After 14 nominations, legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins received a standing ovation as he accepted his first Oscar, on the strength of Denis Villeneuve’s futuristic Blade Runner 2049.
It was a huge moment for U.K.-born Deakins, 68, who is considered one of the all-time greats in his field.
“A big part of me was saying, ‘Please, please no,'” Deakins chuckled backstage, describing his moment in his humble way. “I think it’s great because I’ve worked with a lot of the same people on my crew for years and years and I feel like it’s recognition for their work. They are also watching in London and New York and Budapest. I’d like to have mentioned every one of them. Because I think it’s just as great for them.”
Prior to the Oscars, Deakins had already claimed four BAFTAs and four American Society of Cinematographers Awards (including, in recent weeks, one of each for Blade Runner). He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and he received the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award — but an Oscar had continued to elude him. He had prior nominations for The Shawshank Redemption; Fargo; Kundun; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; The Man Who Wasn’t There; No Country for Old Men; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; The Reader; True Grit; Skyfall; Unbroken; and Villeneuve’s Prisoners and Sicario.
Winning this year’s Oscar race, Deakins topped a field that included Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison, who also made history this year as the first woman to be nominated for a cinematography Oscar; Bruno Delbonnel for Darkest Hour; Hoyte Van Hoytema for Dunkirk; and Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water.
Deakins is currently working on The Goldfinch, the John Crowley-helmed adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name by Donna Tartt.
Read his full speech below:
Hey, thank you, thank you. I guess I better say something or else they’ll give me a jet ski and I don’t see myself on a jet ski somehow. I want to share this with my wife of 27 years, James. Whatever. I want to share it with Andrew, Broderick and Denis Villeneuve. You know, I — I really love my job. I’ve been doing it a long time, as you can see, but you know, one of the reasons I really love it is the people I work with, both in front of the camera and behind the camera. Some of my crew on Blade Runner I’ve been working with for over 30 years. And others — others I met for the first time in Budapest. And this is for every one of them. Every one of them, in fact, I got to say, it’s for us, because it was a team, it was a really team effort. Thank you.