Roger Deakins is one such legend - a man who has been nominated eight times for his work as a cinematographer and come away each time empty handed. Most cinematographers are basic unknowns outside of the industry (and most probably prefer it that way) yet their work is vital in helping to establish a film's tone and atmosphere. The director may have the vision of each shot but the cinematographer has the important job of realising that vision through their recording. They are basically to the director what the director is to the screenwriter. One writes it down, the other turns it into a cinematic image and the then finally the cinematographer makes that vision come to life. Deakins is nominated this year for True Grit. Much like old school European film-makers in the veign of Jean-Luc Godard and Federico Fellini, The Coens like to maintain a number of cast members through their various pictures to create what many have referred to as a family atmosphere. After previous collaborator Barry Sonnenfeld (Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing) decided to direct his own films it meant he was no longer able to continue as the Coen's regular cinematographer and in his absence Deakins has pretty much reigned as the Coens new man ever since he began work with them on Fargo. Deakins eight previous nominations include his fine work in The Shawshank Redemption and The Man Who Wasn't There and he was was also responsible for the achingly beautiful cinematography that helps to make The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford such an unforgettable cinematic experience. One look at this train sequence from the aforementioned film shows you that the man is well and truly a master in this field: Embedding has been disabled but you can see the scene, HERE. Deakins is the favourite to take home the cinematography Oscar this year but he faces extremely tough competition from the likes of Wally Pfister (Inception), Danny Cohen (The King's Speech), Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network), and Matthew Libatique (Black Swan.) The ASC (American Society of Cinematography) awards take place on 13th February where Deakins will be competing against all of this Oscar nominated contenders. As much as I admire Roger Deakins work this is ironically the one year where I think another cinematographer may deserve it. Black Swan is an exhilarating piece of cinema largely thanks to the manner in which the film is shot helping to create a film that is at once stylistic, scary, bizarre, surreal and amusing. The cinematography in the film helps to create an almost dream-like visual world where we are absorbed into the torn mindset of the film's protagonist and I can't think of any other picture released in the last year where the images stayed with me so strongly after the initial viewing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC5EsRtlQ8I I'll be sure to keep track of this vitally important but rather underrated category as the road to the cinematography Oscar develops.