The Academy Awards are less than a week away, which means we're all gearing up to fawn over the beautiful images we've been soaking in over the past year as they compete for the biggest honors in the land. But before the festivities commence, let's take a look at which cameras and lenses were used to capture these amazing films.

Now in the fourth year of doing this roundup, we've learned a lot about the tools used to make Oscar-nominated films, which is why we're not surprised to see that the ARRI Alexa, specifically the Mini, has been the weapon of choice for the vast majority of these filmmakers. But, as always, there are those who prefer the look of film, like Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino and DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, as well as Steven Spielberg and DP Janusz Kaminski, who shot The Post on a Panasonic Millenium XL2And of course, Paul Thomas Anderson, who is one of those diehard celluloid lovers like Tarantino, opted for shooting Phantom Thread on film.

And then you have this outlier, Christopher Nolan, who did something completely different by shooting his grand war epic on 70mm. The fact that this large-scale format projects a bigger image with greater detail allowed Nolan to immerse audiences into the horrific reality of WWII, something that reveals how technology and artistry can blend together to give both depth and practicality to storytelling.

Aside from the cameras, there were some notable choices in lenses, as well. While DP Sam Levy used an ARRI Alexa Mini on Lady Bird, he decided to use a combination of vintage glass, including Panavision Super Speed and Ultra Speed lenses, which tend to cause more flare and produce a softer look. Levy explained his choice by saying, "Back to the idea of 'plain and luscious,' we wanted a balance between ethereal and grounded. The older lenses glow a little more and render textures in a round way...We were trying for images that look great and that aren’t too dense or syrupy...nothing that would make someone go, 'Oh, wow, the photography!' The intent was to serve the whole."


Learn which cameras and lenses were used in the Oscar-nominated films below:

Blade Runner 2049

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT Studio, Mini, and Plus

Lenses: Zeiss Master Primes

Call Me By Your Name

Nominated for Best Picture (Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito)

Cameras: Arricam LT

Lenses: Cooke S4

Darkest Hour

Nominated for Best Picture (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski) and Best Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel)

Cameras:  ARRI Alexa Mini and SXT Plus

Lenses: Cooke S4 and Angenieux Optimo


Nominated for Best Picture (Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan), Best Directing (Christopher Nolan), and Best Cinematography (Hoyte van Hoytema)

Cameras: IMAX MKIV and MSM 9802, Panavision 65 HR, and Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio

Lenses: Hasselblad and Panavision Sphero 65

Get Out

Nominated for Best Picture (Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele) and Best Directing (Jordan Peele)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa Mini

Lenses: Angenieux Optimo

Lady Bird

Nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O'Neill) and Best Directing (Greta Gerwig)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa Mini

Lenses: Panavision Super Speed and Panavision Ultra Speed


Nominated for Best Cinematography (Rachel Morrison)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa Mini

Lenses: Panavision C and D Series Anamorphics

Phantom Thread

Nominated for Best Picture (JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, and Daniel Lupi), Best Directing (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Cameras: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Lenses: Panavision Ultra Speed Z-Series MKII

The Post

Nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O'Neill)

Cameras: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Lenses: Panavision Primo, PVintage, and PCZ

The Shape of Water

Nominated for Best Picture (Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale) and Best Directing (Guillermo del Toro), and Best Cinematography (Dan Laustsen)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa Mini and XT Plus

Lenses: Fujinon Alura and Zeiss Master Primes

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Nominated for Best Picture (Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonagh)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT Plus

Lenses: Panavision C-Series

It looks as though ARRI has a kung-fu grip on cinematography with the Alexa, and for good reason. Not only does it have unbeatable image quality, with high dynamic range and color reproduction, but it was really the only cinema camera out there when the digital revolution came. It's reliable, consistent, and at this point, pros have been using it for years, so they're comfortable with entrusting their work to it.

However, as we see time and time again at the Oscars, though not often, filmmakers can and will use whatever they can to create beautiful, memorable images, whether it's a DSLR or a GoPro. So, while this list may leave you with the impression that in order to shoot Oscar-worthy cinematography you have to use an Alexa, remember that there are plenty of films out there that utilize other kinds of cameras, from 16mm film cameras to smartphones.

As we always say, cameras don't make films, filmmakers do.