Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography – Will the Branch Look Past Mixed Reviews and Invite Roger Deakins and Robert Richardson?

Other contenders include 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,' 'Empire of Light,' 'The Fabelmans' and 'Women Talking'

Empire of Light
Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages are Davis’ assessment of the current standings of the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any film or performance. Like any organization or body that votes, each individual category is fluid and subject to change. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

LAST UPDATED: Dec. 2, 2022

2023 Oscars Predictions: Best Cinematography

emancipation Everett Collection

CATEGORY COMMENTARY: All I’m saying is, watch out for Robert Richardson’s work in “Emancipation” to become a spoiler in this race that has seemed like a three-horse race between “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Fabelmans” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Richardson, a three-time winner for “JFK” (1991), “The Aviator” (2004) and “Hugo” (2011), could have one more trip to the stage waiting for him.

And I wouldn’t dismiss “RRR” from K. K. Senthil Kumar to make a welcomed entry.

See the latest film predictions, in all 23 categories, in one place on Variety’s Oscars Collective. To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.

Find the SAG Awards predictions for film and Golden Globe predictions in all of the film categories on their respective pages.

See the 2022-2023 Awards Season calendar for all key dates and timelines.


TOP GUN: MAVERICK, (aka TOP GUN 2), from left: Miles Teller, Tom Cruise, 2022. ph: Scott Garfield /© Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

