The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work on one particular motion picture.

The Academy Film Archive houses the surviving films of every cinematographer who has won this award.

The inaugural winner of the award was Charles Rosher, for his work on Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans in 1927.

The cinematography award was officially named Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the 7th Academy Awards, and has remained under this name since then.

academy award for best cinematography

What Is The academy award for best cinematography?

The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work on one particular motion picture.

The American Society of Cinematographers considers the award the most prestigious in cinematography.

The first Academy Awards presentation was on May 16, 1929. Since then, the award has been presented every year, including two occasions during which two cinematographers were given the award for their work on the same film.



History Of Cinematography At The Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is the organization responsible for awarding the Oscars each year. Besides handing out statuettes, the Academy also runs a film archive that includes over 600,000 titles.

However, it wasn’t until the late 1940s that the Academy started recognizing technical achievements in a film with their Scientific or Technical Awards. In 1949, George Stevens received an Oscar for his work in color filming (although he lost to King Vidor for his work on “Duel in the Sun”.)

This is when the history of cinematography at the Oscars began. Stevens’ win preceded with an award for black and white cinematography in 1950 and then again in 1951, with Robert Surtees winning for “Lawrence of Arabia”, and Jack Cardiff taking home an award for “Tomahawk”.

The awards were not given out again until 1954, when Fred Koenekamp received an award for his color photography on “The Country Girl”, which was directed by George Seaton. Just a year later, Charles Lawton Jr. took home an Oscar for Color Cinematography for “The Rose Tattoo” (which was directed by Vincent Minnelli).

Best Cinematography Oscar

The cinematography category of the Academy Awards is one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. From 1927 to 1930, there were no awards for cinematography, except for a special award given in 1929 to W. Howard Greene for “The Wings”, which introduced a new style of filming.

The Academy Awards called upon members of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) to select the best films and performances based in part on their work throughout the year.

In the late 1930s, the distinction between nominees in different categories became unclear and established a single Grand Award that included outstanding achievements in both sound production and technical contributions, such as sound recording.

In 1944, the rules changed and began allowing multiple nominations in each category, but stipulated that only one award would be presented; however, two statuettes received an award for Best Color Cinematography beginning in 1949. They rescinded this rule in 1954, restoring the single-award format and requiring multiple wins to be recognized.

Until 2011, they presented separate awards for color and black-and-white cinematography; since then, they have subsumed color within black-and-white under a single category.


Best Cinematography Winners & Nominees

The “Best Achievement in Cinematography Award” is granted to the Camera and Optical Departments of a film for their achievement in enhancing the story being told. The cinematography of a film creates an emotional response in the audience by using various techniques, such as camera movement and color.

The following is the list of the 90th Academy Award winners and nominees in the category of Best Cinematography. We list the winner first, followed by nominees:

  • Blade Runner 2049 by Roger Deakins (Winner)
  • Mudbound by Rachel Morrison
  • The Shape of Water by Dan Laustsen
  • The Darkest Hour by Bruno Delbonnel
  • Dunkirk by Hoyte van Hoytema
  • Blade Runner 2049 by Roger Deakins
  • The Shape of Water by Dan Laustsen
  • Phantom Thread by Hoyte van Hoytema
  • Darkest Hour by Bruno Delbonnel

All Best Cinematography Oscar Winners

Best Cinematography is awarded to the cinematographer responsible for a film’s visual look and feel. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) presents a competitive award for outstanding cinematography in both the feature-film and short-film categories.

The most recent ceremony, the 87th Academy Awards, honored the best films of 2014. Emmanuel Lubezki won the award for “Gravity”, which was his third win out of four nominations.

Of all the movies nominated, “Birdman” scooped up the highest number of awards with four wins out of nine nominations. It was also a big night for Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, which won three awards out of its six nominations.

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” also scored a hat-trick by winning three awards out of 11 nominations. They announced nominations on January 15 and the ceremony took place on February 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the event for the second time in her career and the actress had everyone laughing throughout the show. She even made Meryl Streep break her rule about not clapping during other people’s speeches.

Who Has Won The Most Oscars For Cinematography?

There are many factors that determine if a film will win an Oscar. One of the most important is cinematography.

Cinematography is the art of motion-picture photography, including the selection of camera, film stock, lenses and filters, exposure, and lighting. The word cinematography was first used in the 1890s for the close-up images that were being used at the time to promote a theater.

A good cinematographer can make even the most boring film look amazing, and a bad one can ruin even the best movie.

A few years ago, I was curious about who had won the most Oscars for cinematography, so I spent some time researching this topic. I thought it was worth sharing it with you. Here is the list of the winners of the most Oscars for Cinematography:

  • 2 wins – Charles Rosher & Karl Struss (The Jazz Singer) 
  • 2 wins – Cedric Gibbons & Harold Rosson (Anna Christie) 
  • 2 wins – Burnett Guffey & William H. Daniels (Knute Rockne: All American) 
  • 2 wins – Joseph Ruttenberg & George Folsey (How Green Was My Valley)
  • 3 wins – Robert Surtees (Gone With The Wind)
  • 3 wins – Leon Shamroy (For Whom The Bell Tolls)

Who Is The World’s Best Cinematographer?

There are various cinematographers in the film industry that I would say will truly take your breath away. Not just with the awards and nominations they have received, but also with the way they have created their masterpieces.

Trevor Moggach

Trevor Moggach, ASC, BSC is a British cinematographer and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on “The Constant Gardener” (2005).

He was also nominated for two Emmy Awards and won one BAFTA Award. He was elected to membership of both the American and British Societies of Cinematographers.

Moggach began his career as a camera operator at Shepperton Studios, working on commercials, low-budget films, and television productions.

In 1999 he became the first resident cinematographer at the National Film and Television School, where he taught and shot short films by students and recent graduates.

In 2000, Moggach shot his first feature film, “Pitch Black” (2000) directed by David Twohy. His next project was Mike Leigh’s “Topsy-Turvy” (1999), which won him his first BAFTA award.

Director Fernando Meirelles then invited Moggach to shoot his acclaimed drama, “City of God”.

Vittorio Storaro

The works of Vittorio Storaro have always fascinated me. His movie credits include “Apocalypse Now”, “Reds”, “Last Tango in Paris”, “The Conformist”, and more.

He has a list of Academy Award nominations longer than most people’s resumes, and is frequently cited as one of the world’s best cinematographers. Martin Scorsese gave tribute to Storaro, stating: “Vittorio Storaro’s visual poetry has expanded the language of cinema for nearly 40 years.”

Scorsese isn’t alone in his reverence for Storaro. A quick Google search will reveal dozens of other directors who have taken Storaro’s cinematography to ask for some of their favorite moments in film history.

Storaro is also a director himself and has even won awards at the Cannes Film Festival for his films. He is a man whose talent runs deep — one who can not only shoot pictures but make them as well.

And yet this master at his craft still finds room to grow and learn every day — which is why he took on a new challenge as a teacher at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts this past year.

But if you ask anyone who has ever worked in the film industry, they will tell you that there is no debate: Roger Deakins is the best cinematographer working today.

Roger Deakins

Truly a master of his craft, Deakins received nominations thirteen times for an Academy Award and won three of them. He has also received nine BAFTA nominations and two Golden Globes.

Roger Deakins is also known for his collaborations with directors Joel and Ethan Coen, Sam Mendes, Terry Gilliam, and Denis Villeneuve. His work on “Blade Runner 2049” was recently nominated for a BAFTA award.