We’ve always had a thing for cinematographers. To us, they are the true rock stars of moviemaking, forever turning mundane imagery into something spectacularly visual. So consider our disappointment at the finalists in the feature film category for the 23rd annual American Society of Cinematographers awards competition. The selections are certainly respectable—Claudio Miranda for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Wally Pfister for The Dark Knight; Slumdog Millionaire‘s Anthony Dod Mantle; Chris Menges from The Reader and Roger Deakins for his lush work on Revolutionary Road—but they neglected to mention two of 2008′s best works.
While we didn’t love Milk as much as everyone else, we’re shocked that the great Harris Savides didn’t get any notice from his peers. In the Gus Van Sant film, Mr. Savides not only expertly matches many of his shots to the grainy news footage that is weaved seamlessly in-and-out through the picture, he also deftly re-creates some of the iconic shots from the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk—specifically the slow-motion walk of a triumphant Harvey Milk, his boyfriend Jack Lira and many other supporters that you’ve seen in the trailer. Mr. Savides made San Francisco in the ’70s look like we would have imagined, and the thought of him not getting an Oscar nomination this year breaks our hearts.
But the real crime is the exclusion of Declan Quinn. Say what you will about Rachel Getting Married—it’s too noisy, too shrill, too long—there was not a better-looking movie in 2008. Director Jonathan Demme and Mr. Quinn create a manic whirlwind with their handheld digital cameras; everything is wobbly, shaky and tonally perfect with what is going on. Whether it’s a quiet shot of Anne Hathaway being bathed, in a moment of sisterly love, by Rosemarie Dewitt, or a static and nervous sequence that culminates with Ms. Hathaway crashing her car, Mr. Quinn doesn’t miss a beat. (You can see glimpses of both scenes in the trailer.) We had just assumed he’d be recognized by the Oscars come the end of the year. With this snub from the ASC, we’re now significantly worried.