25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees

05 Feb 2020 (PT)
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Oscar season conversations are most often dominated by the movies, directors, and actors viewers most loved, but it's important to note that nearly all of this year's nominated features are on common ground when it comes to featuring remarkable visuals. From veteran auteurs like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino to rising stars such as Greta Gerwig and Robert Eggers, this year's Oscar nominees are chock full of arresting shots courtesy of some of the best cinematographers working today, from Hoyte van Hoytema “Ad Astra” to Robbie Ryan “Marriage Story”, Phedon Papamichael “Ford v Ferrari”, and Roger Deakins “1917”.

With the 92nd Academy Awards days away, IndieWire takes a look at this year's nominated films through the most stunning shots that define them. Check out some of our favorite shots form this year's nominated films in the list below.

Photo : Fox Searchlight

“Jojo Rabbit”

There are no shortage of memorable images in “Jojo Rabbit” thanks to filmmaker Taika Waititi and cinematographer Mihai Mălaimare Jr. The film's palette often recalls Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom” especially in the film's first act, but Waititi is able to stay original through his striking framings. Just look how the stairs here provide an apt visual metaphor for the uphill battle Rosie Scarlett Johansson and Jojo Roman Griffin Davis face as their views clash against those of Nazi Germany.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony Pictures

“1917”

“1917” marks a reunion between Sam Mendes and famed cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose titles together include “Jarhead” and “Skyfall.” Easily the most impressive sequence of the simulated one-shot war drama takes place at night amidst a burning village. Deakins' knack for capturing the haunting beauty of silhouettes is at its most jaw-dropping here as shadows blur the line between ally and enemy.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony Pictures

“1917”

Deakins is nominated for his 15th Best Cinematography Oscar and is widely considered the frontrunner to win the Academy Awards this year. A victory would give Deakins his second Oscar. Deakins won his first for his work on Denis Villeneuve's “Blade Runner 2049.” What's most impressive with Deakins' work in “1917” is how he's able to maintain his pristine sense of compositions while also keeping the camera moving and the illusion of the one-take alive. Moments when the camera stops for a shot like the one above, it's impossible not to marvel at the precision of Deakins' work.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony Pictures

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

With “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” DP Robert Richardson earned his fourth Best Cinematography Oscar nomination for filming a Quentin Tarantino movie after “Inglourious Basterds,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.” Richardson's work wows in a series of shots that depict various neon signs lighting up Hollywood including this one of the famous Cinerama Dome. These shots express the reverence and admiration Tarantino has for the Hollywood of yesteryear in a way words never could.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony Pictures

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

If “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is remembered for any one shot in particular, it's no doubt this one of Brad Pitt's stuntman Cliff Booth taking off his shirt and bathing in the warm glow of sunlight. Richardson has openly admitted it's perhaps the most homoerotic shot in all of Tarantino's filmography, and it's the kind of image that solidifies Brad Pitt as one of Hollywood's last true movie stars.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Warner Bros.

“Joker”

“Joker” DP Lawrence Sher is nominated for his first Best Cinematography Oscar thanks to his work filming Todd Phillips' revisionist comic book drama. The way Sher brings a grey seediness to Phillips' Gotham City appropriately drew comparisons to the gritty atmosphere of Martin Scorsese's “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver,” but watch how Sher makes the visuals of the film pop with color the more Arthur Fleck Joaquin Phoenix comes into his own as Joker. One of the film's most colorfully striking images occurs as Arthur waits behind the curtain of “The Murray Franklin Show.” The time has come for Arthur to introduce Joker to the world, and it's perhaps the most colorful the film ever looks.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Warner Bros.

“Joker”

Sher, Phillips, Phoenix, and “Joker” composer Hildur Guðnadóttir have all earned acclaim for the film's signature bathroom sequence, in which Arthur performs a chilling dance in front of a mirror after committing his first murder. The menacing power of Sher's work here is in how his handheld camera aligns with Arthur's movements and caress his body as it contorts into a spontaneous dance.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Neon

“Parasite”

