Roger Deakins on Oscar Nomination for ‘Empire of Light’

Roger Deakins has landed his 16th Oscar nomination for best cinematography for “Empire of Light.” “I’m glad to be there representing the movie and all the people that put so much effort into it,” Deakins said speaking with WmLeader.

The legendary cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner scored the only Oscar nomination for the film, which marked his fifth time working with director Sam Mendes. “It’s for everybody,” he says of the recognition. “The look of the film is created by the production designer, the wardrobe, costume and actors. It’s so hard to separate all the amazing elements.”

“Empire of Light” is a simple story following Olivia Colman’s Hilary as the manager of the Empire cinema, a place that’s fallen far from its former glory. Its upstairs theater is in decay with pigeons feeding around. Downstairs, locals show up to catch the latest film releases such as “Stir Crazy” and “Chariots of Fire.”

Coleman’s Hilary leads a lonely life and touches on issues of mental health. “The whole thing about the movies in the film is that it’s a way to connect with something more than your own small world — and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I mean that Hilary is a character who lives in this seaside town without a great horizon,” Deakins says of the film’s setting in early ’80s Britain, amid Margaret Thatcher’s prime ministership and rising racial tensions.

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Deakins continues, “I think the film is about companionship. She has this world with her fellow workers in the movie theater, but that sort of friendship and the small things, watching the films that just bring something more into her life.”

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