Eye of the Beholder: The 2016 Oscar Nominees for Best Cinematography

Watch and judge for yourself.

2016 was a great year for cinematography, as indicated by the five men nominated for the Oscar in the field: there’s Bradford Young, whose haunting, almost predatory camerawork in Arrival could make him the first African-American winner in the category; Linus Sandgren, who referenced classic musicals from all eras and blended them into the vibrancy of La La Land; Greig Fraser, who used his lens almost like a passenger or a bystander observing the graceful beauty of Lion; James Laxton, who created moods and tones so tangible you can practically reach out and feel them in Moonlight; and veteran Rodrigo Prieto, who lent his careful, measured eye to Martin Scorsese’s Silence.

The safe vote would seem to be Sandgren, but Fraser snuck in a victory at the ASC awards, so the category is far from locked. Me personally, I’m pulling for Young, but this is the closest the race has been in a long time— thanks Emmanuel Lubezki for not shooting a film last year – and though the nominees aren’t as diverse as most of us would like (Natasha Braier deserves to be there for her amazing work on Refn’s The Neon Demon) the work that’s represented is truly worthy of awards.

Before you make up your mind on who you think should walk away with Oscar Gold, check out the following video collecting clips from each of the nominated films. I knew someone was going to make this video, but it makes me pleased as punch to see it’s Jacob T. Swinney who actually did the deed, because he edits like a cinematographer, in my opinion, with a real mind for imagery. The shots he’s selected from each film are both beautiful and representative of the work as a whole. So press play then cast your ballot. The Oscar’s air not this Sunday, but next on ABC.

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