly a tribute to Bigelow's overall achievement. It wouldn't get my vote, but it's not a bad nominee.

Inglourious Basterds is probably my favorite Tarantino movie, and it's full of scenes that are both memorable and memorably shot -- the theatre fire, as noted, the most impressive. Richardson probably deserves the runner-up trophy.

But,of course, The White Ribbon. Not just because it's that black-and-white w all love so much, but because it provides the most textured use of black-and-white we've perhaps seen. Most such films are all about light and shadow (The Man Who Wasn't There, Good Night and Good Luck sterling examples); The White Ribbon finds tiny details in its pictures that go beyond that -- that seem to view the story-line through the point of view of a time when black-and-white is all that was possible. There's one memorable image after another, and all seem to work in the service of the film's suggestive narrative. Truly a gorgeous piece of work, and the easy choice here.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4222
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jul 26, 2018 6:53 pm

I had Bright Star and A Single Man down as my alternates this year.

It's not that the Harry Potter movie is poorly shot or anything -- once you get past the first couple Chris Columbus movies, the visual imagination in the series improves considerably -- but this is such a random nomination. Why this movie and not any Harry Potter chapter before or since? Couldn't tell you.

Avatar isn't that high on my list in this category, though I'm a bit surprised anyone would view it as one of the ugliest movies ever. I thought it was a pretty transporting visual experience -- one of the few times when I thought 3D really added something -- but my caveat would be that of this run of films that won cinematography and visual effects in tandem, I rate Avatar the one whose visual impact relied most on the superlative effects. Which is to say, I think the photography is closer to standard blockbuster fare than something special.

Inglourious Basterds is a handsomely shot affair, with key suspense sequences (the opening farmhouse, the rathskeller card game) aided extensively by the precise lighting and compositions. The film reaches its visual peak in the theater burning climax, with moments like the screen burning up Shoshana's cackling face lingering in the memory. I don't think the film kicks up into winner territory, but it's a solid nominee.

The verisimilitude of The Hurt Locker is a key component of its success, and the sandy, dusty quality of its images -- punctuated by sudden bursts of fiery explosions -- really transports the viewer into the world of the film. I think this movie is just an exceptional piece of filmmaking craft, and it wouldn't remotely be the riveting experience it is without the dynamic camerawork. Still, while I was rooting for the film to win many Oscar categories that night, this wasn't one of them.

Because The White Ribbon just wipes the floor with everything else this year. The wonderful use of lighting within the black-and-white images is truly striking. But the compositions are even more impressive -- numerous scenes take place in meticulously composed long shots, and the whole film looks not so much like an old photograph from the era, but like a slightly artificial, even forced attempt to replicate one (reinforcing the allegorical nature of the story.) And the film manages to visually incorporate the title quite often, as numerous images appear to have bands of white "ribbons" at the top or bottom of the frames. This is a film whose detailed images incorporate a ton of storytelling information, in a beautifully stylized, artistic manner. Far and away the best choice.

User avatar
Precious Doll
Emeritus
Posts: 3531
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:58 am

The White Ribbon is such an easy choice.

The Hurt Locker & Inglourious Basterds are certainly good choices but that isn't anything that outstanding about the cinematography. The Harry Potter was a wasted choice for any number of more deserving nominees. I suppose at the time Avatar was something new, something different but now nearly 10 years later its really something of a shoulder shrug.

Omissions (some not eligible until the following year) include: A Single Man, City of Life and Death, Agora, Mother & The Portuguese Nun. Actually You Cao's stunning B&W lensing of City of Life and Death rivals The White Ribbon - shame his career has since been regulated to mainstream Chinese junk for the home market.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8179
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Reza » Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:47 pm

Extraordinary images in a creepy, harrowing film. A no brainer. The White Ribbon should have won the Oscar in this category.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15780
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:44 pm

2009 was not a very good year for cinematography. Avatar was one of the ugliest looking movies I've ever seen. I wouldn't nominate it for anything, let alone give it 9 Oscar nominations and 3 wins including this one. Finding a suitable replacement, though, isn't all that easy. I would probably say District 9 and The Young Victoria were the most deserving of the non-nominees. The White Ribbon, though, has the most striking imagery and gets my vote over The Hurt Locker, which would be my second choice.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

mlrg
Adjunct
Posts: 1113
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Re: Best Cinematography 2009

Postby mlrg » Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:02 pm

A Single Man should have won this.

I haven’t seen White Ribbon. Out of the other nominees I’ll vote for Inglorious Bastards.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7426
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Best Cinematography 2009

Postby Sabin » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:58 am

Like everyone on this board, I am going to cast my vote for The White Ribbon. I recall being slightly underwhelmed by it at the time, but I think were I to see it again today that wouldn't be the case. I have nothing but respect for Hankeke's ambition in making it this dark, bludgeoning look at the dark calm before the storm of World War I. This was clearly the cinematography triumph of the year, sweeping all major critic's awards as well as winning the ASC award for Christian Berger. Could that have been because even they couldn't deny its beauty?

Or maybe the competition was just lousy. The field was so weak they had to honor a Harry Potter film. I'll say this: The Half-Blood Prince was the first time that I understand the Harry Potter hype. The world of Hogwarts felt like a tactile place with stairwells and basements. I'm not going to give it a win but it deserves to be remembered a bit more seriously than it is today, especially considering the film it surely wrestled a nomination from: Rob Marshall's disastrous Nine. If not Nine, then what? Best case scenario would be Javier Aguirresarobe for The Road, John Hillcoat's indifferently received (but quite good) adaptation of McCarthy's great novel. Or maybe A Serious Man, Antichrist, or Bright Star.

Or maybe Avatar was a bridge too far for the ASC. 2009 kicked off several less-than-fun traditions. One of them was the expanded roster from five to ten (just in time for... An Education?). Another was the "3D Oscar Film." We seem done with them at the moment but for this span of five years this category was ruled by putting on your 3D Specs. Another fun tradition was the ASC picking something genius (The White Ribbon, The Tree of Life, Skyfall) and the Academy going with said "3D Oscar Film" (Avatar, Hugo, Life of Pi), raising the question "How many people should be up there accepting this award?" Clearly, more than just the guy who lit the green-screen. While it's not a triumph of lensing or lighting, it is a breakthrough film that was shot in such a way that broke through a new technology so I can respect it on that level. I recall being fairly certain that Avatar would triumph in this category, although the film's inability to win either Oscar for Sound Mixing/Effects was a sign early on that this thing just didn't have the respect it needed. Unlike The Hurt Locker. In retrospect, it wouldn't have been that surprising for The Hurt Locker to win here either. It's difficult for me to look at The Hurt Locker and not first think more as a feat of coverage than cinematography. But isn't that cinematography too? A nomination for this fine film is plenty.

As is the case for Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino's true Oscar breakthrough. It's a shame that none of his nominated collaborations with Robert Richardson are as good as their work on Kill Bill: Vol. 1. It's quite a well-shot film but like most of the film's nominations, it feels lucky to have pulled in the tally that it did.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


Return to “82nd Predictions and Precursors”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests