Skyfall director of photography Roger Deakins won the Feature Film honor tonight at the 27th annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards, two years after he won the society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Deakins, who didn’t attend because he is working on the Hugh Jackman-Jake Gyllenhaal movie Prisoners, now becomes a frontrunner for the Oscar in the category, American Society Of Cinematographers Awards 2013 Winnersafter Life Of Pi‘s director of photography Claudio Miranda won the BAFTA earlier in the day in London. (The ASC Awards noms pretty much mirror the Oscar nominees this year, with Deakins, Miranda, Anna Karenina’s Seamus McGarvery and Lincoln’s Janusz Kaminski nominated by both organizations. The only difference: Les Miserables’ Danny Cohen was up for an ASC Award and not an Oscar, and Django Unchained’s Robert Richardson is up for an Oscar but not an ASC.)

It was Deakins’ third win and 11th nomination for an ASC Award, having won previously for Shawshank Redemption and The Man Who Wasn’t There. His wife James accepted the award onstage at the ceremony, held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. She read a note he had prepared: “I share this award with everyone who worked on the production…filmmaking is truly a collaborative privilege.”

Deakins’ win for the James Bond pic capped a night in which Angelina Jolie made a surprise appearance to introduce the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Dean Semler, her DP on her 2011 directorial debut In The Land Of Blood And Honey and on Disney’s Maleficent, in which she stars.  “I called him up to help me on a film I was directing, not thinking I’d get him”, she said in her intro. ‘Who can shoot it like you can?’ I asked. He said me, and did it. After the call, I’m not embarrassed to say I danced around the room”. Said Semler: “Angie, you’re amazing and we’re so glad you’re here …. This award has to be the greatest any cinematographer can reach for”.

Other honorary awards were handed out to Rodney Charters, given the ASC Career Achievement in Television Award; Curtis Clark, bestowed the ASC Presidents Award; and Robby Müller, who received the ASC International Achievement Award but was unable to attend due to illness. Director Steve McQueen, who co-presented Müller’s award with Nastassja Kinski, said there is “a nobility to Robby: always search for the truth, whatever the fuck that is.”

The TV side made up three of the four ASC categories, with wins going to Wilfred‘s Bradford Lipson (Episodic Series Half Hour) for the “Truth” episode and Great Expectations‘ Florian Hoffmeister (Movie/Miniseries). It marked the first ASC noms for both, and Hoffmeister repeated his Emmy win in the category last fall. The Episodic Series One Hour category saw a tie: Balazs Bolygo for the “Mort” episode of Cinemax’s Hunted and Kramer Morgenthau for “The North Remembers” episode of HBO’s Game Of Thrones.

The ASC’s Bill Bennett took the stage to kick off the ceremony. “We’re here to celebrate the best of the best, so sit back and enjoy the show”. The evening kicks off with a video that goes from the Lumiere brothers to the Dark Knight trilogy, with some Mary Pickford, Raging Bull and David Lean in between.

Related: ASC Awards Nominations Announced

27th Annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards

Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC

Florian Hoffmeister
PBS’ Masterpiece presentation of Great Expectations

“It’s been an amazing welcome and a good way to remember why we do what we do”, said the first-time ASC nominee, who won an Emmy for the show last year.

Balazs Bolygo, HSC
Cinemax’s Hunted (“Mort”)
Kramer Morgenthau, ASC
HBO’s Game of Thrones (“The North Remembers”)

“Thanks to HBO for putting the bar so high on television…and the very inspiring material”. Morgenthau says, taking his first ASC win in his fourth nomination. Bolygo, a first-time nominee, thanked his wife “for allowing me to chase this mistress called cinema”.

Bradford Lipson
FX’s Wilfred (“Truth”)

Right off the bat, the first-time nominee and winner warned the audience that because “I’m new to this”, he might go long. He did, thanking everyone on Wilfred, his family and the ASC. But he made a point of thanking all the cinematographers he gaffered for before becoming one himself. A nice touch and, if the applause in the ballroom was an indication, well appreciated.

ASC Lifetime Achievement Award
Dean Semler, ASC, ACS
Said surprise presenter Jolie: “Every day I learned something from Dean. Dean inspires us to make the kind of work we dream of”. The crowd goes nuts at the end of Sembler’s best-of reel, coming to their feet to cheer. “Angie, you’re amazing and we’re so glad you’re here”, Semler said upon taking the stage. “This award has to be the greatest any cinematographer can reach for”.

ASC International Achievement Award
Robby Müller, NSC, BVK

Müller is sick and isn’t in attendance. Natasha Kinski (who worked with the DP on Paris, Texas) and director Steve McQueen present the honor to the lenser behind films like Repo Man, Mad Dog And Glory, 24 Hour Party People and Breaking The Waves. “Sadly Robby cannot be here due to illness,” McQueen said before a best-of reel is shown.

ASC Career Achievement in Television Award
Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC

Charters (24, Shameless, Dallas) gets the first standing ovation of the night as the New Zealand-born DP accepts his career honor. “We must salute everything Kodak and Fuji have done for our industry”, Charter said to a big reaction. “Thanks to Kiefer and the entire 24 family”, he added of the Fox series he lensed for several seasons. “I love actors and want to thank all of them for hitting their mark and finding my light”.

ASC Presidents Award
Curtis Clark, ASC

Clark gets a big response from the crowd by twice calling the move from film to digital the “most difficult transition in the history of filmmaking.” The soft-spoken head of the ASC’s Technology Committee told the ballroom he was “honored by this special award.”