Bong Joon Ho and cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo play around with matching shots to great effect throughout much of “Parasite,” a six-time nominee at the Oscars this year. The first time we see this shot it's in a flashback sequence in which Mrs. Park Cho Yeo-jeong is explaining how her son was traumatized as a small child after seeing a ghost emerging from the basement. The shot is of the house and the house alone. It isn't until the film reveals a family has been living in the Park family basement that Bong returns to the exact shot and adds the human head of Geun-sae Park Myung-hoon emerging. The shot is one of the film's most surprising and thematically stimulating, as it's the moment when what was once considered an illusion becomes real. The monster the child feared does exist. But is it even a monster? Who are the real monsters of “Parasite”? These aren't easy questions to answer, and that's the magic trick of Bong's creation.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Neon

“Parasite”

“Parasite” marked the latest collaboration between Bong Joon Ho and cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo after “Snowpiercer” and “Mother.” Hong's other credits include popular South Korean dramas “The Wailing” and “Burning.” This shot of the Kim family fully inhabiting the Park family home juxtaposes similar shots from the start of the film of the Kim family in their own home. Bong and Hong create a larger space within the wehy setting more negative space above the characters' heads, the massive window is a screen in which a desired lifestyle is projected that contrasts the claustrophobic interiors of the Kim's home.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Netflix

“The Irishman”

“The Irishman” DP Rodrigo Prieto earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography thanks to his work shooting Martin Scorsese's crime epic, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. The nomination is one of 10 categories “The Irishman” is competing in at the 92nd Academy. Scorsese and Prieto end their three-and-a-half hour movie with an emotional gut punch of a shot: Frank Sheeran Robert De Niro drowning in an isolation of his own doing.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony Pictures Classics

“Pain and Glory”

The final shot of Pedro Almodovar's “Pain and Glory” depicts Jacinta Penélope Cruz and young Salvador Asier Flores sleeping as the camera pulls back to reveal a movie set being directed by the older Salvador Antonios Banderas. The last shot recontextualizes Almodovar's entire movie in breathtaking fashion. Suddenly the flashback sequences in the film become subjective entry points, as they are Salvador's artistic rendering of his own childhood. Things become more meta when you factor in that's just what Almodovar is doing with his own personal and professional career in “Pain and Glory” itself.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Netflix

“Marriage Story”

For “Marriage Story,” writer-director Noah Baumbach reunited with his “Meyerowitz Stories” cinematographer Robbie Ryan, also known for his work on “The Favourite” and several Andrea Arnold films including “American Honey”. This shot from just before an explosive fight between Charlie Adam Driver and Nicole Scarlett Johansson is one of the drama's most painful visual metaphors. The way Ryan uses vertical and horizontal space to overpower the characters as individuals and a couple is key to visualizing their internal conflicts.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony

“Little Women”

One of the best creative choices “Little Women” writer-director Greta Gerwig made for her adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel was hiring French cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, best known for shooting the films of Olivier Assayas “Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Personal Shopper” and Luca Guadagnino “I Am Love,” “A Bigger Splash”. There's both a grounded immediacy and painterly beauty to Yorick's compositions. Some of the film's best shots like the one above and below centralize the loving bonds between the characters, putting them at the center of the frame and surrounding them by limitless landscapes. In these shots it feels as if the connection between the characters is all that matters in the world, which is just how Gerwig wants it.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Sony Pictures

“Little Women”

One of Gerwig and Yorick Le Saux's missions was to make “Little Women” feel as authentic as possible, which meant shooting the project on location in Massachusetts where Alcott and her three sisters grew up. Some settings were ripped from Alcott's real life, such as the schoolhouse where the author's father taught. The two also turned to paintings from the era to help the cinematographer shape the look of the film. One artwork, an 1870 painting called “High Tide” by Winslow Homer, was a key inspiration.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Disney/Fox

“Ford v Ferrari”

James Mangold's “Ford v Ferrari” was shot by cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, who earned a nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers. Papamichael was previously nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar with Alexander Payne's “Nebraska.” The control Papamichael demonstrates in filming the many “Ford v Ferrari” racing scenes earned widespread acclaim from craftspeople throughout the industry. Giving such high octane action a sense of clarity sets “Ford v Ferrari” apart from other racing dramas.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Netflix

“The Two Popes”

“The Two Popes” marks the fourth collaboration between director Fernando Meirelles and cinematographer César Charlone after “City of God,” “The Constant Gardener,” and “Blindness.” Charlone was Oscar-nominated for “City of God.” The DP's biggest strength in “The Two Popes” is utilizing space to make conversations between Pope Francis Jonathan Pryce and Pope Benedict XVI Anthony Hopkins all the more involving. The way the space opens up around Pope Francis when he enters the Sistine Chapel takes the film to its most visually free look, an expression of overwhelming emotion that connects the viewer to Pryce's Francis.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Netflix

