Thursday, October 27, 2016
  • Monday, Feb. 15, 2016
Emmanuel Lubezki Wins ASC Award For "The Revenant"
Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki
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For the third consecutive year, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, ASC, AMC, has won the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film. This time around, he earned the award on the basis of The Revenant (Twentieth Century Fox). Last year, he won for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and in 2014 he was honored for Gravity.

For both Birdman and Gravity, Lubezki went on to win the Best Cinematography Oscar. Whether The Revenant will give him an Oscar “three-peat” remains to be seen. Lubezki now has a total of five career ASC Award wins--but his first two honors for Children of Men (2007) and The Tree of Life (2012) did not translate into Best Cinematography Academy Awards.

In his acceptance remarks last night (2/14) capping the 30th annual ASC Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Lubezki said that The Revenant director Alejandro G. Iñárritu deserves “a big chunk” of the ASC Award, citing the helmer’s “passion” and “incredible energy” in bringing the film and its story to fruition. Lubezki described Iñárritu, who also directed Birdman, as “a great teacher” and “a great friend.”

Lubezki’s work on The Revenant topped a strong field of ASC nominees, the others being: Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for Sicario; Jaunusz Kaminski for Bridge of Spies; Ed Lachman, ASC for Carol; and John Seale, ASC, ACS for Mad Max: Fury Road. All but Kaminski are in the running for the Academy Award. Robert Richardson, ASC, is the remaining Best Cinematography Oscar nominee for The Hateful Eight.

Spotlight Award
For the third straight year, the ASC bestowed its Spotlight Award, which is designed to recognize standout cinematography in features and documentaries that are typically screened at film festivals, internationally or in limited theatrical release. There was a tie for the Spotlight honor between: Adam Arkapaw for director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth (Studio Canal, The Weinstein Company) and Matyas Erdely, HSC, for director Laszlo Nemes’ Son of Saul (Sony Pictures Classics).

Arkapaw did not attend the ASC ceremony but Erdely was on hand to accept his Spotlight Award. Erdely noted that Son of Saul was shot on film because it provides “the most immersive experience the viewer can get.” In that vein, the DP affirmed that it is cinematographers’ responsibility to keep the photochemical film medium “alive as an option not just for us but for future generations as well.”

Vanja Cernjul, ASC, HFS, won his first ASC Award on the strength of his second career nomination, which was for “The Fourth Step” episode of Marco Polo (Netflix). Cernjul topped the Episode of a Regular Series category.

Pierre Gil, CSC, took honors in the TV Movie, Miniseries or Pilot category for Casanova (Amazon). This series pilot marked Gil’s second career win, the first coming in 2004 for Hitler: The Rise of Evil. Gil also received ASC nominations for Joan of Arc in 2000 and The Borgias in 2014.

Special honors
In terms of previously announced recipients of special awards, the headliners were: director Ridley Scott who won the Board of Governors Award; Bill Bennett who was honored with the Presidents Award; Lowell Peterson, ASC, who copped the Career Achievement in Television Award; and John Toll, ASC, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Toll has been nominated for the ASC Award five times in the feature film category, winning twice--for his lensing of Braveheart in 1996 and The Thin Red Line in 1999. He also is a three-time Best Cinematography Oscar nominee, winning for Legends of the Fall in 1995 and Braveheart a year later. Presenting Toll with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award was his wife, Lois Burwell, an Oscar-winning (Braveheart) makeup artist. Burwell said she was honored to give the award to “her valentine” on Valentine’s Day. Burwell won the Academy Award for Braveheart, the film where she met Toll and the two fell in love.

Peterson received the Career Achievement in TV honor, recalling that he got his big break with a promotion to DP on season 14 of the primetime series Knots Landing. His credits over the years include Six Feet Under, Desperate Housewives, Lois & Clark and the telefilm Just Ask My Children (for which he received an ASC Award nomination). Presenting him with the Career Achievement Award was Gina Rodriguez, star of Jane the Virgin, the CW Network series which is lensed by Peterson.

Bennett was presented with the Presidents Award from his mentor, Ron Dexter, ASC. Bennett is well known for his work in commercials, especially car ads. He got his start in the mid-1970s working with director/DP Dexter, initially with the venerable Wakeford/Orloff and then The DXTRS commercial production house.  Bennett credited Dexter with not just teaching him about the art, craft and technique of cinematography but also “how to work with people around you to achieve the best result.” Bennett thanked the many directors he worked with over the years and noted that sitting at his ASC table was one of those spotmakers, Gary Johns.  Like Dexter, Bennett serves as a mentor to aspiring as well as now established DPs.

Scott accepted The Board of Governors Award via a video recorded message, thanking various cinematographers he worked with over the years including the late Jordan Cronenweth, ASC, and Harris Savides, ASC, as well as Steven Poster, ASC, and Darius Wolski, ASC. Wolski has lensed Scott’s most recent films, including Prometheus, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and The Martian. Scott could not attend the ASC ceremony because he was in Australia embarking on the feature Alien: Covenant (which too is being shot by Wolski). Presenting the award to Scott was actress Geena Davis who starred in the director’s Thelma and Louise.

Bud Stone Award
Unlike the evening’s other special awards, it was not announced before hand who would receive the ASC Bud Stone Award of Distinction. Named after the late president of Deluxe--Burton “Bud” Stone--who helped and mentored assorted artisans, this honor goes to an associate ASC member who has demonstrated extraordinary service to the ASC and has made a significant contribution to the motion picture industry.

This year’s winner of the Bud Stone Award was Grover Crisp, EVP Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering at Sony Pictures Entertainment. Presenting him with the honor was ASC president Richard Crudo.

Wexler, Zsigmond
Two legendary cinematographers who recently passed away were given ASC recognition in the form of their names being attached to awards designed to help nurture and groom new talent. Each year the Heritage Awards recognizing student achievements is named after an iconic cinematographer. The 2016 Heritage honors will be named after the late, great Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC.

And the Student Documentary Award will carry the moniker of the late Haskell Wexler, ASC.