ASC Awards: 'Birdman' Tops Cinematography Honors

Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki takes the top film prize. 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Manhattan' win in television.
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki' s  cinematography on Birdman — photographed to appear as one continuous take — won the feature competition for the 29th annual American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Awards on Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.

He topped a field of nominees that included Roger Deakins for UnbrokenOscar Faura for The Imitation GameDick Pope for Mr. Turner, and Robert Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

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Birdman, Grand Bupapest Hotel, Mr. Turner and Unbroken are nominated for the Oscar in cinematography, along with Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski for Ida (which was not eligible for this year's ASC Awards as it won last year's ASC Spotlight Award for the film). In five of the last 10 years, the winner of the ASC feature category went on to win the Oscar in cinematography.

Lubezki previously won ASC Awards for The Tree of LifeChildren of Men, and last year's Gravity, for which he also won an Oscar. Should Lubezki win an Oscar for Birdman, he will be the second cinematographer to win back-to-back Academy Awards in cinematography. (John Toll did this with Legends of the Fall and Braveheart).

With the ASC Award for Birdman, Lubezki tied legendary cinematographer Conrad L. Hall's record of four ASC Awards in the feature category.

Sunday in the television categories, ASC Awards were presented to Jonathan Freeman for Boardwalk Empire ("Golden Days for Boys and Girls"), in the category for an episode of a regular series; and John Lindley for Manhattan, in the category for a TV movie, miniseries or pilot. The Spotlight Award — recognizing cinematography in features and documentaries that are typically screened at film festivals, internationally or in limited release — went to Peter Flinckenberg for Concrete Night (Betoniyö).

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Barbra Streisand was honored with the ASC Board of Governors Award. She recalled the directors of photography that she has worked with, including Gordon Willis, Laszlo Kovacs and Andrej Bartkowiak (who presented), saying it's "a wonderful feeling to love your [cinematographer] and know that he is watching out for you," She added that she has shared an "artistic bond" with cinematographers, who "turn your dream into a reality."

Lawrence Kasdan presented director of photography John Bailey — whose credits include Ordinary PeopleAmerican Gigolo and The Big Chill — the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award. He thanked many friends and collaborators, including Kasdan. He recognized Fotokem "the last lab standing ... bless them for believing that film matters."

During his acceptance speech, he also paid tribute Sarah Jones, "an extraordinary woman who was taken from us a year ago this week."

He concluded by thanking his wife of 50 years, editor Carol Littleton.

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Bill Roe (X-Files, Castle) was presented the Career Achievement in Television Award; Phil Meheux (Casino Royale) was "gobsmacked" to be honored with the International Award; and Matthew F. Leonetti (Poltergeist) was recognized with the Presidents Award.

Denny Clairmont and Otto Nemenz received the Bud Stone Award during the ceremony.

Twitter: @CGinLA