In the first win of the night for Roma, Alfonso Cuaron took the Oscar for Best Cinematography, becoming the first DP to score an Academy Award for a movie he also directed. Cuaron shot his own film when frequent collaborator Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki wasn’t available and tonight noted, “It’s very well known that Billy Wilder had in his office a sign that said ‘What would Lubitsch have done?’ For me it was ‘What would Chivo have done?’”
Cuaron adds this to wins from BAFTA, the National Society of Film Critics, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle and many others along the awards season trail. He is the fourth person ever to be nominated personally for four Oscars for the same film and this was his third overall win after previously scoring a Directing and Editing trophy for Gravity.
Roma, a reflection on Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico City and the women who surrounded him, is tied for the most nominations tonight. He made sure to thank his actresses and Oscar nominees Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira noting that “to create a single frame of film is very hard work” and is not done alone. He added, “If this film was created by my own memories, it was crafted through the memories great auteurs of cinematography have given to us.”
In presenting the prize to Cuaron, Tyler Perry noted it was a pleasure to do so “live on camera, not during the commercial break. Thank you, Academy.”
This is a category that almost didn’t have its day in the sun, after the Academy said its presentation would be taped during a commercial break and aired later in the broadcast. AMPAS reversed the decision after a backlash from the membership, including Cuaron who had tweeted “In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”
Cinematography had a particularly international flair this year with the other nominees including Lukasz Zal for Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War and Caleb Deschanel for Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away, as well as Matthew Libatique for A Star Is Born and Robbie Ryan for The Favourite.