The Last Contenders: Women and the Cinematography Oscar

In the entire history of the Academy Awards, no woman has ever been nominated in the category of Best Cinematography. While it is true that there are far more men than women working in this particular branch of behind-the-scenes skill, it is also true that there are female directors of photography who have been toiling away for years without the same recognition that their male counterparts receive. Below I have compiled a sample list from the pool of talented female cinematographers whose films were released theatrically in the past year or two – there may be more female DPs than you realize, photographing films you saw without knowing the identities of the women responsible for those images.

Céline Bozon – She photographed the most recent film by her brother Serge Bozon, the police comedy Tip Top (2013), which stars Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain as detectives. The film was described in a Variety film review as an “utterly brazen mix of screwball comedy, film noir and sharp social commentary that hits its own strange bullseye more often than not.”

Natasha Braier – The haunting and desolate landscape of a post-apocalypse Australia was captured by Braier in David Michôd’s The Rover (2014, pictured above); in a complete 180, she also photographed the romantic comedy Chinese Puzzle (2013), the third leg of French director Cédric Klapisch’s “Trilogy of Xavier” (the previous films being L’Auberge Espagnole from 2002 and Russian Dolls from 2005). Some of Braier’s earlier cinematographic efforts include XXY (2007, dir. Lucía Puenzo), Somers Town (2008, dir. Shane Meadows) and the Oscar-nominated The Milk of Sorrow (2009, dir. Claudia Llosa).

Ashley Connor – Connor has photographed two feature films by up-and-coming director Josephine Decker, Butter on the Latch (2013) and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014, pictured above), which were released theatrically on the same day a few months ago, November 14.

Autumn Cheyenne Durald – For her first feature-length fiction film, Durald shot Gia Coppola’s directorial debut, Palo Alto (2013, pictured above). Adapted by Coppola from James Franco’s short story collection of the same name, the film has the uneasy look and feel of a teenage girl’s complex life. Durald’s next project is One and Two, a fantasy-thriller starring young actress Kiernan Shipka.

Agnès Godard – Godard recently filmed Claire Denis’ Bastards (2013, their eighth feature-film collaboration), Claudia Sainte-Luce’s The Amazing Catfish (2013, pictured above) and Carol Morley’s The Falling (2014). Godard has earned accolades for working with many other renowned directors besides Claire Denis, including Peter Handke on The Absence (1992), Catherine Corsini on La Répétition (2001) and Leaving (2009), Tonie Marshall on Nearest to Heaven (2002), André Téchiné on Strayed (2003), Emmanuelle Bercot on Backstage (2005), Claude Berri on Hunting and Gathering (2007) and Ursula Meier on Home (2008) and Sister (2012).

Jeanne Lapoirie – Lapoirie has worked on many very different kinds of films in the past couple of years, including the French-Italian family dramedy A Castle in Italy (2013, pictured above), directed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; the international production Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas (2013), starring Mads Mikkelsen; and the legal drama Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014), which was Israel’s official submission to the upcoming Oscars. Lapoirie is probably best known for her collaborations with French director François Ozon, including Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000), Under the Sand (2000), 8 Women (2002) and Time to Leave (2005).

Hélène Louvart – Two of the most recent films that Louvart photographed are The Wonders (pictured above), an Alice Rohrwacher-directed drama which was nominated for Cannes’ Palme d’Or and won the Grand Prize of the Jury, and Larry Clark’s The Smell of Us, a teenage tale sure to invite as much ire as other Clark films like Kids (1995), Bully (2001) and Ken Park (2002). Louvart has quite a résumé, having also worked with Christophe Honoré (Ma Mère), Agnès Varda (The Beaches of Agnès) and Wim Wenders (Pina).

Anne Misawa – This year Misawa photographed Margarita, with a Straw, the new film by Indian female filmmaker Shonali Bose. In previous years Misawa also photographed Eden’s Curve (2003), which she directed herself, So Yong Kim’s Treeless Mountain (2008) and Bradley Rust Gray’s Jack & Diane (2012).

Reed Morano – After making her mark with her work on Frozen River (2008), this year Morano photographed the thriller Autumn Blood, family dramedy (and indie hit) The Skeleton Twins (pictured above), the gritty war drama War Story and the bigger-budget, Rob Reiner-directed comedy And So It Goes. Also keep an eye out for Morano’s directorial debut, Meadowland, set to debut later this year.

Polly Morgan – Originally from England, this director of photography has shown her range by working on the thriller The Truth About Emanuel (2013, dir. Francesca Gregorini) (pictured above), The Pretty One (2013, dir. Jenée LaMarque) and the romantic comedy We’ll Never Have Paris (2014, dirs. Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne) in the past couple of years. In addition to being a director of photography, Morgan has worked as an assistant camera or camera operator on such films as Enduring Love (2004), V for Vendetta (2005), Hairspray (2007), Inception (2010) and Marley (2012).

Rachel MorrisonCake (2014, pictured above) has been lauded for the makeup-free lead performance by Jennifer Aniston, photographed unflinchingly by Morrison. Along with Cake, other recent Morrison films, Little Accidents (directed by Sara Colangelo) and Druid Peak (directed by Marni Zelnick), are due to be released in American theaters soon as well. You may have also seen Morrison’s cinematography if you are familiar with Sound of My Voice (2011), Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012), Any Day Now (2012) and/or Fruitvale Station (2013).

Tami Reiker – Although she has not photographed many movies in the last twenty years, Reiker received acclaim for her earlier cinematographic work, including The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love (1995, dir. Maria Maggenti), High Art (1998, dir. Lisa Cholodenko) and Pieces of April (2003, dir. Peter Hedges). Reiker’s latest film, the Gina Prince-Bythewood-directed drama Beyond the Lights (pictured above), tells the story of a singing starlet (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who begins a relationship with a caring police officer (Nate Parker). Edited by Terilyn A. Shropshire, the film is a unique confluence of many talented female voices in film.

Nancy Schreiber – A veteran in the industry, she photographed Michael Maren’s indie comedy A Short History of Decay this year. Long a mainstay of the indie film leagues, Schreiber also contributed to the films Chain of Desire (1992), Dead Beat (1994), the documentary The Celluloid Closet (1995), Your Friends & Neighbors (1998), November (2004), Loverboy (2005), The Nines (2007) and Serious Moonlight (2009).

Christina Voros – Collaborating multiple times with James Franco over the last few years, including the features The Broken Tower (2011), Sal (2011) and As I Lay Dying (2013), this year saw the theatrical release of Franco’s Child of God (pictured above), an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, the film being photographed by Voros.

Mandy Walker – In another film that documents the outback, Walker photographed Tracks (2013, pictured above), which chronicles a young woman’s (Mia Wasikowska) 1,700-mile journey across the Australian deserts. If you are familiar with the films Lantana (2001), Shattered Glass (2003), the Baz Luhrmann epic Australia (2008), Beastly (2011) and/or Red Riding Hood (2011), they were all photographed by Walker too.

Dagmar Weaver-Madsen – She was cinematographer for the intimate Spanish romantic drama 10.000 Km (aka Long Distance) (pictured above), directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet and starring only two actors, Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer. Weaver-Madsen’s impressive work on this film includes the opening shot, which lasts for an astounding 23 (!) minutes. She also photographed the sci-fi comedy Plato’s Reality Machine (2013), which will be released to the Internet on January 20, and the pregnancy comedy Unexpected, which will be out this summer and which was directed by Kris Swanberg (wife of indie director Joe Swanberg).

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