In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb fahrenheit eleven nine

Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

Thumb american chaos doc

American Chaos

A heartfelt but scattershot documentary that tries to get inside the mind of Donald Trump's America, but mainly succeeds as a snapshot of the 2016…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary blade runner 2049 2017

Video Essay: Roger Deakins: 0 for 13

At this point, it’s safe to say that Roger Deakins can shoot anything and it would look remarkable. The cinematographer has become something of living legend in the industry. Filmmakers and cinephiles revel at his body of work and his presence behind the camera is only bolstered by his prolific work ethic. Deakins started his career lensing several documentary shorts from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s before going on to photograph feature length films. By the time Deakins earned his first Academy Award nomination for 1994’s "The Shawshank Redemption," he already had the following feature credits under his belt: "1984," "Sid and Nancy," "Barton Fink" and "The Secret Garden." Flash-forward to present day and it’s to no one’s surprise that he’s been nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar an impressive 13 times. The only surprising thing about that stat is that he’s still yet to win an Oscar.

Advertisement

Of course, an artist’s body of work shouldn’t be assessed by their awards trophy-count but in the case of Deakins’ filmography, it’s a bit outrageous that the Academy hasn’t honored his amazing images with a statuette. Both the American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C.) and the National Board of Review have already given Roger Deakins their respective Lifetime Achievement Awards but this past weekend saw the release of Deakins’ latest film "Blade Runner 2049"—and there’s an electric buzz in the air that his work in this film will not only earn him his 14th Oscar nomination but it could very well win him his long overdue Academy Award.

In anticipation of this, I created the ironically titled video essay “Roger Deakins: 0 for 13” which gives a chronological look at the 13 films he’s been nominated for so far. There are some common threads in the imagery—the trance-like use of silhouettes, the ominous dread of rural landscapes, etc.—but what my montage shows more than anything is Deakins’ ability to elevate the images to emote a transcendent feeling. There’s something lyrical and elegiac about his work. For instance, the train robbery sequence from 2007’s "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is one of the most gorgeous things ever put on film. Does it function like a heist sequence we’re prone to seeing? No. It works on a different level. It transports us to a feeling of that particular time. It articulates the themes and ideas of what Jesse James’ mythos was into a visual language. 

Deakins’ cinematography isn’t just about capturing stunning images. It’s about exploring why the movies affect us the way they do. He reminds us that the image is the universal language that we can all be connected through, and if we’re fortunate, moved by. Whether or not he will ever win an Oscar becomes a moot point. His artistry and legacy is too massive to fit on any mantle anyways.

RogerEbert.com VIDEO ESSAY: Roger Deakins: 0 for 13 from Nelson Carvajal on Vimeo.

Popular Blog Posts

"You Were Expecting Someone Else?" Why a Non-White James Bond is the Franchise's Logical Next Step

Not only would Idris Elba make a great James Bond, the franchise has been building towards casting an actor of color ...

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

30 Minutes on: "The Meg"

Jason Statham versus a very big fish.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus