While Damien Chazelle predictably took the DGA Award for “La La Land” on Saturday night, the ASC rejected the self-reverential Hollywood musical in favor of the more dramatic and politically impactful “Lion,” honoring Australian cinematographer Greig Fraser. “Lion” director Garth Davis took home Best First Director at the DGAs.
However, “La La Land’s” cinematographer, Linus Sandgren, still remains the Oscar favorite, despite the fact that, in the last 20 years, the ASC winner has taken the Academy Award 11 times.
With “Lion,” the incredibly true story of Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel), the Indian who used Google Earth to locate his birth family several decades after his separation and adoption in Australia, Fraser essentially made two movies in one. Fortunately, the top Camerimage prize winner had previous experience shooting in India.
“Trying to capture the essence of India is almost like trying to bottle magic, which is hard to do because India is so broad and diverse — it’s controlled chaos,” Fraser told IndieWire. “But there’s spirituality and wholeness to the people. India was Saroo’s home and we couldn’t show it as a desperate, glum, poor place. India needed to be beautiful and radiating love.”
The TV winners, meanwhile, were Igor Martinovic for “The Night of” (“Subtle Beast”), Fabian Wagner for “Game of Thrones” (“Battle of the Bastards”), and Tod Campbell for “Mr. Robot” (“eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc”). (Both “The Night Of” and “Game of Thrones” won at the DGAs as well.)
The Spotlight winner was Gorka Gomez Andreu for “House of Others.”
The Board of Governors Award went to Denzel Washington (“Fences”), the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ed Lachman (“Carol”), the Career Achievement in TV was presented to Ron Garcia (“Twin Peaks”), the International Award went to Philippe Rousselot (“A River Runs Through It”), and the Presidents Award was granted to Nancy Schreiber (“The Celluloid Closet”).
Lachman, Garcia, Rousselot, and Schreiber stressed the importance of compassion in cinematic storytelling and the invaluable contributions of immigrant cinematographers in American cinema. Likewise, Martinovic said his win was a victory for immigrants.
The Vilmos Zsigmond Heritage Award for student filmmaking went to Emmett Sutherland (Undergraduate) for “Closer” and Andrew Jeric (Graduate) for “Prisoner.” And the Haskell Wexler Student Documentary Award was presented to Colin F. Shepherd for “Into the Microscope.”