Rachel Morrison Becomes First Woman Nominated for a Cinematography Oscar

"It’s not just about cinematography, it about believing in yourself and that anything’s possible," she said minutes after the nomination was announced.
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"There's no stopping us," exclaimed Rachel Morrison, who Tuesday morning broke another glass ceiling in Hollywood, becoming the first woman to receive an Oscar nomination for cinematography. She was nominated for her work on Dee Rees’ Mudbound for Netflix.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Morrison via phone minutes after her nomination was announced. “Women are so qualified they should just go for it. It’s not just about cinematography, it about believing in yourself and that anything’s possible," she said. “I believe the job of the cinematographer is to visualize emotion — things we as women are inherently good at."

Morrison is looking forward to the day when she’s not viewed as a “woman” cinematographer, but just a cinematographer. “It comes down to statistics. If women are only 2 percent of the working DPs, it's not surprising there haven’t been more women [nominated]. I’ve been reaching out to more women and hiring more women, not just for the camera department but so that they can become cinematographers. If this [nomination] says anything, there’s no stopping us!”

Morrison's voice was still a bit shaky as she processed the news. “I’m honestly shocked, but I’m thrilled and excited. It’s amazing. A dream come true,” she said. “It happened so fast, I was confused. I couldn't figure out why my wife wanted me to get here so early,” she added with a laugh. She and her wife and son were at Burbank Airport when the announcement was made. They are on their way to Sundance, where Morrison is serving on the dramatic feature jury.

Earlier this month, she also became the first woman to collect at American Society of Cinematographers Award in its feature competition. Her previous credits include Fruitvale Station, Cake, Dope and Sound of My Voice. She also lensed Marvel’s Black Panther, which opens next month.

This year, she’s nominated for the Academy Award in a competitive field that also includes Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049, Bruno Delbonnel for Darkest Hour, Hoyte Van Hoytema for Dunkirk and Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water. It’s the 14th nomination for veteran Deakins, the fifth for Delbonnel, and the first nomination for Van Hoytema and Laustsen.

Deakins, Van Hoytema, Laustsen and Morrison participated in this season's THR Cinematographer Roundtable.