The Revenant won the top film prize at the 30th annual ASC Awards, making it a threepeat for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. The Mexico City native also won the Theatrical Motion Picture trophy for Birdman last year and for Gravity in 2014 — and went on to score Oscars for both as well. Tonight’s win gives him five ASC nods overall; he also took home the hardware for The Tree Of Life (2011) and Children Of Men (2006).
The award from the American Society of Cinematographers extends the awards momentum for The Revenant, which won five BAFTAs earlier today, including one for Lubezki. The film also has won a DGA Award for helmer Alejandro G. Iñárritu and top film prizes from the Art Directors Guild and the Visual Effects Society.
“Its a tremendous honor to be here with all of you and to be nominated amongst this incredible group,” Lubezki said from the stage. “People talk about how brutal the movie is, the conditions. From my perspective, it was an amazing experience. …. I think the most important thing was to have Alejandro — his passion, his incredibly energy. I think that’s what I’m going to remember most about the film. I share a big chunk of this award with him for taking me on this incredible journey and for being a great teacher and friend.”
The Revenant is up for a leading 12 Academy Awards including Best Picture and, of course, Best Cinematography. Although Lubezki has taken the Academy Award the past two years after ASC wins, the ASC win is no guarantee of Oscar glory: In the ASCs’ 30-year history, only 12 winners of the top theatrical prize have gone on the win on Hollywood’s Biggest Night. If he does pull it off, Lubezki would be the first cinematographer to win back-to-back-to-back Academy Awards.
Lubezki and The Revenant beat out fellow nominees Sicario (Roger Deakins), Bridge Of Spies (Janusz Kaminski), Carol (Ed Lachman) and Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale). All are up for the Oscar in two weeks except Bridge Of Spies; that Academy slot went to Robert Richardson for The Hateful Eight. Kaminski now is 0-for-6 in ASC nominations. Deakins has three wins among 14 noms.
The ASC’s TV winners continued a run of awards love for streaming services. Vanja Černjul took Episode of a Regular Series for Netflix’s Marco Polo (“The Fourth Step”) and Pierre Gill scored the Movie, Miniseries or Pilot award for the pilot of Amazon’s Casanova.
“I first met Mr. Haskell Wexler in 1991 when I was a student in his program in Budapest,” Černjul said of the legendary DP who died late last year. “I told him the film industry in my country was collapsing along with everything else. Wexler said he would help me and he did by writing me a letter of recommendation for NYU film program, which changed my life. Thanks, Mr. Wexler. I wouldn’t be here tonight without you.” Said Gill onstage: “I won an award like this in 2003 and said I hope I will shoot film till the end of my life — that didn’t happen,” Gill said. Now I won’t say any lines like this because nobody knows. … I’m still young so I won’t say anything.”
Hot off his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Visual Effects Society, Ridley Scott received the ASC’s Board of Governors Award but wasn’t in attendance to accept; presenter Geena Davis did so for him. “I present this to the only person I’ve been willing to drive off a cliff for,” the Thelma And Louise star said. “Ridley has a rich history with strong female characters, dating back to Ripley in Alien. He’s a general in command of his crew — someone with less experience would be terrified by the scale Ridley is able to absolutely thrive on.”
Scott did, however, offer a video message for the crowd — during which he credited all his DPs by name.
Other honorees tonight included Bill Bennett (Presidents Award), Lowell Peterson (Career Achievement in Television Award), Sony’s Grover Crisp (Bud Stone Award of Distinction) John Toll (Lifetime Achievement Award).
“He called me his mentor,” Ron Dexter said in presenting the award to Bennett. “I did invite all my crews to use our equipment to learn the necessary skills, but Bill went way beyond that and learned most of his movie knowhow on his own. Bill built his own computer before the Apple or PC.”
Said Peterson: “The greatest day of my career was getting the call that I had been accepted into this society of artists. I worked with the four past recipients of this award, and I think it’s probably no coincidence that all of us started at MTM, which set a new standard for television in the ’70s and ’80s.”
Said Crisp, who didn’t know he was getting the award, “Now I know how I managed to score such a great table this year!”
Toll said in accepting his award: “The work has been demanding and rewarding and at times a little crazy. I believe we couldn’t do some of what we do if we weren’t just a little crazy — and that often includes our partners.”
Straight Outta Compton DP Matty Libatique, who co-hosted the ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century City with writer-actress Delphine Figueras, noted that ASC President Richard Crudo is stepping down this year. “After hearing this news,” Libatique said, “Trump has decided to abandon his campaign and run for ASC president instead.”
Said ASC Chairman Daryn Okada in opening the show tonight: “It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since the first ASC awards ceremony,” “Back then it was a small dinner held in the clubhouse, now it’s a challenge to find a room big enough to hold all of you. Maybe this new stadium with the Rams will come in handy.”
Presenters tonight included Javier Bardem, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gina Rodriguez and Derek Waters.
Here is the complete list of tonight ASC Award winners, followed by the group’s special award winners:
Theatrical Motion Picture
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Adam Arkapaw, Macbeth
Mátyás Erdély, Son of Saul
Episode Of A Regular Series
Vanja Černjul, Marco Polo, “The Fourth Step”
Television Movie, Miniseries or Pilot
Pierre Gill, Casanova pilot
Lifetime Achievement Award
Board of Governors Award
Career Achievement in Television Award
ASC Gordon Willis Heritage Award Winners
Undergraduate: Nicolas Aguilar Ketchum, Run
Documentary: Rob W. Scribner, Warbird Pilot: Behind the Visor
Graduate: Steven Holloway, The Defeat (x3)