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ASC Awards: ‘Dune’ Gets Oscar Momentum with Feature Cinematography Win

Greig Fraser powers his way to second ASC win, but still needs to fend off "The Power of the Dog" cinematographer Ari Wegner for the Oscar prize.

Dune

“Dune”

Warner Bros.

 IndieWire The Craft Top of the Line

Powerhouse “Dune” cinematographer Greig Fraser won the feature film prize Sunday night at the 36th annual ASC Awards (held at the organization’s clubhouse in Hollywood). This marks Fraser’s second ASC win after his Oscar-nominated “Lion.” He triumphed over Bruno Delbonnel (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”), Dan Laustsen (“Nightmare Alley”), Ari Wegner (“The Power of the Dog”), and Haris Zambarloukos (“Belfast”). All are Oscar nominees except Zambarloukos, who was beat out by Janusz Kamiński (“West Side Story”).

Fraser now has critical momentum going into next Sunday’s Oscars, bolstered by his recent BAFTA prize and praise for his dark and gritty “The Batman.” However, don’t be surprised if Wegner (winner of the Critics Choice Award) pulls off an upset over her fellow Australian and becomes the first woman to win the Oscar for cinematography. Her director, “Power of the Dog’s” Jane Campion, is expected to win the Oscar for Best Director. Previously, Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”) was the only woman cinematographer ever nominated for both the ASC and Oscars.

Both “Dune” (Warner Bros.) and “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) use the camera brilliantly to convey complex psychological dramas: For Denis Villeneuve’s epic, sci-fi Dune,” Fraser conveys the visually diverse world building and its impact on Timothée Chalamet’s messianic journey as Paul Atreides. It was photographed in large format by Fraser, who alternated between the Alexa LF and IMAX 65mm cameras (used for Paul’s surreal dreams and visions on the desert planet Arrakis).

For Campion’s western deconstruction and Best Picture frontrunner, Wegner shot large-format with the Alexa LF (and vintage anamorphic Ultra Panatar lenses) to take advantage of the vast landscapes in New Zealand (filling in for Montana circa 1925). The exteriors are bright and de-saturated, while the interiors of the immense ranch house have a dark foreboding, symbolizing the duality within Benedict Cumberbatch’s troubled rancher.

Meanwhile, The Spotlight award went to Pat Scola for “Pig” (Neon) while the documentary recipient was Jessica Beshir for “Faya Dayi” (Janus Films).

TV winners included “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime), “Titans” (HBO Max), “Snowfall” (FX), and “Mythic Quest” (Apple TV+).

Special ASC honors went to Ellen Kuras (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), the first woman to earn the Lifetime Achievement Award, Peter Levy (“Californication”) for the Career Achievement in Television Award, John Lindley (“Field of Dreams”) for the President’s Award, and Dan Sasaki (VP of Optical Engineering at Panavision) for the Curtis Clark Technical Achievement Award.

Feature Film
• Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS for “Dune”

Spotlight
• Pat Scola for “Pig”

Documentary
• Jessica Beshir for “Faya Dayi”

Motion Picture, Limited Series, or Pilot Made for Television
• James Laxton, ASC for “The Underground Railroad” – Episode: Chapter 9: Indiana Winter

Episode of a One-Hour Television Series – Non-Commercial
• Boris Mojsovski, ASC, CSC for “Titans” – Episode: Home

Episode of a One-Hour Television Series – Commercial
• Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC for “Snowfall” – Episode: Weight

Episode of a Half-Hour Television Series
• Michael Berlucchi for “Mythic Quest” – Episode: Backstory!

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