Cinematographers Give Top Honor to Emmanuel Lubezki for 'The Tree of Life'

22 FEA OSCARS Tree of Life

Coming off its Palme d'Or-winning debut at the Cannes Film Festival, Terrence Malick's film has already established itself as a must-see movie. 

Emmanuel Lubezki's lensing of Fox Searchlight's The Tree of Life won the feature competition at the American Society of Cinematographers' 26th annual Outstanding Achievement Awards, held Sunday at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

He topped a feature category that was rounded out with Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist, Jeff Cronenweth for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Robert Richardson for Hugo and Hoyte van Hoytema for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

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Lubezki, along with Cronenweth, Richardson and Schiffman, is also nominated for an Academy Award. Since 2000, there have been five occasions when the ASC Award winner went on to claim the Oscar for best cinematography.

I’m so thankful and I’m so honored. I’m in the house of the great wizards,” Lubezki said after receiving the ASC Award. “I’m very happy the movie is accepted. Terry (Malick) worked for so long on the film and it is a movie that I adore and I want to share with audiences.”

Lubezki previously won an ASC Award in 2007 for Children of Men. That year, Guillermo Navarro’s lensing of Pan’s Labyrinth went on to win the Oscar.

French director of photography Schiffman attended the ASC Awards hours after his work on The Artist was recognized with the BAFTA for cinematography. He admitted “getting tears in his eyes” when he learned of the BAFTA win, adding that he never expected such a response “when you shoot a small French movie in black & white.”

He was thrilled to meet the members of the ASC, relating that at the Oscar nominees luncheon, “(Lubezki) came over to me and said he was happy to meet, and introduced me to the guys. … People are so generous. I was shaking when I first went to the ASC. They are cinematographers—for me they are like gods. I wouldn’t have missed it.”

In the television competitions, Jonathan Freeman won the prize for one-hour episodic series/pilot for his work on HBO's Boardwalk Empire;  Michael Weaver topped the category for half-hour series/pilot for Showtime's Californication; and Martin Ruhe collected the award for TV movie or miniseries for PBS' Page 8.

Also during the ceremony, Dante Spinotti received the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Michael Mann. Spinotti's credits include Mann's Public Enemies, The Insider and The Last of the Mohicans. He earned Oscar nominations for Mohicans and L.A. Confidential.

Harrsion Ford was presented the ASC Board of Governors Award; William Wages was honored with the Career Achievement in Television Award; Francis Kenny received the ASC Presidents Award; and Fred Godfrey earned the Bud Stone Award of Distinction.