Roger Deakins, Skyfall
Ron Fricke, Samsara
Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master
Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight Rises
Masanobu Takayanagi, The Grey
Tons of outstanding work this year, and a tough category to narrow down. Roger Deakins’ stunning imagery for Skyfall is an absolute gimee, as is Wally Pfister’s work on The Dark Knight Rises, which continued the innovations of its predecessor with a much greater amount of IMAX 70mm photography. Mihai Malaimare Jr. also shot on 70mm for The Master, and the results were breathtaking in every way – not just for the enhanced clarity of the format. Masanobu Takayanagi is quickly becoming one of my favorite Directors of Photography, and his ability to so clearly capture the stark, horrifying chill of the Alaskan tundra in The Grey stands as his greatest achievement to date.
But the winner here, without a shadow of a doubt, is Ron Fricke and Samsara, a beautiful tone-poem of a documentary that features some of the most incredible photography humans have ever captured. Also shot on 70mm, Fricke never ceases to innovate in the way he observes our world, and while Samsara may not, on the whole, be quite as great as Koyaanisqatsi or Baraka, it may be the most visually potent of the lot.
Dream Winner: Ron Fricke, Samsara
Tough Omissions: Robert Richardson, Django Unchained; Tom Stern, The Hunger Games; Masanobu Takayanagi, Silver Linings Playbook; Seamus McGarvey, The Avengers; Robert Yeoman, Moonrise Kingdom; Steve Yedlin, Looper; Franke Griebe and John Toll, Cloud Atlas; Danny Cohen, Les Miserables
Alexander Berner, Cloud Atlas
Jeffrey Ford and Lisa Lassek, The Avengers
Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, Samsara
William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty
Fred Raskin, Django Unchained
Another strong field, albeit one where the winner is absolutely obvious. After all, no other editor this year had such a complex task as Alexander Berner did on Cloud Atlas, linking six stories together into one seamless, flowing experience, and that means Berner’s success just naturally shines a little more brightly than anyone else’s. But that should not take away from the task Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson had assembling five years worth of footage on Samsara, or the from the monumental task Jeffery Ford and Lisa Lassek faced putting together several historically vast action sequences in The Avengers. This kind of stuff is harder than it looks. Zero Dark Thirty is probably the runner-up here, as William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor’s editing reflects the complexities of the story without sacrificing narrative propulsion, and Fred Raskin deserves major praise for doing the late Sally Menke proud on Django Unchained, one of 2012’s best examples of classical, invisible editing.
Dream Winner: Alexander Berner, Cloud Atlas
Tough Omissions: Lee Smith, The Dark Knight Rises; Stuart Baird and Kate Baird, Skyfall; Bob Duscay, Looper; Michael Kahn, Lincoln; Melanie Ann Oliver and Chris Dickens, Les Miserables; William Goldenberg, Argo
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