Oscars Predictions: Best Cinematography – Sean Bobbitt, Dariusz Wolski Among Veterans Looking for First Nominations

Clayton Davis
·8 min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

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2021 OSCARS PREDICTIONS:
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

UPDATED: Dec. 27, 2020

AWARDS COMMENTARY:
News of the World” opened over the Christmas holiday, receiving strong praise from critics and audiences. Can Dariusz Wolski finally work towards his first Oscar nomination after a long career? “Judas and the Black Messiah” is positioning itself for a strong pounce on the awards season, and Sean Bobbitt is among the top technical possibilities the film can receive. There also could be a lineup of all first-timers but Hoyte van Hoytema (“Tenet”) could be one of the previous nominees to breakthrough.

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)
    Joshua James Richards (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  2. "Mank" (Netflix)
    Erik Messerschmidt (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: David Fincher
    SYNOPSIS: 1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
    STARRING: Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Joseph Cross, Charles Dance, Monika Gossman, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Amanda Seyfried, Sam Troughton

  3. "News of the World" (Universal Pictures)
    Dariusz Wolski (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
    SYNOPSIS: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
    STARRING: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Michael Angelo Covino, Ray McKinnon

  4. "Tenet" (Warner Bros.)
    Hoyte van Hoytema (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 1 nomination (2017's "Dunkirk")

    DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
    SYNOPSIS: Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
    STARRING: John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh

  5. "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.)
    Sean Bobbitt (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Shaka King
    SYNOPSIS: The story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O'Neal.
    STARRING: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen, Dominique Thorne, Algee Smith, Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler

NEXT IN LINE:

  1. "The Midnight Sky" (Netflix)
    Martin Ruhe (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: George Clooney
    SYNOPSIS: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
    STARRING: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Tiffany Boone, Caoilinn Springall

  2. "One Night in Miami" (Amazon Studios)
    Tami Reiker (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Regina King
    SYNOPSIS: A fictional account of one incredible night in 1964, where four icons of activism, sports and music – Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke – gathered, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the ’60s.
    STARRING: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joaquina Kalukango, Nicolette Robinson

  3. "Da 5 Bloods" (Netflix)
    Newton Thomas Sigel (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Spike Lee
    SYNOPSIS: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.
    STARRING: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, Chadwick Boseman, Isiah Witlock, Jr,, Norm Lewis

  4. "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" (Netflix)
    Łukasz Żal (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Charlie Kaufman
    SYNOPSIS: Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents' secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him, and herself.
    STARRING: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, David Thewlis, Toni Collette

  5. "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Ben Smithard (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

ALSO IN CONTENTION:

  1. "The Prom" (Netflix)
    Matthew Libatique (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 2 nominations (2010's "Black Swan" and 2018's "A Star is Born")
    -
    DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy
    SYNOPSIS: A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.
    STARRING: Meryl Streep, Jo Ellen Pellman, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Ariana DeBose, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells. Tracey Ullman

  2. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)
    Tobias A. Schliessler (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    -
    DIRECTOR: George C. Wolfe
    SYNOPSIS: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play.
    STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Dusan Brown, Jonny Coyne, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, Michael Potts, Jeremy Shamos, Glynn Turman

  3. "Ammonite" (Neon)
    Stéphane Fontaine (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Francis Lee
    SYNOPSIS: 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
    STARRING: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Shaw, Gemma Jones, James McArdle

  4. "Mulan" (Disney Plus)
    Mandy Walker (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Niki Caro
    SYNOPSIS: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.
    STARRING: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Tzi Ma, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Yosan An, Rosalind Chao

  5. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)
    Phedon Papamichael (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 1 nomination (2013's "Nebraska")

    DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin
    SYNOPSIS: The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
    STARRING: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong

  6. "First Cow" (A24)
    Christopher Blauvelt (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt
    SYNOPSIS: A skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune. Soon the two collaborate on a successful business.
    STARRING: John Magaro, Orion Lee

  7. "Minari" (A24)
    Lachlan Milne (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Lee Isaac Chung
    SYNOPSIS: A Korean family moves to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s.
    STARRING:Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton

  8. "Pieces of a Woman" (Netflix)
    Benjamin Loeb (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kornél Mundruczó
    SYNOPSIS: When a young mother's home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.
    STARRING: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Molly Parker

  9. "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)
    Benjamin Kračun (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Emerald Fennell
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
    STARRING: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Max Greenfield, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson

  10. "Emma." (Focus Features)
    Christopher Blauvelt (director of photography)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Autumn de Wilde
    SYNOPSIS: In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.
    STARRING: Anya Taylor-Joy, Callum Turner, Mia Goth, Josh O'Connor, Johnny Flynn, Tanya Reynolds, Bill Nighy

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each.

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)

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