Lensers cite Elswit for his 'Blood' work


Robert Elswit took the top honor for his work on "There Will Be Blood" in the feature film competition at the 22nd annual American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Awards.

The awards were held Saturday at Hollywood & Highland.

This year, the five nominated films in the ASC feature category are the same contenders for the Oscar in cinematography. The other noms were Roger Deakins, who had two nominations, for "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "No Country for Old Men"; Janusz Kaminski for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; and Seamus McGarvey for "Atonement."

Deakins, who also lensed 2007's "In the Valley of Elah," was the first cinematographer to earn two nominations in one year in the ASC feature competition.

Elswit was recognized for his rendering of California in the late 19th and early 20th century in the Paul Thomas Anderson drama about an oil tycoon, inspired by Upton Sinclair's novel "Oil." The cinematographer lensed two of this year's best picture Oscar nominees, the other being "Michael Clayton."

"I'm speechless. Thank you," said Elswit, who acknowledged his fellow nominees and the body of work created this year. He joked that there might be a need for a new category next year: "Best cinematography in a movie by Roger Deakins."

Ben Nott and Glen Winter earned top ASC honors in television, with Nott topping the movie/miniseries/pilot category for "The Company" and Winter winning the episodic TV competition for "Noir," an episode of "Smallville."

The ASC Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Stephen H. Burum, whose body of work includes "Hoffa," "The Untouchables" and "The War of the Roses."

"I still consider Steve my mentor," said Caleb Deschanel ("The Patriot"), who presented the award. "Steve is more than the sum of his work."

Burum offered thanks and concluded by asking his crew to stand and be recognized. "Without these people's support and help I would never have been able to accomplish what I accomplished," he said.

Donald Trump might be known for saying "You're fired," but ASC Career Achievement in Television Award recipient George Spiro Dibie is known for calling everyone around him "sexy." He got a huge laugh from the crowd when he accepted his trophy, saying, "This is a sexy award."

Dibie, who won five Emmys and was a longtime president of the International Cinematographers Guild, concluded with an emotional moment, dedicating his award to his wife, who died last year. "I feel her presence," he said.

The ASC Presidents Award was presented to visual effects pioneer Richard Edlund, whose credits include "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The ASC International Award was given to Walter Lassally, whose work includes "Zorba the Greek."

Annette Bening received the ASC Board of Governors Award in recognition of her artistry in front of the lens and contributions to filmmaking.

Vilmos Zsigmond presented the ASC Laszlo Kovacs Heritage Award to Andrew M. Davis of Chapman University and Sean Stiegemeier from the American Film Institute. This student award is rededicated annually to the memory of a cinematographer who has made an indelible impression on the art of filmmaking. Kovacs, whose cinematic achievements include "Easy Rider," died in July.

"Laszlo was one of the most talented cinematographers of our times," Zsigmond said. "He was also my friend and partner in life. Laszlo led the ASC outreach program to students and other young filmmakers for many years. He will never be forgotten because he was a great artist who helped so many other people's dreams come true."

On Friday, the contenders for ASC Awards received certificates during the nominees dinner, held at the ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood.