Daniel Mindel, cinematographer on J.J. Abrams’s upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, said in a 2013 interview with The Village Voice’s Casey Burchby: “The beauty of cinematography was that it was an amalgamation of art and science: the science of photography, or the science of postproduction, or the science of photochemical reaction with light.” For practitioners of the form, like Mindel, who’s never shot a film digitally, the choice here will be between The Grand Budapest Hotel or Ida, for how their distinctly retrograde cinematographic sense so sensually mediates our imagination of the past. But for everyone else (read: the majority of AMPAS), it will come down, as is often the case, to the film with the most cinematography: Birdman. Emmanuel Lubezki continues to push the medium from a micro to macro level, and in ways that continue to raise questions about just how the technical virtuosity of the stunt being recognized here is aided by special effects and editing. That didn’t stop him from winning an Oscar last year for Gravity, and as Birdman keeps its head mostly beneath the clouds, this is even more of a done deal.
Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Ida