With his best cinematography win for Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant” Sunday night, lenser Emmanuel Lubezki entered the record books as the first director of photography to claim the prize three years in a row. He also won for “Gravity” and “Birdman.”
Lubezki was already in elite company with the “Birdman” win, joining an exclusive club whose ranks had not been breached in nearly two decades. Leon Shamroy (“Wilson,” “Leave Her to Heaven”), Winton Hoch (“Joan of Arc,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”) and John Toll (“Legends of the Fall,” “Braveheart”) were the only other cinematographers to have won competitive Oscars in consecutive years, though Howard Greene received special commendations for color photography in its early days, for 1936’s “The Garden of Allah” and 1937’s “A Star is Born.” Both films were shot via the three-strip Technicolor process, with “Allah” being just the third film to use the technique and the first to do it on location.
But now, Lubezki claims the three-peat for himself. He was nominated five times previously, for “A Little Princess” (1995), “Sleepy Hollow” (1999), “The New World” (2005), “Children of Men” (2006) and “The Tree of Life” (2011).
“This is incredible,” Lubezki said in accepting the Oscar Sunday. “I want to share it with the cast and crew, especially my compadre, Mr. Inarritu.” He also thanked 20th Century Fox and New Regency for the “freedom” afforded to the epic production.
Shamroy and Joseph Ruttenberg hold the overall record for Academy Award wins among DPs, with four.
Lubezki’s next film is Terrence Malick’s Christian Bale starrer “Knight of Cups,” releasing on March 4. Malick’s “Weightless,” also with Bale, will follow, with Paul Atkins’ “The Devil’s Teeth” on the horizon.