And The Predicted Nominees Are:
RankFilmDirector of PhotographyDistributor
1“Top Gun: Maverick”Claudio MirandaParamount Pictures
After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.
2“Emancipation”Robert RichardsonApple Original Films
A runaway slave forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him.
3“The Fabelmans”Janusz KaminskiUniversal Pictures
A semi-autobiography based on Spielberg’s own childhood growing up in post-war Arizona, from age seven to eighteen.
4“Empire of Light”Roger DeakinsSearchlight Pictures
“Empire of Light” is a love story set in and around a beautiful old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.
5“Tár”Florian HoffmeisterFocus Features
Set in the international world of classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár. widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra.
Next in Line
6“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”Autumn Durald ArkapawMarvel Studios
The nation of Wakanda is pitted against intervening world powers as they mourn the loss of their king T’Challa.
7“The Banshees of Inisherin”Ben DavisSearchlight Pictures
Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.
8“Athena”Matias BoucardNetflix
Hours after the tragic death of their youngest brother in unexplained circumstances, three siblings have their lives thrown into chaos.
9“Avatar: The Way of Water”Russell Carpenter20th Century Studios
Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.
10“Babylon”Linus SandgrenParamount Pictures
Set in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies, focusing on a mixture of historical & fictional characters.
Other Top-Tier Contenders
11“RRR”K. K. Senthil KumarVariance Films
12“Everything Everywhere All at Once”Larkin SeipleA24
13“Nope”Hoyte van HoytemaUniversal Pictures
14“The Woman King”Polly MorganTriStar Pictures
15“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”Darius KhondjiNetflix
16“The Batman”Greig FraserWarner Bros.
17“Women Talking”Luc MontpellierMGM/United Artists Releasing
18“Devotion”Erik MesserschmidtSony Pictures
19“Elvis”Mandy WalkerWarner Bros.
20“Thirteen Lives”Sayombhu MukdeepromAmazon Studios/MGM
Also In Contention
21“Three Thousand Years of Longing”John SealeMGM/United Artists Releasing
22“Blonde”Chayse IrvinNetflix
23“All Quiet on the Western Front”James FriendNetflix
24“Don’t Worry Darling”Matthew LibatiqueWarner Bros
25“The Northman”Jarin BlaschkeFocus Features
All Contenders Listed (Unranked-Alphabetical)
“A Love Song”Alfonso Herrera SalcedoBleecker Street
“Neptune Frost”Anisia UzeymanKino Lorber
“Murina”Hélène LouvartKino Lorber
“A Man Called Otto”Matthias KoenigswieserSony Pictures
“After Yang”Benjamin LoebA24
“You Won’t Be Alone”Matthew ChuangFocus Features
“The Outfit”Dick PopeFocus Features
“Aftersun”Gregory OkeA24
“All Quiet on the Western Front”James FriendNetflix
“All the Old Knives”Charlotte Bruus ChristiansenAmazon Studios
“Ambulance”Roberto De AngelisUniversal Pictures
“Amsterdam”Emmanuel Lubezki20th Century Studios
“Argentina, 1985”Javier JuliáAmazon Studios
“Armageddon Time”Darius KhondjiFocus Features
“As They Made Us”David Feeney-MosierQuiver
“Athena”Matias BoucardNetflix
“Avatar: The Way of Water”Russell Carpenter20th Century Studios
“Babylon”Linus SandgrenParamount Pictures
“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”Darius KhondjiNetflix
“Beast”Philippe RousselotUniversal Pictures
“Black Adam”Lawrence SherWarner Bros
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”Autumn DuraldMarvel Studios
“Blonde”Chayse IrvinNetflix
“Bodies Bodies Bodies”Jasper WolfA24
“Bones & All”Arseni KhachaturanMGM/United Artists Releasing
“Both Sides of the Blade”Eric GautierIFC Films
“Breaking”Doug EmmettBleecker Street
“Broker”Hong Kyung-pyoNeon
“Bros”Brandon TrostUniversal Pictures
“Bullet Train”Jonathan SelaSony Pictures
“Call Jane”Greta ZozulaRoadside Attractions
“Catherine Called Birdy”Laurie RoseAmazon Studios
“Causeway”Diego GarcíaA24/Apple Original Films
“Cha Cha Real Smooth”Cristina DunlapApple Original Films
“Close”Frank van den EedenA24
“Corsage”Judith KaufmannIFC Films
“Crimes of the Future”Douglas KochNeon
“Death on the Nile”Haris Zambarloukos20th Century Studios
“Decision to Leave”Kim Ji-yongMubi
“Devotion”Erik MesserschmidtSony Pictures
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”John MathiesonMarvel Studios
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”Alan GwizdowskiFocus Features
“Dog”Newton Thomas SigelMGM/United Artists Releasing
“Don’t Worry Darling”Matthew LibatiqueWarner Bros
“Downton Abbey: A New Era”Andrew DunnFocus Features
“Elvis”Mandy WalkerWarner Bros.
“Emergency”Michael DallatorreAmazon Studios
“Emily the Criminal”Jeff BiermanRoadside Attractions/Vertical Entertainment
“Empire of Light”Roger DeakinsSearchlight Pictures
“EO”Michał DymekJanus Films and Sideshow
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”Larkin SeipleA24
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”Steve YedlinNetflix
“God’s Country”Andrew WheelerIFC Films
“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”Bryan MasonSearchlight Pictures
“Good Night Oppy”David Paul JacobsonAmazon Studios
“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”Frank PassinghamNetflix
“Happening”Laurent TangyIFC Films
“Holy Spider”Nadim CarlsenUtopia
“Hunt”Lee Mo-gaeNo U.S. Distribution
“Hustle”Zak MulliganNetflix
“I Love My Dad”Steven Capitano CalitriMagnolia Pictures
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”Barry AckroydSony Pictures
“In Good Hands”Martin SzecsanovNetflix
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover”Benoît DelhommeNetflix
“Lightyear”Jeremy Lasky, Ian MegibbenPixar
“Living”Jamie D. RamsaySony Pictures Classics
“Lyle, Lyle Crocodile”Javier AguirresarobeSony Pictures
“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”Bianca ClineA24
“Master Gardener”Alexander DynanNo U.S. Distribution
“Master”Charlotte HornsbyAmazon Studios
“Matilda”Tat RadcliffeNetflix
“Men”Rob HardyA24
“Montana Story”Giles NuttgensBleecker Street
“Mr. Malcolm’s List”Tony MillerBleecker Street
“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”Felix WiedemannFocus Features
“My Policeman”Ben DavisAmazon Studios
“Nanny”Rina YangAmazon Studios
“Navalny”Niki WaltlCNN/Warner Bros.
“Nitram”Germain McMickingIFC Films
“Nope”Hoyte van HoytemaUniversal Pictures
“Official Competition”Arnau Valls ColomerIFC Films
“One Fine Morning”Denis LenoirSony Pictures Classics
“Pearl”Eliot RockettA24
“Persuasion”Joe AndersonNetflix
“R.M.N.”Tudor Vladimir PanduruIFC Films
“Raymond & Ray”Igor Jadue-LilloApple Original Films
“Return to Seoul”Thomas FavelSony Pictures Classics
“RRR”K. K. Senthil KumarVariance Films
“Saint Omer”Claire MithonNeon/Super
“See How They Run”Jamie D. RamsaySearchlight Pictures
“She Said”Natasha BraierUniversal Pictures
“Spoiler Alert”Brian BurgoyneFocus Features
“Stars at Noon”Eric GautierA24
“Tár”Florian HoffmeisterFocus Features
“The Banshees of Inisherin”Ben DavisSearchlight Pictures
“The Batman”Greig FraserWarner Bros.
“The Eight Mountains”Ruben ImpensM2 Pictures
“The Fabelmans”Janusz KaminskiUniversal Pictures
“The Good Nurse”Jody Lee LipesNetflix
“The Gray Man”Stephen F. WindonNetflix
“The Greatest Beer Run Ever”Sean PorterApple Original Films
“The Inspection”Lachlan MilneA24
“The Lost King”Zac NicholsonWarner Bros.
“The Menu”Peter DemingSearchlight Pictures
“The Northman”Jarin BlaschkeFocus Features
“The Pale Blue Eye”Masanobu TakanyagiNetflix
“The Phantom of the Open”Kit FraserSony Pictures Classics
“The Silent Twins”Jakub KijowskiFocus Features
“The Son”Ben SmithardSony Pictures Classics
“The Swimmers”Christopher RossNetflix
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”Nigel BuckLionsgate
“The Whale”Matthew LibatiqueA24
“The Woman King”Polly MorganTriStar Pictures
“The Wonder”Ari WegnerNetflix
“Thirteen Lives”Sayombhu MukdeepromAmazon Studios/MGM
“Thor: Love and Thunder”Barry IdoineMarvel Studios
“Three Thousand Years of Longing”John SealeMGM/United Artists Releasing
“Ticket to Paradise”Ole Bratt BirkelandUniversal Pictures
“Till”Bobby BukowskiOrion/United Artists Releasing
“Top Gun: Maverick”Claudio MirandaParamount Pictures
“Tori and Lokita”Benoît DervauxJanus Films
“Triangle of Sadness”Fredrik WenzelNeon
“Turn Every Page”Mott Hupfel
Sony Pictures Classics
“Turning Red”Mahyar Abousaeedi, Jonathan PytkoPixar
“Vengeance”Lyn MoncriefFocus Features
“War Pony”David GallegoPicturehouse Entertainment
“Wendell & Wild”Peter SorgNetflix
“Where the Crawdads Sing”Polly MorganSony Pictures
“White Noise”Lol CrawleyNetflix
“Wildcat”Trevor Beck Frost, Melissa Lesh, Harry TurnerAmazon Studios
“Women Talking”Luc MontpellierMGM/United Artists Releasing

2023 Academy Awards Predictions


The 95th Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2023.

2022 category winner: “Dune” (Warner Bros.) – Greig Fraser

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