The ASC Awards were held in the ballroom of the soon-to-be closed and renovated Century Plaza Hotel on February 14.
Once again, Matty Libatique, ASC and Delphine Figueras proved to be the best hosts of the awards season. I look forward to them taking on the Oscars as well.
High points were the President’s Award for Bill Bennett, ASC, introduced by Ron Dexter, ASC — a mentor to both of us and many others.
Bill’s acceptance speech remembered, “Not everything Ron taught me was specifically about cinematography. Sometimes the best lessons were how to work with the people around you to achieve the best result. In the TV commercial business, the ad-agency people can sometimes be quite angst-ridden — and overly controlling about the details of the process. If we were shooting in the countryside, Ron would bring along some fake, dime-store arrowheads — in his pocket, which had a hole in it. If the agency folks were getting too anxious, he would drop one down his pants leg, then ‘discover it,’ all the while making up some elaborate story about the history of the Indian tribe that lived on that land centuries ago. Within minutes, all the agency people would be combing the hills around us, looking for Indian artifacts and leaving Ron to do his work. Later on they would come back, complaining that they couldn’t find anything. He would quietly drop another arrow, saying, ‘You just need to know where to look. See? There’s one right there!’ On the last day, he would finally take pity on them and seed several arrowheads for them to find. I’m sure they are proudly displayed on mantels in New York, St. Louis, and Detroit — along with the story of the ancient Indian tribe that made them. As Ron taught me, it’s not just about the cinematography, but also figuring out how to best “get the shot in the can.”
ASC Lifetime Award was given to John Toll, ASC. He was introduced with the best speech of the evening, by his wife, Oscar-winning (“Braveheart”) makeup artist Lois Burwell. In fact, they met on “Braveheart” and John also won an Oscar for Best Cinematography on that film. Lois described the rather grumpy cinematographer behind the camera. “I didn’t like the look of him,” she said of the man who was to become her husband and winner of this year’s award. There was something about bar room brawls and other tales of adventure on many locations.
In his acceptance speech, John said, “The work has been demanding, sometimes rewarding, quite often a lot of fun — and at times, a little crazy. I think when we’re trying to be polite about it we say passionate, or creative, but I believe we wouldn’t do some of what we do if we weren’t just a little crazy. And this often includes our partners. Lois is a great make-up artist. She’s a filmmaker. She helps define, and often create, the characters in our stories. She appears to be a very charming, stable, well-adjusted person — but we all love a surprise! Some of us have been doing this for 40 years or more, but we keep coming back. I’m doing a job this year that shoots in 13 different countries, on every continent except Antarctica! That’s a little crazy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Here’s a list of nominees and winners. Although, as Roberto Schaeffer so eloquently put it, they are all winners.
ASC Awards — by Sally Christgau
LOS ANGELES, (February 14, 2016) – Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC; Vanja Cernjul, ASC, HFS; Pierre Gill, CSC; Adam Arkapaw, ACS; and Mátyás Erdély, HSC earned top honors in the four competitive categories at the 30th Annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards for Outstanding Achievement. The ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Lubezki won for the feature THE REVENANT. Cernjul won the episodic television category for CASANOVA, and Gill took the honors in the TV movie/miniseries/pilot category for MARCO POLO. There was a tie for the ASC Spotlight Award between Arkapaw for MACBETH and Erdély for SON OF SAUL.
Javier Bardem presented the ASC Award in the theatrical release category to Lubezki. Lubezki also won the award the past two years for BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) in 2015 and for GRAVITY in 2014. This marks the first time that a cinematographer has won three consecutive ASC Awards in the theatrical category, and makes Lubezki the only cinematographer to claim this prize five times. He won ASC Awards in 2012 for THE TREE OF LIFE and in 2007 for CHILDREN OF MEN. Lubezki earned another nomination in this category in 2000 for SLEEPY HOLLOW.
The other nominees in the feature film category were Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for SICARIO, Janusz Kaminski for BRIDGE OF SPIES, Ed Lachman, ASC for CAROL, and John Seale, ASC, ACS for MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
Derek Waters presented Vanja Cernjul with the award for a regular episode of a TV series, for “The Fourth Step” episode of the Netflix series MARCO POLO.
Other nominees in the episodic category were David Greene, CSC for Syfy’s 12 MONKEYS (“Mentally Divergent”), Christopher Norr for FOX’s GOTHAM (“Strike Force”), Crescenzo Notarile, ASC, AIC for GOTHAM (“Scarification”), and Fabian Wagner, BSC for HBO’s GAME OF THRONES (“Hardhome”).
Jamie Lee Curtis presented the television movie/miniseries/pilot award to Pierre Gill for the CASANOVA pilot (Amazon).
Also nominated in the category were Martin Ahlgren for the BLINDSPOT pilot (NBC), James Hawkinson for THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE pilot (Amazon), Jeffrey Jur, ASC for BESSIE (HBO), and Romain Lacourbas for the MARCO POLO pilot (Netflix).
Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC announced that Arkapaw and Erdély tied for the ASC Spotlight Award. Arkapaw won for MACBETH and Erdély won for SON OF SAUL. Also nominated in this category was Cary Joji Fukunaga for BEASTS OF NO NATION.
Oscar-winner Lois Burwell presented the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award to her husband John Toll, ASC. Toll won back-to-back Oscars for his work on Edward Zwick’s LEGENDS OF THE FALL in 1995, and Mel Gibson’s BRAVEHEART in 1996. His credits include THE RAINMAKER, ALMOST FAMOUS, VANILLA SKY, GONE BABY GONE, TROPIC THUNDER, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, CLOUD ATLAS, IRON MAN 3, and the upcoming Ang Lee film BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, among others. His feature work has also earned him two ASC Awards (BRAVEHEART, THE THIN RED LINE) .
Lowell Peterson, ASC took home the Career Achievement in Television Award, which was presented by Gina Rodriguez. He is EMMY-nominated for his work on HBO’s SIX FEET UNDER, and earned ASC Award nominations for the telefilm JUST ASK MY CHILDREN, and the TV series SECOND CHANCES and PROFILER. Peterson’s credits include JANE THE VIRGIN, THE FOSTERS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, MOLONEY, LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, THE CLIENT, and KNOTS LANDING, and among others.
Director Ridley Scott was recognized with the Board of Governors Award, presented by Academy Award-winner Geena Davis. Scott got Best Director Oscar nominations for BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001), GLADIATOR (2000) and THELMA & LOUISE (1991). Scott’s most recent releases include THE MARTIAN, EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, THE COUNSELOR, and PROMETHEUS.
Bill Bennett, ASC was recognized with the ASC Presidents Award for his cinematographic contributions and dedication to the ASC. The award was preseneted by his mentor, Ron Dexter, ASC. Bennett has more than 1,000 television commercial credits. Known affectionately by his peers as “The Car Guy” for his innovative work on automobile spots, his list of credits not only include the big automobile manufacturers, but also a number of top beverage manufacturers, global communications companies, airlines, and food companies.
The ASC Bud Stone Award of Distinction was given to Grover Crisp, EVP of asset management, film restoration and digital mastering at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The award is presented to an Associate ASC Member who has demonstrated extraordinary service to the society and/or has made a significant contribution to the motion picture industry.
Visit the ASC website at www.theasc.com.
Following photos courtesy of The ASC: