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Oscar nominations 2013: Digital film makes in-roads in cinematography nods

Oscars
2013

January 10, 2013|By Chris Lee
  • Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the movie adaptation of "Anna Karenina."
Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey was nominated for an Oscar for his work… (Laurie Sparham )

Of the five men nominated for best achievement in cinematography Thursday morning, three shot their movies the old fashioned way — on 35-millimeter film stock — while the others embraced the new industry standard — digital film.

Three-time Oscar winner Bob Richardson, the go-to cinematography ace for such directors as Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone, was honored for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s lushly visual slavery-revenge-drama-cum-spaghetti-western “Django Unchained.”

“I don’t know if another nomination will come my way for the remainder of my life that will be for work I do on film,” said Richardson, who was sound asleep in Malibu when his nomination was announced. “Quentin doesn’t want to be involved with any project that isn’t film-oriented in the feature market. His love of film is so high, to have this film in particular be recognized is a great honor.”

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Richardson’s competition in the category, "Lincoln" cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and "Anna Karenina's" Seamus McGarvey also used 35 milimeter film while Claudio Miranda shot “Life of Pi” in digital 3-D and Roger Deakins of “Skyfall” relied upon digital format film.

Speaking from Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday, McGarvey sounded flabbergasted to have landed an nomination at all. He had been so dismissive of his chances, he said, that he made a $100 bet with the director of the movie he’s currently working on that he’d be passed over.

“I will hand over that hundred with relish and glee,” said McGarvey.

He applauds “Anna Karenina” director Joe Wright’s meta-narrative choice to stage the adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel as a faux theater production, enabling the cinematographer to crank up the eye candy factor on the film — resulting in a windfall of Oscar nominations including best costume design and production design.

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“This film is very different from the films I normally work on,” McGarvey said. “It was inspired by Joe’s idea to create the film in a theatrical environment and because of that, it streamlined the visuals — from the production design to the costume design to the photography. The rarefied atmosphere of the theater allowed me to be more expressive. For me, it was really a revelation.”

[Update: An earlier version of this blog post erroneously stated that "Anna Karenina" was shot on digital film.]

ALSO:

LIST: Complete list of nominees

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Join our discussion of the Academy Award nominations

chris.lee@latimes.com

Twitter: @chrislee

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