Emmanuel Lubezki, the d.p. behind “Birdman” (pictured), walked away with the top prize at the 29th Annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on Sunday night. It’s the second consecutive ASC win for Mexican lenser, who won last year for “Gravity” — for which he also took home the Oscar — and his fourth overall since 2007.
The laurel builds on the momentum leading up to the Academy Awards for “Birdman,” which in recent weeks took top prizes from the DGA, PGA and SAG, as well as a number of critics kudos for Lubezki, who was also honored by BAFTA and will be vying for the Oscar on Feb. 22.
Actor Giovanni Ribisi presented the award to Lubezki. This marks the first time a cinematographer has won consecutive ASC Awards in the theatrical category. Lubezki previously won in 2012 for “The Tree of Life” and and in 2007 for “Children of Men.”
The other nominees in the feature film category were oft-nominated Roger Deakins for “Unbroken,” Óscar Faura for “The Imitation Game,” Dick Pope for Mr. Turner and Robert D. Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Also winning a feature film prize was Peter Flinckenberg (“Concrete Night”), who won ASC’s Spotlight Award, introduced last year to recognize outstanding cinematography in non-mainstream features and documentaries that either received limited release, or were largely confined to the festival circuit or screened mostly outside the U.S. Two of the three nominees this year in this category are in black and white.
For the second straight year, Jonathan Freeman took the Outstanding Achievement Award for an episode of a regular series, which was presented by actress Sarah Paulson. Freeman was recognized for his work on the “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” episode of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” (Last year he took home the award for “Game of Thrones.”)
Other nominees in the episodic TV category were P.J. Dillon for History’s “Vikings” (“Blood Eagle” episode), Anette Haellmigk for “Game of Thrones” (“The Children” episode), Christopher Norr for Fox’s Batman origin tale “Gotham” (“Spirit of the Goat” episode), Richard Rutkowski for WGN America’s “Manhattan” (“Perestroika” episode), and Fabian Wagner for “Game of Thrones” (“Mockingbird” episode).
Actor Tony Revolori (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) presented the Television Movie/Miniseries/Pilot award to John Lindley for “Manhattan.” Lindley earned a previous nomination from the organization for “Pan Am” in 2012.
Also nominated in the Television Movie/Miniseries/Pilot category were David Greene for Lifetime TV movie “The Trip to Bountiful,” David Stockton for the “Gotham” pilot, and Theo Van de Sande for Lifetime TV movie “Deliverance Creek”
“Our members had a very difficult time choosing these nominees from such an incredible field of submissions,” said ASC prexy Richard Crudo. “They have done superlative work in a very challenging medium.”
Among the honorary award recipients, Barbra Streisand accepted her ASC Board of Governors Award, following in the footsteps of such past designees as Christopher Nolan, Warren Beatty, Jodie Foster and Julia Roberts. The actress-producer-writer-director, whose multi-hyphenate credits include “Yentl,” “The Prince of Tides” and “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” talked of her wide-ranging experience with cinematographers.
Streisand reminisced about her collaboration with several d.p.’s, including Andrzej Bartkowiak, who presented her, and the late Laszlo Kovacs. She expressed special praise for Gordon Willis, who died last year — the d.p. on the “Godfather” and known as the prince of darkness for his somber lenswork. “He taught me a lot about light – and the beauty of turning it down.”
“I have a strange face,” said Streisand, joking about how some talented d.p.’s were able to capture the best sides of her asymmetrical visage and unusual nose.
In picking up his lifetime achievement award from writer-producer-director Lawrence Kasdan, John Bailey, whose credits include “Ordinary People,” “The Big Chill” and “As Good As It Gets,” regretted that these days “it’s difficult to get non-action films made – the kind I’ve been privileged to work on.”
Matthew F. Leonetti (“Rush Hour 2,” “Dawn of the Dead”) was recognized with the ASC Presidents Award for his cinematographic contributions.
ASC’s Bud Stone Award of Distinction was given to Otto Nemenz, founder and CEO of rental facility Otto Nemenz Intl., and Denny Clairmont, president and co-founder of Clairmont Camera. The award is presented to an associate ASC Member who has demonstrated extraordinary service to the society and/or has made a significant contribution to the motion picture industry.
The two longtime competitors bantered on stage. “I can’t retire till you retire,” said Nemenz to Clairmont, just before the duo walked off to resounding applause.
Cinematographer Bill Roe, who’s shot nearly 200 television episides, took home the Career Achievement in Television Award, presented by actor Nathan Fillion.
Also receiving honorary awards were Matthew Leonetti (Presidents Award) and Phil Méheux (International Award). Méheux, whose credits include two Bond films — “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royal,” said that despite the onslaught of digital, “the romance is still there, and it’s up to all of us to keep it alive.”