Oscar 2014: Roger Deakins, Cinematographer of Unbroken, Oscar’s Greatest Loser?

Cinematographer Roger Deakins, best known for his work with the Coen brothers, is a multiple Academy nominee and one of Oscar’s greatest losters: 11 nominations but no win.

Deakins is known for favoring to use traditional film stock. But on Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” about Olympic runner and WWII survivor Louis Zamperini, he went digital, and used an Arri Alexa–the same camera he used on “Prisoners” and the latest James Bond “Skyfall”–for practical reasons.

“Unbroken” shot in Australia, where locations doubled for Torrance, California; the Olympiastadion in Berlin; the tropic; and, on an island in the Sydney harbor, the Naoetsu prison camp in Japan, where POWs were forced to unload coal from barges. Those latter scenes are the most monochromatic. “We looked at a lot of Bill Brown’s photographs of Welsh coal miners,” Deakins says. “That’s what we were after.”

Whether its was Zamperini jostling for position on the track or encountering flak in a B-24 bomber, Deakins and Jolie strove for intimacy. “We wanted to be in there, tracking the character,” Deakins explains, “and see the experiences from the character’s point of view.”