When the Academy Award for 'Best Cinematography' comes to mind, one thinks of the gorgeous images that are captured by the extremely talented Cinematographers who have been nominated, but as of recently, many of them believe that the award should be split into two. Ed Lachman, the Cinematographer for Carol and countless other films, claims that "It's becoming harder and harder to make that distinction between what is original photography and what is postdigital effects and photography". A suggestion to split the famed Oscar category into two separate awards seems far fetched, but in today's age, is it?
A recent film shot by Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant, has received a great deal of praise for it's exceptional Cinematography, also including the fact that 100% of the film was shot in natural lighting. The fact that most people do not know is that most of the film was digitally manipulated through color correction and masking to add or remove shadows. "Those were the kinds of things that we evened out and worked with the DI to find a good baseline of color for the entire scene. We worked with Chivo very closely and got a lot of his feedback to make sure the lighting and plates were matching." This is what frustrates the Cinematographer of The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson, because he claims a lot of what is done on visual effects heavy films completely alters what was originally captured in camera, and therefore should not be considered for the same awards as a film that was not as reliant on post production.
While this reason is a compelling one for the Academy to offer two different awards based on the process that each film goes through, it would be very difficult to distinguish which film would be put where. For example, while the Cinematography of all of David Fincher's films is almost all done in camera, he goes through a process where he combines several takes of the same scene, thus creating the 'perfect take' as he calls it. Where would a film of his land? While it was all achieved in camera, many of his scenes are manipulated in ways that change the dynamic of each shot, and there are many other films that are the exact same. Lachman also admits, "I don't think there's an easy answer. Every film is so different".