Oscars: Will Roger Deakins, the Susan Lucci of Cinematographers, Finally Win?

Will_Roger_Deakins_Finally_Win - H 2015
David James

Will_Roger_Deakins_Finally_Win - H 2015

This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

With his 12th nomination, a record for a living cinematographer, will Roger Deakins finally prevail and win his first Oscar for Unbroken? Can Emmanuel Lubezki — last year's cinematography winner for Gravity — repeat with Birdman? Or does this year's lineup open the door for another nominee? Those are the questions Academy members must answer as they ponder their Oscar ballots.

Deakins, one of the most respected cinematographers of his generation, is overdue for his first win. But Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini, received just three craft noms — and Deakins missed out on a BAFTA nom — so he faces long odds.

Read more Oscar Nominations 2015: The Complete List

Lubezki — who has earned his seventh Oscar nomination — won for the first time with Gravity. His work in Birdman, filmed as if it's one continuous shot, is equally inventive. But in the history of the cinematography Oscar, there has been only one back-to-back winner: John Toll, who won in 1994 and 1995 for Legends of the Fall and Braveheart, respectively. So Lubezki also will have to overcome that obstacle.

The rest of the contenders are vying for their first Oscar. Dick Pope — who, after Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his last name as "Poop" on nomination morning, joked, "I've been called worse" — is up for the painterly Mr. Turner, which earned him a BAFTA nomination and recognition at Cannes. Robert Yeoman — another BAFTA nominee and one of director Wes Anderson's longtime collaborators — brought the colorful and quirky The Grand Budapest Hotel to the screen in style. That film earned nine Oscar noms, making it a popular favorite.

Read more Oscar Noms Snafus: "Dick Poop" Nominated, Press Site Down

Then there's Ida, photo­graphed by Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski. The black-and-white foreign-language category nominee, which also was BAFTA-nominated for cinematography, has been embraced by the cinematography community, winning several important awards. But can Ida win at the Oscars? Schindler's List was the last black-and-white film to earn an Oscar in cinematography, and that was two decades ago, in 1994.