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ASC Awards 2019: ‘Cold War’ Cinematographer Łukasz Żal Upsets ‘Roma’s’ Alfonso Cuarón

With his ASC victory, Żal makes it a much more competitive Oscar race in the battle of black-and-white movies.

“Cold War”

Amazon Studios


Polish cinematographer Łukasz Żal (“Cold War”) scored an upset victory over director Alfonso Cuarón (Oscar Best Picture frontrunner “Roma”) in the battle of
black-and-white movies Saturday night at the 33rd annual ASC Awards (at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood).

While Cuarón was the first director ever nominated by the ASC in the theatrical category to shoot his own movie, it really wasn’t such a stretch that the cinematographers went with their own by rewarding Żal. He previously shared the ASC Spotlight Award in 2014 with co-DP Ryszard Lenczewski for their work on the black-and-white “Ida” (also directed by Pawel Pawlikowski).

Read More:Oscars 2019: Best Cinematography Predictions

In terms of the Oscar race, however, the ASC has only been an average bellwether, which tips in Cuarón’s favor in his bid to become the first director honored for shooting his own movie.  Since 2000, only nine times have they matched (including Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki’s three consecutive wins).

With “Cold War,” the Polish foreign-language nominee, Żal reunited with Pawlikowski to shoot a dance of light and shadow about love and oppression that could only be achieved in black-and-white.


Photo by Carlos Somonte

Żal, who couldn’t attend the ceremony because he’s prepping a movie, also bested Matthew Libatique (“A Star Is Born”), Robbie Ryan (“The Favourite”), and Linus Sandgren (“First Man”). The Spotlight Award went to Giorgi Shvelidze for shooting the mystical Georgian art film, “Namme.”

The other three Oscar nominees are Libatique, Ryan, and the surprising Caleb Deschanel (“Never Look Away”), who snagged his sixth nod.

TV trophies went to James Friend for “Patrick Melrose” (“Bad News”), Adriano Goldman for “The Crown” (“Beryl”), and Jon Joffin for “Beyond” (“Two Zero One”).

Robert Richardson Robert Richardson poses with his award for best cinematography for "Hugo" during the 84th Academy Awards, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles84th Academy Awards Press Room, Los Angeles, USA

Robert Richardson

Joel Ryan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The ASC, celebrating its 100th anniversary, also awarded Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”) with the Board of Governors Award; Emmy-Award-winning DP Jeffrey Jur (“Bessie,” “Carnivale”) with the Career Achievement in Television Award); Franz Kraus, managing director, ARRI Group, was given the ASC Bud Stone Award of Distinction; and three-time Oscar winning DP Robert Richardson (“Hugo,” “The Aviator,” “JFK”) with the Lifetime Achievement Award. But Richardson is far from finished: He will be in the Oscar hunt next season with Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In fact, Tarantino presented Richardson with the honorary award, saying that, along with his late editor Sally Menke, he “is the greatest artistic collaborator of my life.”

“For 100 years, this distinguished body has allowed dreamers like me to have a profession,” said Richardson. “I wish to dedicate this award to those before, those who are here, and those who will lead us into the future.”

The full list of winners:

Theatrical Release
Łukasz Żal, PSC for “Cold War”

Spotlight Award
Giorgi Shvelidze for “Namme”

Motion Picture, Miniseries, or Pilot Made for Television
James Friend, BSC for “Patrick Melrose,” “Bad News”

Episode of a Series for Non-Commercial Television
Adriano Goldman, ASC, ABC for “The Crown,” “Beryl”

Episode of a Series for Commercial Television
Jon Joffin, ASC for “Beyond,” “Two Zero One”

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