The 14th time was the charm for Roger Deakins on Sunday evening, when the legendary cinematographer won his first Academy Award after over a dozen nominations. His 2018 nod, for Blade Runner 2049, was the 14th in a career that has spanned over 40 years, many classics—including Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski, Fargo,and True Grit—and countless dazzling shots.
“I really love my job. I have been doing it a long time as you can see,” Deakins said, upon accepting his award. “One of the reasons I really love it is because of the people I work with in front of and behind the camera.” The cinematographer also joked that he had no interest in the evening’s prize for the shortest acceptance speech, deadpanning, “I don’t see myself on a Jet Ski somehow.”
Deakins beat out Darkest Hour’s Bruno Delbonnel, Dunkirk’s Hoyte van Hoytema, The Shape of Water’s Dan Laustsen, and Mudbound’s Rachel Morrison—the last of whom was the first female cinematographer to earn a nomination in the category.
Last month, Variety theorized why Deakins had not gotten his hands on an actual statuette until Sunday, pointing out that “part of the problem is that so many of Deakins’s nominations have come for films that weren’t widely embraced by the Academy. It’s rare for the cinematography prize to go to a film not nominated for best picture.”
In the lead-up to tonight’s Oscars, Deakins maintained that his lack of wins “doesn’t really bother me,” telling the Los Angeles Times, “I’m just proud to still be doing the job, really, and happy doing it.”
Blade Runner 2049 is the cinematographer’s third film with director Denis Villeneuve and, in an interview with Vanity Fair, Deakins explained the extent of the collaboration—designing the look of the world with the director, and even staying on set during postproduction to supervise visual-effects shots and ensure they maintained the spirit of bleakness he and Villeneuve had envisioned for the futuristic film.
Deakins has also collaborated with Martin Scorsese (Kundun), Sam Mendes(Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, and Skyfall), and, on many occasions, the Coen brothers (Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and No Country for Old Men,to name a few)—who have even crafted elaborate pranks in honor of the cinematographer.
Last February, Kevin O’Connell broke the longest streak for Oscar nominations without a win when the sound mixer won for Hacksaw Ridge, which was his 21st nomination.
“I can’t even tell you the experience it was for me,” O’Connell told press after finallywinning. “As much as I thought I knew what it would feel like [to win an Oscar] I didn’t. It was the greatest feeling in my entire life.”