The 2021 Oscars can be postponed to the end of April, but the race continues anyway. For our industry, the Oscar for “Best Camera” is the one that is followed closely. So let's get started: these are the likely competitors (and the cameras used) in the race for the 2021 Oscars.
Every year the American magazine Variety presents possible Oscar nominees and lists the most likely winners in each category. Year after year, the Best Camera Oscar is not just about which cameraman will win, but also which camera was used. The most popular brand of all? You know the answer, don't you?
Feature films for “Best Cinematography” 2021 Oscars
According to Variety, their list is still marked as preseason, so those predictions are not yet set in stone, but I think this list provides a good indication of whether a particular feature film has a good chance in the 2021 Oscars race for best camera . The top ten list is as follows:
- "Deficiency”(Netflix) // DoP: Erik Messerschmidt // Red Ranger Helium Monochrom, Leica Summilux-C lenses
- "Nomad land”(Searchlight images) // DoP: Joshua James Richards // ARRI ALEXA Mini, ARRI AMIRA, Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses
- "The midnight sky”(Netflix) // DoP: Martin Ruhe // ARRI ALEXA 65, ARRI ALEXA Mini, Hasselblad Prime DNA Lenses
- "Judas and the black messiah”(Warner Bros.) // DoP: Sean Bobbit // ARRI ALEXA Mini LF, Hasselblad DNA LF lenses
- "Since 5 Bloods”(Netflix) // DoP: Newton Thomas Sigel // ARRI ALEXA LF, ARRI ALEXA Mini, ARRIFLEX 416, Hasselblad DNA LF lenses, Angenieux Optiomo lenses, Canon 11-165 mm zoom, Zeiss Super Speed lenses
- "One night in Miami”(Amazon Studios) // DoP: Tami Reiker
- "principle”(Warner Bros.) // DoP: Hoyte van Hoytema // ARRIFLEX 765, IMAX MKIII, IMAX MKIV, IMAX MSM 9802, Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio, Panavision Sphero 65 and System 65, Hasselblad lenses
- "Minari”(A24) // DoP: Lachlan Milne // ARRI ALEXA Mini, Panvision PVintage lenses
- "News from all over the world”(Universal Pictures) // DoP: Dariusz Wolski // ARRI ALEXA LF, ARRI ALEXA Mini LF, Panavision Sphero 65 lenses
- "The Chicago Trial 7”(Netflix) // DoP: Phedon Papamichael // ARRI ALKEXA LF, Panavision C and T lenses
The full list of 30 entries can be found in Variety magazine.
Observations on the 2021 Oscars
There are some facts hidden in this list that I think are worth mentioning. First, the rise of streaming services seems unstoppable. There are four Netflix versions on this top ten list and one from Amazon Studios. This corresponds to 50% of the ten best nominees for the 2021 Oscars in the category “Best Camera”. Of course, this is at least partly due to the fact that many cinemas are closed due to the ongoing pandemic.
Second, there is only one feature film on this list that was shot with a RED camera, but admittedly it is high on the list. The vast majority of the feature films listed above were shot using ARRI camera systems. Some Panavision and IMAX systems were also used. However, other brands such as Canon or Sony (VENICE) are completely absent from this list. To be fair, Sony VENICE appears three times lower in the top 30 list. RED systems appear again.
the ARRI ALEXA LF. Photo credit: ARRI
As with previous Acadamdy Awards, the dominant camera brand is therefore ARRI. As explained in Jeff Loch's statement on whether camera technology is blinding us, he wrote that the cost of the camera package for a feature film on a large budget is practically negligible. And I think that becomes very clear in the list above. If you have the money then why would you be so crazy to experiment? Just get the most trustworthy and prestigious camera you can get and that just seems like an ARRI ALEXA.
The question is: can any of the other manufacturers come up with something that can really compete with ARRI's dominance in the high-end feature film business? At this stage I doubt it.
Which feature film will make the race for the 2021 Oscars in “Best Cinematography”? Share your thoughts in the comments below!