March 1, 2018
Oscars 2018

Which Cameras Were Used on the Oscar-Nominated Films of 2018?

While the ARRI Alexa was easily the favorite among these Oscar-nominated films, there were a few notable technological choices this year.

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."

Dunkirk
'Dunkirk'

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

Dunkirk

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

Mudbound

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.      

Your Comment

9 Comments

This is the funny thing, all the best films that are not shot on film shoot on alexa, a used alexa body costs the same as a red raven, and they rent on sharegrid in LA for the same price as any low end camcorder. Don't be contrarian if you shoot indie. Finding a camera that no one is shooting on won't help your story or performances. Your film will be better and you'll have more time for performances, Alexa gives you that. Instead of waiting for a black shade calibration or for the ACs to figure out the bottomless menus, or for the grip department to ND windows, you will be filming more story beats and performances on Alexa. As long as the locations are decent Alexa with no lighting or crew will probably make a better indie movie than any other camera with a lighting and crew, if you are making a movie for less that $100,000.

March 1, 2018 at 12:50PM, Edited March 1, 12:50PM

3
Reply
Indie Guy
863

So you're suggesting shooting with an Alexa Classic as oppose to the Raven? Also to your point wouldn't it make sense to hire a crew including an AC that is adept to the camera that you're shooting with whether it's an Alexa, Red or whatever? This would avoid the AC having to learn while on the job.

March 1, 2018 at 5:37PM

11
Reply
avatar
Emil
Content
298

Yes classic any day of the week over raven, 800 iso will be a stop brighter on Alexa and you get a stop extra in the highlights, that’s like half the g and e not to mention the single rec709 lut that everyone has rather than 12 red ones which can trip up colorists. Now ur Ac needs to know the camera and your colorist. It’s pretty hard to make a bad image on Alexa, you literally have to try. Also other issues with Sony is that there is no 444 subsampling other than raw,and the axs recorder will kick its fan into high gear on long takes and trip up the actors.

March 2, 2018 at 11:06AM

7
Reply
Indie Guy
863

I disagree, the dynamic range on the Raven is definitely far superior to the 8 year old Classic. Also, the camera shoots raw and prores in case your posthouse/colorist is concerned. And yes your AC needs to know the camera, that's what an AC is for.

March 3, 2018 at 2:12AM, Edited March 3, 2:12AM

1
Reply
avatar
Emil
Content
298

Yeesh, thats debated, There are ac's that would argue they cover everything outside of the camera, and the DIT is responsible for the settings, but the DR comment is ridiculous. Do an over under test, it sound like it might blow your mind.

March 3, 2018 at 1:16PM

0
Reply
Indie Guy
863

Would be awesome if you could add what filmnegative and filmprint they used. Surely that is, in combination with lenses, more important than the camera the stock was exposed with?

March 1, 2018 at 2:35PM, Edited March 1, 2:36PM

3
Reply

...Raw......... of those mentioned I think only imax and panavision is film. Rest is digital.

March 1, 2018 at 2:44PM, Edited March 1, 2:46PM

0
Reply
avatar
Torben Greve
Cinematographer
892

I count four. :-)

March 1, 2018 at 2:51PM

0
Reply

"who shot The Post on a Panasonic Millenium XL2"

Typo. It was a Panavision.

March 6, 2018 at 11:20PM, Edited March 6, 11:20PM

4
Reply
David Gurney
DP
1528