It’s that special time of year when film nerds and pop culture enthusiasts join forces—it’s awards season. The 91st Academy Awards will air and this Sunday (February, 24th) and we’re here to talk about The Oscars Best Cinematography category. Don’t get us wrong; we’re excited to see who wins Best Picture and we love some good costume design. However, we’re in this for the camera gear (stares longingly at the Sony 4K XDCAM).

In the most basic sense, cinematographers work directors to figure out the visual feel and intention of a movie (or show). Then, they select cameras, film stock, lenses, filters, lighting gear, and every other kind of equipment required to make it a visual masterpiece. 

Below is a list of the last ten Best Cinematography Oscar winners. Scroll to view the full list, pictures, and videos.

If you want to make Oscar-worthy work but don’t have the budget to invest in your won 7-axis robot, take a look at some of the cameras listed at the bottom of the post including the Sony XDCAM Super 35 and Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro

2017: Blade Runner 2049

Cinematographer: Roger Deakins

  • Shot On: ALEXA XT Studio cameras with Master Prime lenses
  • Director: Denis Villeneuve
  • Writers: Hampton Fancher (screenplay), Michael Green (screenplay), Hampton Fancher (story), Philip K. Dick (wrote originating novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”)
  • Stars: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas
  • Plot: Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

2016: La La Land

Cinematographer: Linus Sandgren

  • Shot On: Panavision XL2 in 2.55 CinemaScope (a format used prominently throughout the 1950s).
  • Director: Damien Chazelle
  • Writer: Damien Chazelle
  • Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
  • Plot: While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.

2015: The Revenant

Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki

  • Shot On: ALEXA XT, ALEXA M, and ALEXA 65 cameras combined with ARRI lenses.
  • Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • Writers: Mark L. Smith (screenplay), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (screenplay), Michael Punke (originating novel)
  • Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
  • Plot: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

2014: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki

  • Shot On: Arri Alexa, Alexa plus, and the Alexa M. The primary lenses used were Leica and Zeiss Master Primes.
  • Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • Writers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobon, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Raymond Carver (play)
  • Stars: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton
  • Plot: A washed-up superhero actor attempts to revive his fading career by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway production.

2013: Gravity

Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki

  • Shot On: film-gear company Bot&Dolly made a 7-axis robot called IRIS.
  • Director: Alfonso Cuarón
  • Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
  • Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
  • Plot: two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.

2012: Life of Pi

Cinematographer: Claudio Miranda

  • Shot On: The production shot with six Alexa cameras paired on three Cameron Pace Fusion rigs with ARRI / Zeiss Master Primes.
  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Writers: Yann Martel (novel), David Magee (screenplay)
  • Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
  • Plot: A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

2011: Hugo

Cinematographer: Robert Richardson

  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Shot On: ARRI ALEXA Camera, Cooke 5/i Lenses, Cooke S4 Lenses
  • Writers: John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (wrote original text “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”)
  • Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee
  • Plot: In Paris in 1931, an orphan named Hugo Cabret, who lives in the walls of a train station, is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

2010: Inception

Cinematographer: Wally Pfister

  • Shot On: Arriflex 235, Panavision Primo and G-Series Lenses, Arriflex 435 ES, Beaumont VistaVision Camera, Panavision 65 HR Camera/Lenses, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL, Panavision C-, E-, G-Series and Super High-Speed Lenses, Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio/Lenses, Photo-Sonics 4C, Photo-Sonics 4ER
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Writer: Christopher Nolan
  • Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
  • Plot: A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.

2009: Avatar

Cinematographer: Mauro Fiore

  • Shot On: PACE Fusion 3-D, Sony CineAlta F23, Sony CineAlta HDC-1500, Sony CineAlta HDC-F950, Canon and Fujinon Lenses
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Writer: James Cameron
  • Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
  • Plot: A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

2008: Slumdog Millionaire

Cinematographer: Anthony Dod Mantle

  • Shot On: Arricam LT, Arricam ST, Arriflex 235, Arriflex 35 BL4, Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Silicon Imaging SI-2K MINI, Zeiss Ultra Prime, Angenieux Optimo, Century, Canon, Cooke, and Linos Lenses
  • Directors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan (co-director)
  • Writers: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Vikas Swarup (novel)
  • Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla
  • Plot: A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”



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