1917 was the top winner tonight at the 34th annual ASC Awards, as Roger Deakins took home the marquee Theatrical Release trophy from the American Society of Cinematographers. Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, History’s Project Blue Book and AMC’s The Terror: Infamy took the top TV awards during the ceremony at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.
Sam Mendes’ WWI film continued its steady award-season run, besting fellow nominees Ford v Ferrari (Phedon Papamichael), The Irishman (Rodrigo Prieto), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Robert Richardson) and Joker (Lawrence Sher). This was Deakins’ fifth ASC win and 16th nomination. He also was awarded the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Across town at about the same time Saturday, 1917 and director Sam Mendes won the top DGA Award, making both men the front-runners for the Oscars.
At the ASC Awards, Deakins took the stage with his wife Isabella Ellis, whom he joked was “standing in for the rest of the crew; we work together, we live together, she should be here,” he said. He told stories of working with Mendes on the 2005 movie Jarhead, when Mendes told him: “I don’t want to rehearse anything, let’s shoot handheld…four films later, Sam said he wanted to do a film that was one take. (Actually) he didn’t tell me, it was on the front of the script.” Deakins said intensive rehearsal went into that process. And although there was plenty of technical wizardry to 1917, Deakins said good movie making is “not about the technology,” it’s about the people.
The ASC’s top film award isn’t necessarily an Academy Awards precursor, however, as only 14 of its previous 33 winners went on to Oscar glory. They have matched up in four of the past six years, though. Last year’s top ASC winner Cold War lost the Oscar to Roma.
Calling it a “golden age for documentaries,” Joker director-producer Todd Phillips presented the ASC’s first documentary award to Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma for Honeyland.
Earlier in the evening, Colin Watkinson won the best episode of a series for non-commercial television for the “Night” episode of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale; John Conroy won the TV motion picture, miniseries, pilot award for the “A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest” episode of AMC’s The Terror: Infamy; and Kim Miles took home the trophy for “The Flatwoods Monster” episode of History’s Project Blue Book.
The evening was hosted again tonight by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, who joked in his opening that he prefers the ASC Awards to the Oscars because “there’s an open bar, no commercial breaks and we don’t have to sit through a musical tribute to 1917 where all the soldiers are dressed like cats.” President Trump did not escape Mankiewicz’s opening: Mankiewicz described 1917 as a movie that captures WWI in a single shot at a time when we are experiencing WWIII through a single Trump tweet.”
Werner Herzog received the ASC’s Board of Governors Award, which is given to industry stalwarts whose body of work has made significant and indelible contributions to cinema. Herzog dedicated his award to all the cinematographers he has worked with: “I wish I had a whole bucketful of these, they belong to those who are wearing my eyes, my cinematographers…those who transform a vision onto screen…And transform it into something mysterious, something elevated.”
Frederick Elmes received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Donald A. Morgan was honored with the Career Achievement in Television Award, Bruno Delbonnel received the International Award, and Don McCuaig was the recipient of the Presidents Award.
Here are the winners for the 34th annual ASC Awards:
EPISODE OF A SERIES FOR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION
The Handmaid’s Tale, “Night” (Hulu)
The Lighthouse (A24)
MOTION PICTURE, MINISERIES OR PILOT MADE FOR TELEVISION
The Terror: Infamy, “A Sparrow in a Swallow’s Nest” (AMC)
EPISODE OF A SERIES FOR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION
Project Blue Book, “The Flatwoods Monster” (History)
Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma
BOARD OF GOVERNORS AWARD
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT IN TELEVISION AWARD
Donald A. Morgan
BUD STONE AWARD
Kim Snyder, CEO, Panavision
HONORARY ASC AWARD
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