Roger Deakins is a prolific and obviously amazing cinematographer and Director of Photographer. His IMDb page is a long, long list of films that are visually stunning and effective. He’s won 3 BAFTAs and been nominated for 5 more, won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers and 4 Best Cinematography awards from the British Society of Cinematographers, and won countless more awards (see them all on his IMDb). He’s been nominated for a whopping twelve Oscars, all for his outstanding cinematography, and not won a single one.
Shawshank Redemption was beaten by Legends of the Fall in 1995, Fargo to The English Patient in 1997, No Country For Old Men to There Will Be Blood in 2008. Okay, so he also lost out to the visually brilliant and still praised Titanic, Inception and Life of Pi, but we’re talking about a career full of masterpieces and no Oscar statuette on his mantelpiece.
The films he was a part of are all a treat for the eye, including the gritty, old feeling True Grit, the bright and somehow simultaneously muted The Big Lebowski, and the above mentioned Shawshank Redemption, who’s visuals cemented the sheer reverence it commands.
His latest offering to our eyes is the worth-it sequel to paradoxically massively popular cult classic Blade Runner. Keeping its predecessor’s rainy neon city scenes, there is a real feeling that this is the same place, many years later. Deakins not only makes the film feel visually matched to the first, which he was not involved with, but brings his own touches. The rainy, high tech city contrasts but compliments the dusty, abandoned opulence in the desert.
Now, the Oscars are all decided individually; not only are the nominees’ awards histories not supposed to be a factor in the award decisions, but the other award categories are not supposed to be a factor. Whilst a cinematography Oscar is going to depend purely on comparing this film to whatever other ones are nominated, public opinion does take everything into account. Remember when Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar?
Of course, Directors of Photography are not as visible to the average moviegoer. You see the actors’ faces in each film. The Director is the big name in the credits, too. The DoP, however, might be making the huge visual decisions but isn’t a role that non-filmmakers are as aware of. It’s easy to think through all the films you’ve seen Harrison Ford’s face in, and directors with multiple hit films under their belts are well known as mini-genres; Tarantino, Spielberg, the Wachowskis… But, if it isn’t the kind of thing you’re specifically interested in, you probably can’t name another director of photography.
Remember, a quick run-through of Deakin’s resume includes Barton Fink, The Secret Garden, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, A Beautiful Mind, The Ladykillers, The Village, Jarhead, No Country For Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, True Grit, Rango, Skyfall, Sicario and Hail Caesar!. There are seventy-seven films under his cinematography section on IMDb. And he hasn’t won a single Oscar.
With its October release, Blade Runner 2049 has missed the 2017 Oscars, so there’s a wait for the next nominations. Hopefully, it won’t be too far off to include it. Regardless of how many amazing films come out before then, and how many other Oscars it gets nominated for, this film should get cinematography. Deakins ought to have at least one Oscar on his mantelpiece