Roger A. Deakins has long been considered one of the best cinematographers in the world, but while he was nominated for 13 Oscars, he still had not won. That changed Sunday night when Deakins won for Achievement in Cinematography for his work on Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve.
Deakins' work faced a series of truly visually dazzling films, including the exuberant photography of The Shape of Water, the visceral IMAX work of Hoyte van Hoytema in Dunkirk and the atmospheric work of Darkest Hour. Also nominated in the category was Rachel Morrison, for the sad visual effects of the Netflix movie Mudbound. Morrison is the pioneering director of photography who was the first woman to be nominated in the category in the entire history of the Oscars.
Upon going on stage, Deakins, somewhat relieved, thanked the Academy, but immediately stressed that her work at Blade Runner 2049 was a collective effort, and that the victory was not his alone. It was won by his collaborators and his team, he said, many of whom he had been working with for decades, although he met some of them for the first time while filming the film in Budapest.
It is difficult to exaggerate how much impact Deakins' work has had over the course of his career, but turning to some of his previously nominated films may give an idea of the breadth of his work. The filmmaker has been a creative collaborator for a long time with the Coen brothers, earning nominations for Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou ?, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit. His first nomination dates back to 1994, for The Shawshank Redemption, and in later years, he has also received nominations for Skyfall, The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford and Sicario, among others. Deakins' work has been so acclaimed for so long that it had become a kind of joke that had never received an Oscar until now. Let Blade Runner, a franchise indelibly linked to impressive images, finally win Deakins his first Oscar win.