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Video: What Does Oscar-Winning Cinematography Look Like?

Which movie should win the Academy Award for its outstanding images and camerawork? Watch the footage and judge for yourself.

By Kevin B. Lee February 19, 2013

Oscar nominees for cinematography 'Lincoln' and 'Skyfall' were favorites in my Twitter polling.

As a bonus to the “Who Should Win” video essay series that identifies this year’s truly deserving Oscar winners, this video compiles some of the most impressive visuals from the five films nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography. Of all the Oscar categories, this one may lend itself best to a simple video compilation of clips that lets you decide for yourself which movie deserves to win.  All you have to do is watch and decide. Or is it really that simple?

Of course, one can’t evaluate all the films in their entirety in one sitting. I’ve limited the selections for each film to two standout clips not exceeding a total of 90 seconds. To do this, I enlisted the suggestions of the Twittersphere. Over a dozen people tweeted their standout shots and images from the nominated films, with several moments getting multiple mentions and thus finding their way into this compilation reel. Based on sheer number of enthusiastic tweets on their behalf, it seems that Skyfall and Lincoln are the popular favorites.

I made one additional tweak to the video by removing the audio from the clips. It may be a bit jarring to watch these scenes without a soundtrack, but it’s for the sake of placing sole emphasis on the images and camerawork. I hope you’ll agree with me that, by and large, the visual artistry on display speaks quite well for itself.

Looking at these clips, I have my own opinion on who should win, but I’ll keep mum, as I’d rather see you cast your vote in the comments section. Perhaps a subsequent discussion below might tease out my favorite.

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  • BrandsAndFilms says:

    Awesome compilation.

    My vote goes to Life of Pi, although all five of them look great.

  • Val Vadeboncoeur says:

    Based on these clips, I’d go with either Life of Pi (for its total embrace of new digital technology) or Skyfall for its state-of-the-art go for it approach. Anna Karenina is pretty but conventional. Lincoln has its sepia color tone but that alone can get dull. Django Unchained shouldn’t be there, IMO.

  • Eduardo says:

    I don’t agree that you should judge the cinematography by looking at the clips, but view the movie and judge how to cinematography let you engage with the movie the most.

    IMO, in Life of Pi the cinematography sucks you into the movie.

  • Shane Foster says:

    Personally I didn’t like “Life of Pi” as a whole so the cinematography was just mediocre to me. It was overly artsy to me and way too much color for the whole shipwrecked concept. It was unique but didn’t really fit IMO. I liked Skyfall, but didn’t think it was spectacular cinematography. Still haven’t seen the other two. I suspect I will like the Noir-ish cinematography of “Lincoln” just because I’m a Noir fan.

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