ASC Awards 2020: Roger Deakins Wins Top Prize for ‘1917’

Bill Desowitz

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Cinematographer Roger Deakins won the top prize Saturday night at the 34th annual ASC Awards (at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland) for his bravura camera work on “1917,” the continuous-shot, World War I extravaganza, directed by Sam Mendes.

Deakins beat Phedon Papamichael (“Ford v Ferrari”), Rodrigo Prieto (“The Irishman”), Robert Richardson (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), and Lawrence Sher (“Joker”). The latter three are Oscar-nominated with Deakins. The fifth nominee, Jarin Blaschke (“The Lighthouse”), earned the ASC Spotlight Award for his gritty, Gothic-looking black-and-white cinematography.

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Additionally, Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma took the ASC Documentary category for “Honeyland.”

Given the Best Picture momentum and universal acclaim for the technical feat, Deakins moves a step closer to his second Oscar. He finally landed his first with “Blade Runner 2049″ after 14 Academy Award nominations. Deakins leads the ASC with five wins (which also include“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “Skyfall,” and “Blade Runner 2049”).

“1917” is not only the tour de force of the season, but also the boldest movie of Deakins’ legendary career. He debuted ARRI’s new Alexa Mini LF, the lightweight, large-format camera, paired with a 40mm Signature Prime lens. It was perfect for winding his way through the trenches. This provided higher resolution and shallow depth of field in keeping with the period look of World War I photography.

For Deakins, coming up with the visual language was like shooting master shots without coverage: the interaction between the soldiers and the ravaged but sometimes beautiful landscape. The naturalistic lighting scheme consisted of overcast skies during the day and controlled lighting for interiors and at night. The experience took him back to doing war zone documentaries, “where you have to put yourself in the right position to reflect what’s happening in front of you,” he said.

The full list of winners:

Theatrical Release
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC – “1917”
Phedon Papamichael, ASC, GSC for “Ford v Ferrari”
Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC for “THe Irishman”
Robert Richardson, ASC for “Omce Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Lawrence Sher, ASC for “Joker”

Spotlight Award
Jarin Blaschke – “The Lighthouse”
Natasha Braier, ASC, ADF for “Honey Boy”
Jasper Wolf, NSC for “Monos”

Documentary Category
Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma – “Honeyland”
Nicholas de Pencier – “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch”
Evangelia Kranioti – “Obscuro Barroco”

Motion Picture, Miniseries, or Pilot Made for Television
John Conroy, ISC – “The Terror: Infamy,” “A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest” (AMC)
P.J. Dillon, ISC – “The Rook,” “Chapter 1” (Starz)
Chris Manley, ASC – “Doom Patrol,” pilot (DC Universe)
Martin Ruhe, ASC – “Catch-22,” “Episode 5” (Hulu)
Craig Wrobleski, CSC – “The Twilight Zone,” “Blurryman” (CBS All Access)

Episode of a Series for Commercial Television
Dana Gonzales, ASC – “Legion,” “Chapter 20” (FX)
C. Kim Miles, CSC, MySC – “Project Blue Book,” “The Flatwoods Monster” (History)
Polly Morgan, ASC, BSC – “Legion,” “Chapter 23” (FX)
Peter Robertson, ISC – “Vikings,” “Hell” (History)
David Stockton, ASC – “Gotham,” “Ace Chemicals” (FOX)

Episode of a Series for Non-Commercial Television
David Luther – “Das Boot,” “Gegen die Zeit” (episode 6) (Sky)
M. David Mullen, ASC – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Simone” (Amazon)
Chris Seager, BSC – “Carnival Row,” “Grieve No More” (Amazon)
Brendan Steacy, CSC – “Titans,” “Dick Grayson” (DC Universe)
Colin Watkinson, ASC, BSC – “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Night” (Hulu)

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