2020 Oscar Category Breakdown: Best Cinematography

Today is Best Cinematography, a category that was not overly straightforward when trying to guess the nominees, but one I am very pleased about because I managed to guess all five nominees. There aren’t many things related to the Oscars and guessing stuff that make me legitimately happy, but being able to guess nominees 5/5 in a category that’s not so obvious going in is definitely one of them.

This isn’t the usual flashiness we tend to get in this category, but all five are a real solid set of nominees. ASC, the cinematographers guild, doesn’t actually announce a winner until tomorrow night, but even so, I think we’ve got enough evidence to be pretty certain how this one’s gonna go.

Best Cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah


News of the World


The Trial of the Chicago 7

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 — This is the most ‘traditional’ of the nominees, and this category generally isn’t about quiet quality. They tend to like flash and outdoor stuff. Big expansive wide shots or black-and-white. This isn’t that. And without any precursors I can’t imagine this is anything other than a fifth choice.

4. Judas and the Black Messiah — I think the ’70s’ feel of the film will help get it a few votes, but I’m not sure this truly contends here. It’s hard to make a case for it higher than third at best without any precursor wins to this point.

3. News of the World — It’s a western and, while not overly flashy, does have the kind of thing most people would associate with their narrow voting view of cinematography. Though, this being the least feted film on this list, you could make the case that it’s fifth choice. But again, without any precursor wins, I’m not sure it really matters.

2. Mank — They love black-and-white and I suspect that alone will be enough to get this to top two. ASC still has to announce, so it’s possible this (or anything below this) could win there and I could shuffle stuff around. But no matter how ASC goes, nothing’s gonna overtake first place going into the ceremony, regardless of what you think you’re gonna vote for. So it’s all irrelevant.

1. Nomadland — This won BAFTA and BFCA so far and looks poised to probably win ASC too. Though maybe not. Either way, this is gonna be your favorite to win the category almost regardless of what ASC does (especially since ASC has voted against the clear Oscar favorite a couple of times this past decade).

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