Cinematographer Ari Wegner Makes Oscars History as Second Woman to Be Nominated

Wegner is only the second woman to be nominated for Best Cinematography, following Rachel Morrison in 2018.
DP Ari Wegner and Jane Campion filming "The Power of the Dog"

“The Power of the Dog” director of photography Ari Wegner has officially become the second woman ever nominated for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. Wegner’s work on director Jane Campion’s awards season favorite Western has also been nominated by the BAFTAs, the American Society of Cinematographers, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association for “The Power of the Dog.” Campion is also the first woman to be nominated twice for Best Director.

“The Power of the Dog,” which premiered the 2021 Venice International Film Festival before a limited theatrical release and Netflix debut, leads the 94th Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including nods in three acting categories for stars Kirsten Dunst, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. The film was also nominated for Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“When Jane Campion calls you and says she wants to make a film with you, the rest of the world kind of disappears,” Wegner told IndieWire late last year. “Of course, I found the book that afternoon and read it straight away. I was gripped by it.”

Campion required that her cinematographer be involved in every aspect of planning, starting with the location scout, which suited Wegner’s impulses as a storyteller just fine. She spent a whole year with Campion just to prep. “The main thing we got to do that year was become really good friends,” Wegner told IndieWire. “Jane is a holistic person. She knew that she wanted a strong ally in her DP, a rock-solid sidekick [as well as] someone who was obviously going to do the job, make an amazing-looking film.”

Wegner’s honor follows Rachel Morrison’s nomination in 2018 for “Mudbound,” which made her the first woman ever nominated for Best Cinematography. While Morrison did not win that year, Wegner is the frontrunner among her 2022 competitors, including Greig Fraser (“Dune”), Dan Laustsen (“Nightmare Alley”), Bruno Delbonnel (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”), and Janusz Kaminski (“West Side Story”).

Wegner additionally was the director of photography on the critically acclaimed “Zola,” which was shut out of the Oscars, despite its Film Independent Spirit Awards and Gotham Awards nominations.

Winners will be announced at the 94th Oscars, which will take place on Sunday, March 27 live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, airing on ABC. While a host for the annual show has not yet been announced, AMPAS has promised that the event will indeed have a host this year. Check out the full list of this morning’s nominations right here.

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