32nd Annual ASC Awards: Picture Perfect

Hosted by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, this year’s ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography celebrated a diverse array of imagery, as well as masters of the craft.

David E. Williams

The 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Russell Carpenter, ASC accepts with style.

Hosted by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, this year’s ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography celebrated a diverse array of imagery, as well as masters of the craft.

Cinematography's biggest night of the year took place Saturday, February 17 in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland complex — just a stone's throw from the historic ASC Clubhouse, where the post-show after party would later take place, of course.

(Complete list of nominees and winners here.)

After the lights dimmed, a reel showcasing examples of cinematography representing almost 100 years of film history — as well as some of this year's honorees and nominees — quickly set the mood for the room’s more than 1,500 attendees:

The show then started as ASC Awards Committee Chairman Don McCuaig, ASC introduced the evening's master of ceremonies, Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz:

The presentations kicked off with the ASC Board of Governors Award, given to actress-writer-producer-director Angelina Jolie — who was introduced by friend and collaborator Dean Semler, ASC.

At the podium, Semler embraces ASC Board of Governors honoree Angelina Jolie.

In 2011, Jolie was to make her feature-film directorial debut with the drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, depicting the conflict of the divisive Bosnian civil war. Seeking a cinematographer for the modestly budgeted project, she asked Oscar-winner Semler for a recommendation, having worked closely with him on the 1999 thriller The Bone Collector. He volunteered himself for the assignment.

When Semler was honored with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, Jolie personally presented the trophy to him at that year’s ceremony, so his intro for her this year was especially poignant, leading into Jolie’s eloquent and heartfelt acceptance speech:

The first competitive ASC Award of the evening — presented by actor Sean Astin, for Episode of a Series for Commercial Television — was won by Boris Mojsovski, CSC for his work in the episode “Thief” of the Syfy series 12 Monkeys. He quickly made his way to the stage:

We caught up with Mojsovski on the red carpet outside the Dolby Ballroom for a brief interview with AC managing editor Jon Wiitmer, which was streamed via Facebook Live:

Veteran cinematographer Alan Caso, ASC was then presented with the Career Achievement in Television Award by actor Daniel Dae Kim, with whom he had collaborated on the stylish series Hawaii Five-O and who mixed humor and wry observation with deep a appreciation for his compatriot:

Caso was equally compelling when he later sat down with Witmer on the red carpet:

This year’s In Memoriam paid tribute to the ASC members who passed in 2017: Michael Ballhaus, Bobby Byrne, Vincent G. Cox, Gerald Hirschfeld, Fred Koenekamp, Harry Stradling Jr. and Sol Negrin

In the category of Motion Picture, Miniseries, or Pilot Made for Television, Mathias Herndl, AAC took the ASC Award for for his work in the National Geographic series Genius for the episode “Chapter 1.” Unfortunately, the cinematographer was not in attendance, but presenter Kerri Kenny-Silver accepted for the ASC on his behalf:

Each year, the ASC Student Heritage Awards are named in the memory two ASC members. And in 2017, Andrew Lesnie and Haskell Wexler were so honored, with student cinematographers Logan Fulton, Connor Ellmann and Favienne Howsepian winning in their three respective categories. While also honored at the ASC Awards, their official presentation ceremony took place in October of last year.

Each year, the Bud Stone Award for Distinction is presented to a key industry figure who has made significant contributions to the motion picture community, and this year, Kino Flo Lighting Systems founder and president Frieder Hochheim was the very worthy recipient of this unique honor. 

A complete surprise to Hochheim, the presentation was made by ASC President Kees van Oostrum:

The ASC associate member also spoke to Witmer on the red carpet:

Afterwards, van Oostrum spoke fondly of his longtime friend and colleague — a true pioneer in the realm of lighting — as well as another key component of this year’s event, building momentum and visibility for the ASC Vision Committee:

Recognized for his work behind the camera as well as his contributions to the industry, Presidents Award honoree Stephen Lighthill, ASC took the stage after an introduction by Bob Gazzale, the president and CEO of the American Film Institute:

On the red carpet, Lighthill then spoke to Witmer about his career and transition into education, as he is now the chair of the cinematography department at the AFI:

The show then moved on to its next competitive category, the ASC Spotlight Award, which strives to showcase work that might otherwise not be recognized. And presenting this prize was John Baily, ASC — the first cinematographer to become the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and a stalwart supporter of unique cinema.

The winner was Estonian cinematographer Mart Taniel, ESC, whose striking black-and-white feature film November clearly caught the eyes of ASC voters:

Taniel then briefly spoke to Witmer on the red carpet:

Bailey also spoke of his love for independent, imagery-driven cinema such as November and why the Spotlight Award is important:

The show then took time to recognize ASC Awards Chairman Emeritus Owen Roizman, ASC — who was celebrated with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 and then this year was presented with an honorary Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Roizman with family and friends, including (on left) his wife Mona and (on right) son Eric. (Photo courtesy of Tor Johansen)

Richard Crudo, ASC did the honors of introducing this reel that helped convey Roizman’s exceptional legacy with images from films including The French Connection, The Exorcist, Network, Tootsie and Wyatt Earp — all for which he earned Academy Award nominations:

Next up was the International Award, bestowed this year upon Australian cinematographer Russell Boyd, ASC, ACS, with the presentation made by friend, cinematographer and fellow Aussie Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS:

On the red carpet, Boyd spoke to Witmer about his tremendous body of work and deep appreciation for being able to practice his craft on multiple continents, making the International Award something very special:

The evening’s third and final award for television work — Episode of a Series for Non-Commercial Television, presented by actress Teri Polo — was won by Adriano Goldman, ASC, ABC for the Netflix series The Crown, specifically the episode “Smoke and Mirrors.”

Goldman also spoke to Witmer on the red carpet, enthusiastically noting, “I think this is the coolest award I could ever get!”

Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Russell Carpenter, ASC was then brought up to the stage by his presenter, master cinematographer Dante Spiniotti, ASC, AIC — who was recognized with the same honor from the Society in 2011:

On the red carpet, Carpenter spoke at some length about the range of productions in his career, from the modestly budgeted Indian feature Parched to his latest project, re-teaming with his True Lies and Titanic director, James Cameron, on his upcoming Avatar sequels:

Finally, the Theatrical Release category was presented by two ASC members who are no strangers to being on stage at the ASC Awards: Emmanuel Lubezki and Matty Libatique. Clad in “Mitchell BNC 2” T-shirts, both were excited to announce that the winner was Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for his work in the sci-fi spectacle Blade Runner 2049

Lubezki and Libatique make the big reveal for Theatrical Release. (Photos courtesy of Tor Johansen)

Unfortunately, the cinematographer was not able to attend the event, but the prize was accepted by his wife and collaborator, James Deakins:

This is Deakins’ fourth win and his 15th ASC nomination. He previously won for SkyfallThe Man Who Wasn’t There and The Shawshank Redemption. His other nominations include UnbrokenPrisonersTrue Grit, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old MenO Brother, Where Art Thou?Kundun and Fargo.

Afterwards, James Deakins spoke with Witmer on the red carpet about the challenge of the project and their close collaboration with director Denis Villeneuve:

You'll find a complete gallery of images from the 32nd annual ASC Awards here.

The 33rd ASC Awards are already in the planning phase, as are a variety of events and festivities in connection with the 2019 100th anniversary of the founding of the ASC.

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