Oscar’s Invisible Women of Cinematography: How Female DPs Should Be Front and Center This Awards Season

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The cinematography field is packed with immeasurable talent but not equal opportunities, particularly for women. When a tragedy occurs such as the loss of Halyna Hutchins, who died at 42 after being shot by a prop firearm on the set of the indie film “Rust,” the absence is felt throughout the industry.

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In the 93 years of the Academy Awards, Rachel Morrison is the only woman ever to be nominated for cinematography, for her work on Dee Rees’ “Mudbound.” And the cinematographers’ branch has a poor track record for honoring diverse and inclusive artists. Case in point: A Black cinematographer has never won the category, and only two have been nominated (Remi Adefarasin for 1998’s “Elizabeth” and Bradford Young for 2016’s “Arrival”).

This year, multiple women are bringing their A-game to high-profile films. Ari Wegner creates distinct visions in Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” from Netflix and Janicza Bravo’s “Zola” from A24. Wegner is one of the period film’s leading contenders; the streamer also was behind Morrison’s historic recognition.

Kristen Stewart’s sensational performance as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer” is elevated significantly by the smooth orange and yellow hues brought by Claire Mathon. She’s playing double duty at distributor Neon, which also is handling her project “Petite Maman” from Céline Sciamma.

With a plethora of black-and-white entries in the fray, there are notable considerations that are dark horses at the moment but should be given proper shakes, particularly Hélène Louvart from Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” and Paula Huidobro from “CODA.”

Alice Brooks turns the Latino streets of New York into a high-energy dance party with Jon M. Chu’s “In the Heights” from Warner Bros. All eyes will be on her upcoming collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda on his directorial debut, “Tick, Tick … Boom!,” at Netflix.

Denzel Washington is in the lead actor hunt for “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” but his directing effort “A Journal for Jordan” calls on the talents of Maryse Alberti.

If you notice a trend, many of these films are helmed by female filmmakers or male artists from underrepresented communities. It looks like Hollywood still has a lot of work to do, even if the number of contenders is greater than in previous years.

Other cinematographers worth highlighting: Caroline Champetier (“Annette”), Jeanne Lapoirie (“Benedetta”), Jani-Petteri Passi (“Compartment No. 6”), Kim White (“Luca”), Maria Rusche (“Shiva Baby”), Daria D’Antonio (“The Hand of God”) and Daniele Massaccesi (“The Matrix: Resurrections”).

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