“I Lost My Body”

Jérémy Clapin's French animated drama “I Lost My Body” is a dark horse in this year's Best Animated Feature race. The film boasts a hand-drawn look that sets it apart from the animated CGI behemoths “Toy Story 4” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” The film follows a severed hand as it attempts to find its way back to its human body. Black-and-white sequences flash back to when the main character had his hand in place, but several shots disassociate the hands from the body through the composition of the image.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Lionsgate

“Knives Out”

There's nothing particularly noteworthy about the visual palette of “Knives Out,” but director Rian Johnson and cinematographer Steve Yedlin excel at creating shots that tell you everything you need to know about the characters at the center of this twisty murder mystery. Daniel Craig's detective Benoit Blanc is introduced in inventive fashion by being the one disruption in an otherwise perfectly balanced and symmetrical shot, an apt foreshadowing for the order he's about to disrupt within the Thrombey family.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Disney

“Toy Story 4”

Cinematography can often be overlooked in animated features, but Patrick Lin and Jean-Claude Kalache deserve kudos for their visually arresting work filming “Toy Story 4.” One of the film's most emotional images is this wide shot of Woody and Bo Peep sharing a tender moment underneath a car during a rain storm. The way the toys' silhouettes pop against the environment around them is as Deakins-esque as animated features get.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : A24

“The Lighthouse”

Easily one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 Oscar nominations is “The Lighthouse” DP Jarin Blaschke for Best Cinematography. The movie marked the second pairing between Blaschke and director Robert Eggers after “The Witch.” The two decided to shoot “The Lighthouse” on black and white 35mm film using a 1.19:1 aspect ratio. The result is some of the year's most startling cinematography. In this shot, the spiraling staircase of the eponymous structure is framed like a tentacle wrapping around the main characters as they scream in drunken agony. It's the perfect shot to tease the film's ending.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : A24

“The Lighthouse”

Eggers and Blaschke work overdrive in “The Lighthouse” to increase the characters' feelings of isolation and claustrophobia. Early on, as Ephraim Robert Pattinson arrives at the lighthouse, his instant loneliness is visualized in shots like the one above, which visually splits the room Ephraim shares with Willem Dafoe's character into two distinct halves.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” may have been critically panned, but it did feature some strong visuals thanks to director J.J. Abrams and cinematographer Dan Mindel. Many of the shots during a high stakes lightsaber battle between Rey Daisy Ridley and Kylo Ren Adam Driver are jaw-droppingly operatic in the way the fight choreography ebbs and flows with the crashing waves surrounding the characters. “Rise of Skywalker” is nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Disney/Fox

“Ad Astra”

In a perfect world “Ad Astra” would have earned Hoyte van Hoytema an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography, and yet the film only walked away with a nomination for Best Sound Mixing. The nomination was a welcome surprise, as “Ad Astra” was tracking to be shut out completely from the Oscar race this year. Hoytema's work with James Gray is a standout throughout the film, often turning the protagonist Roy McBride Brad Pitt into a fading memory amidst the awe and wonder of the cosmos.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Disney/Fox

“Ad Astra”

“Ad Astra” marked Hoyte van Hoytema's return to a space drama after filming Christopher Nolan's “Interstellar,” which earned the DP a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Cinematography. Hoytema's sole Oscar nomination to date remains Nolan's “Dunkirk.” Next up for the beloved cinematographer is Nolan's “Tenet,” opening July from Warner Bros.

25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
Photo : Hulu

“Honeyland”

Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov's “Honeyland” is the rare non-fiction film to land two Oscar nominations: Best Documentary and Best International Feature Film. Anyone who has watched the documentary knows it wouldn't have been a stretch for “Honeyland” to a earn a third Oscar nom for Best Cinematography. The visuals in this film are remarkable, framing the protagonist Hatidze Muratova within her environment to make her one with the land around her.

Source: Indiewire

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Weekend of September 25 - 27, 2020 (IMDb)
Tenet
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Tenet
Net: $3.4M Grs: $41.2M
Weeks: 4
The New Mutants
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The New Mutants
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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
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Infidel
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The Broken Hearts Gallery
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Shortcut
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The Last Shift
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The Last Shift
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Kajillionaire
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25 Stunning Shots From the 2020 Oscar Nominees
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