'Inception' Surprise, Julia Roberts: American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards

Inception Movie Wally Pfister cinematography Joseph Gordon-Levitt'Inception' movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Cinematography by Wally Pfister.

'Inception' cinematographer Wally Pfister, Julia Roberts take home American Society of Cinematographers Awards

Inception cinematographer Wally Pfister – not, as many had been expecting, True Grit lenser Roger Deakins – was the feature film winner at the 2011 American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards held on Sunday night (Feb. 13) at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom in Los Angeles.

“Presenter Diane Lane was def. surprised by Pfister's ASC win,” tweeted TheWrap's Steve Pond. “I think she figured there was a reason ([husband] Josh Brolin/True Grit) they chose her.”

Roger Deakins: ASC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

Roger Deakins had won a BAFTA earlier in the day (evening in London), and shortly before Wally Pfister was announced as the year's ASC Award winner Deakins had been handed the Society's Lifetime Achievement Award. Among the veteran cinematographer's credits are:

It's unclear whether Deakins will repeat his BAFTA feat or if Pfister will repeat his ASC feat at the Academy Awards.

Roger Deakins has been nominated for nine Oscars (including True Grit); he has never taken home a statuette. Deakins has fared better at the ASC Awards, having won two of these:

  • Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
  • Joel and Ethan Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).

Inception is Wally Pfister's fourth Oscar nod.

More ASC Awards

Besides Inception's Wally Pfister and True Grit's Roger Deakins, this year's ASC Award nominees in the feature film category were:

Among the evening's other ASC Award winners were:

  • Stephen Windon for the television miniseries The Pacific.
  • International Award recipient John Seale.
  • Presidents Award recipient Douglas Kirkland.
  • Board of Governors Award recipient Julia Roberts.

More on Julia Roberts' ASC Award below.

Julia Roberts Eat Pray Love ASC Board of Governors AwardJulia Roberts in 'Eat Pray Love': ASC Board of Governors Award

Julia Roberts: ASC Board of Governors Award recipient

At the 2011 American Society of Cinematographers Awards ceremony, Best Actress Academy Award winner Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) was handed the ASC Board of Governors Award, given “to individuals who have made extraordinary achievements to advancing [sic] the art and craft of filmmaking.”

Previous Board of Governors Award recipients include:

Warren Beatty. Francis Ford Coppola. Sally Field. Morgan Freeman. Ron Howard. Sydney Pollack. Martin Scorsese. Steven Spielberg.

'Special rapport'

ASC Awards committee chair Richard Crudo was quoted as saying that Julia Roberts was a good choice because “cinematographers and actors have a special rapport that begins with a mutual trust. Julia brings something extra to that relationship and further elevates what we do with her beauty and grace. She's a gift to every cinematographer she works with.”

As TheWrap's Steve Pond remarked, after receiving the award from Tom Hanks – who made some crack about Roberts being 25 or whereabouts – the forty-something star of Eat Pray Love “reprised a joke she made at the Oscars in 2003 when she paid tribute to cinematographers 'because I know what I look like at 5:30 in the morning.'"

And that's how the “art and craft of filmmaking” is advanced.


American Society of Cinematographers website.

Julia Roberts Eat Pray Love movie image: François Duhamel / Columbia Pictures.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Inception movie image: Warner Bros.

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4 Comments to 'Inception' Surprise, Julia Roberts: American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards

  1. Andre

    Thanks for writing, Nathan.
    You're probably right about Roger Deakins at the Oscars.

  2. editor

    Many thanks for the correction.
    I'm assuming he read (or thought) “Thunderheart” but typed “Braveheart.”

  3. wade carter

    Deakins did not work on Braveheart that was John Toll.

  4. It's important to note that the ASC is hardly a good judge of an eventual winner at the Oscars. Since 1986, only 9 winners of the ASC Award ended up winning Best Cinematography at the Oscars. That's 9/24, or 37.5%. A little over 1/3 of the time ASC matches up with Oscar. Even if we're only using the past decade as a judge, from 2000-2009, only 4 of the winners of the ASC Award won Best Cinematography at the Oscars. This equals out to a slightly higher, but still relatively low 40%.

    Also, Oscar might be feeling some heat to finally award Deakins, as he's been nominated 8 times but never won and many consider him to be one of the greatest cinematographers of all time (I personally ascribe to this view).

    One last point is that only 3 times in Oscar's history has a movie received 10 or more nominations and walked away completely empty-handed. Gangs of New York (10 nominations, 0 wins), The Color Purple (11 nominations, 0 wins), and The Turning Point (11 nominations, 0 wins). Given that True Grit doesn't seem to be very competitive in any other awards categories, Cinematography seems like the one award it has a very good chance of winning. Again, statistically, there have been 77 movies in Oscar history which have been nominated for 10+ awards, and only 3 have failed to win a single award. That's 3/77 or 3.8%. Unless Steinfeld wins for Best Supporting Actress (which seems less and less likely every day), I would bet on True Grit coming away with Cinematography.

    Wally Pfister's work on Inception was brilliant, but for the moment I'll keep my money on Deakins to win the Oscar.