As evidenced by recent colorless contenders like Good Night, and Good Luck and The White Ribbon, the Academy rarely passes up the chance to gush over black-and-white lensing. And since they’re not about to toss a bone to The Turin Horse, The Artist’s Guillaume Schiffman will surely be nominated here, an inevitability that, unlike some other impending nods, will be more about formal fundamentals than the film’s overall dominance. The cinematographer to beat, however, is most certainly Emmanuel Lubezki, whose tireless, all-consuming work in The Tree of Life has already netted him trophies from the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Broadcast Film Critics. Lubezki’s win from the latter body was shared with War Horse’s Janusz Kamiński, who, despite being dissed by the American Society of Cinematographers (they shrewdly gave his spot to Hoyte van Hoytema for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), will likely see his throwback tableaux and battles royal compete in the big race.
For Melancholia’s intoxicating prologue alone, Manuel Alberto Claro should be a natural inclusion here, likewise Mysteries of Lisbon’s André Szankowski, whose commitment to foreground interest and indoor and outdoor fluidity made for breathtaking viewing. But given its gathering storm of late-in-the-game momentum, the guild-beloved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is poised to add Best Cinematography to its list of probable noms, giving slick Fincher go-to Jeff Cronenweth his second consecutive Oscar bid. And unless voters are feeling generous in regard to the last hurrah of Harry Potter (a series they’ve never quite warmed to), the man rounding out this field should be Hugo’s Robert Richardson, whose swooping, glistening contribution to Scorsese’s past-meets-future vision is a lasting aesthetic triumph.