Watch 5 exclusive interviews with Best Cinematography Oscar nominees: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ ‘Bardo,’ ‘Elvis,’ ‘Empire of Light,’ ‘TÁR’
The final stretch of the 2023 Oscar season has started with voters casting their ballots for the winners of the 95th annual Academy Awards. All season long, Gold Derby has been interviewing dozens of the nominees, including all five contenders for Best Cinematography. Click on each cinematographer’s name below to watch each of these 20-minute interviews.
James Friend, “All Quiet on the Western Front”
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The German-language film “All Quiet on the Western Front” is the third adaptation of the classic anti-war novel by Erich Maria Remarque, which follows Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), an enthusiastic new soldier who quickly becomes hardened and traumatized by the realities of trench warfare. Friend describes the camerawork on the film “extremely challenging,” elaborating, “I look back and I don’t think I would have changed any element of it, but it was by far the most challenging project of my career to date.” His camerawork in the film is kinetic and stays nerve-rattlingly close to the action to “move the audience through the space as if you were a soldier and one of the band of brothers on the battlefield.”
Darius Khondji, “Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Bardo” tells the story of an acclaimed journalist-turned-documentarian named Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho), who goes on an introspective journey to reconcile with the past, the present, and his Mexican identity. Khondji reveals that the screenplay “was one of the most exciting scripts I’ve ever read,” and details some of the challenges of shooting the complex film, including one sequence that featured over 800 extras and required a new steady-cam: “It allows you to bring the camera from the floor to high up, way above the head. It was very difficult because we were shooting with a VistaVision camera, like 70 millimeter, so it’s bigger, it’s heavier.”
Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the iconic musician stars Austin Butler in the title role and follows him from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s to his death in 1977; “Elvis” reunited Walker with Luhrmann, as the two have collaborated many times over the past two decades. On her approach to capturing all of these different periods on film, she shares, “I made two different lenses for the movie. The first set of lenses was more spherical and flatter, and more representative of still photography. Once he gets to Vegas we shot anamorphic. I had lenses made that had all the old, early 70s aberrations put back into them because modern anamorphic lenses have a cleaner style and a cleaner finish.”
Roger Deakins, “Empire of Light”
Deakins has collaborated with “Empire of Light” writer-director Sam Mendes on many occasions. He was surprised that this tale of a movie theatre manager (Olivia Colman) living in a seaside town in England who struggles with mental illness would be their follow-up to the war epic “1917.” The director of photography talks about his preparation for the film, sharing, “You talk through the script, you figure out locations, you have to work to a budget and a schedule… And then you talk about scenes, you talk about maybe staging it in such and such a way, but until you’ve got the actors on the set, you can’t really lock anything down.”
Todd Field’s latest film tells the fictional story of the triumphant rise and stunning fall of Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), considered one of the world’s greatest classical composer-conductors, whose career is threatened by allegations of misconduct. Hoffmeister calls the director “very meticulous” and divulges details of their creative discussions around a scene set at Juilliard, which was shot in a single take: “We had discussions about not moving the camera, finding these angles that would be immersive but also serve the piece and space. Every little rule that you have in your cinematography playbook, like go for depth, we basically ignored to get there.”
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