Oscars: ARRI Alexa Camera of Choice for Nominees; Kodak Holds Its Own

American Sniper - H 2014
Keith Bernstein

American Sniper - H 2014

There's a few observations that can be made about production technology trends when looking at this year's Academy Awards nominations.

For one, ARRI's popular Alexa digital cinematography camera was, unsurprisingly, the tool of choice for production on many of the year's top movies, including the majority of the best picture and best cinematography nominees that will compete for Academy Awards on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Kodak demonstrated that it's not out of the game, with film-lensed movies also in the mix and dominating in the category for direction.

Four of the five nominees in the cinematography category were photographed using the ARRI Alexa: Birdman, Ida, Mr. Turner and Unbroken. The fifth nominee, The Grand Budapest Hotel, was shot on Kodak film.

In the best picture race, the Alexa was used to photograph American Sniper, Birdman, Selma, The Theory of Everything (which also used film in certain sequences), Whiplash and the aforementioned Birdman. The final three best picture nominees — Boyhood, The Imitation Game and aforementioned Grand Budapest — were shot on film.

Interestingly, four of the five films that earned a best direction nomination— Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Grand Budapest and Imitation Game — are film based. The fifth was Birdman.

As Hollywood has moved to digital, the ARRI Alexa has been dominating high-end production. Kodak remains the last maker of motion picture film.

Earlier this month, Kodak finalized deals with the major Hollywood studios that will allow film to remain alive, at least for the near future. To make this happen, a group of leading filmmakers who are passionate celluloid supporters -— including Christopher Nolan, who used film on Oscar nominee Interstellar, and Foxcatcher's nominated director Bennett Miller — stepped up to urge Hollywood to keep film going.

Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. have all reached agreements with Kodak to purchase undisclosed amounts of film over "a few" years that would be enough to extend Kodak's film manufacturing business.

Kodak was on hand to promote film during awards season, for instance sponsoring last weekend's American Society of Cinematographers Awards nominees dinner.

Email: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA