There are just 22 business days left until the Oscars, and yet it still feels like they're an eternity away. Part of that may have to do with the fact that the Winter Olympics (the only arena in which my home country can even come close to claiming world-power status, so I'll be watching them intently) has pushed the awards ceremony, and consequently the voting period, back a week.
Two of the craftsmen near the top of my list of people who are way overdue for an Oscar are nominated this year. While that does mean I am forced to go through the pain of seeing one of them lose yet again, there's a silver lining for once, as the other one is all but assured to take home the gold at long last. The two gentlemen I refer to, of course, are Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki, both of whom should have multiple Oscars by now.
Deakins has shown a recent knack for elevating pulpy source material with prestige-calibre photography, as evidenced by last year's nod for Skyfall and this year's nod for Prisoners. It's rich, evocative work throughout, but naturally, a victory is not in the cards. This being the film's only nomination makes it clear that the commercial thriller is not exceedingly well loved, and would make an atypical Oscar winner.
The theoretical runner-up -- although such speculation is pointless in this foregone a contest -- may be Phedon Papamichael for his bleak black-and-white lensing of Nebraska. This is the only one of the five that I myself did not chalk up for my own Best Cinematography honour, but that doesn't mean I'm at all bothered by its inclusion here. The work is very subtle yet effective, nicely capturing the tone of the piece. That said, I can't help but wonder if its Best Picture status gave it more than a wee boost at the nomination stage. It seems that Best Picture nominees in black-and-white get nominated for Best Cinematography regardless of how accomplished the work is.
One of my favourite nominations of the year, albeit one I should have seen coming after its surprise ASC nod, is for The Grandmaster. I did not care for the film when I saw it last summer, but I knew right away that Phillipe Le Sourd's lush compositions would be among my very favourite of the year. If it were more widely seen, a la Pan's Labyrinth or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it may actually have been in decent spoiler position, but it seems decidedly unlikely that enough Academy members have seen it.
Will win: Gravity
Should win: Gravity
Should've been nominated: Rush