‘Inception’s’ Wally Pfister Wins Top Cinematographers Prize

“Inception” cinematographer wins over Roger Deakins (“True Grit”), who picks up ASC Lifetime Achievement Award

Last Updated: February 13, 2011 @ 10:29 PM

"Inception" director of photography Wally Pfister won top honors from the American Society of Cinematographers at the ASC's annual awards show on Sunday night.

The win represented a bit of an upset, with many prognosticators picking "True Grit's" Roger Deakins to win the award. The announcement also appeared to surprise many at the ceremony — including presenter Diane Lane, whose husband Josh Brolin appears in "True Grit."

Immediately before Pfister's win, Deakins had been given the ASC's Lifetime Achievement Award. A few hours earlier, he'd been honored as the year's best cinematographer at BAFTA's Orange British Academy Film Awards in London.

Pfister was chosen by the ASC over a field that also included Matthew Libatique for "Black Swan,"  Danny Cohen for "The King's Speech" and Jeff Cronenweth for "The Social Network."

Over the last 10 years, ASC winners have gone on to win the Oscar for cinematography four times, including three of the last five years.

Awards for television were given to Jonathan Freeman and Stephen Windon for a pair of HBO programs, "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Pacific," respectively.

All three of the winners of the night's three competitive awards — Pfister, Freman and Windon — were working on other projects that kept them from attending.

Also at the ASC Awards, which took place in the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland center, Julia Roberts was given the ASC 2011 Board of Governors Award, which goes to "individuals who have made extraordinary achievements to advancing the art and craft of filmmaking."

Tom Hanks presented the award to Roberts, who reprised a joke she made at the Oscars in 2003 when she paid tribute to cinematographers "because I know what I look like at 5:30 in the morning."

Special honors also went to John Seale (the ASC International Award), Michael D. O'Shea (the ASC Career Achievement in Television Award) and Douglas Kirkland (the 2011 ASC Presidents Award).

The ceremony marked the 25th for the American Society of Cinematographers, whose first award in 1986 went to Jordan Cronenweth for "Peggy Sue Got Married." Cronenweth's son Jeff was a nominee this year.

The winners:

Feature Film: Wally Pfister, "Inception"
Television Episodic Series/Pilot: Jonathan Freeman, "Boardwalk Empire: Home"
Television Movie/Miniseries: Stephen Windon, "The Pacific: Okinawa"

Lifetime Achievement Award: Roger Deakins
Board of Governors Award: Julia Roberts
International Award: John Seale
Career Achievement in Television Award: Michael D. O'Shea
Presidents Award: Douglas Kirkland

ASC, BSC Heritage Awards: Boyd Hobbs, Full Sail University
     Dagmar Weaver-Madsen, UCLA