Every new film from Paul Thomas Anderson invariably gets nominated for Academy Awards, because every film Paul Thomas Anderson is really that good. But this year, the director’s latest film – Phantom Thread which opens Christmas Day – will not be eligible for consideration in one category for this year’s Oscars contest.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly the director stated that because of the circumstances surrounding the shooting of his latest film, Phantom Thread would not be eligible for consideration in the Best Cinematography category. And that’s because the film does not carry a credit for a Director of Photography.
As Anderson tells it, the job was actually performed by a variety of people over the course of the shoot, himself included. This unusual situation came about when Robert Elswit – who has served as the DoP for a majority of Anderson’s films including Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice – was unavailable.
The people I would normally work with were unavailable, and it just became a situation where we collaborated — really in the best sense of the word — as a team. I know how to point the camera in a good direction, and I know a few things. But I’m not a director of photography…
If you can give credit, Michael Bauman is the gaffer that I’ve worked with for many, many years on a lot of projects. I could veto Mike, I guess, but he held a lot of the keys. There was a camera operator, Colin Anderson, I’ve worked with, and Erik Brown, who was the first assistant cameraman and Jeff Kunkel, who was a grip. It was a real package like that. It was a really easy way of working. You have to be very, very careful because there are way too many good cinematographers that I would not put myself in that class for a second.
It is an interesting choice for Anderson to have shot the film this way. But then again Anderson’s career and films have always been filled with interesting choices. Will this one pay off as so many others have for him in the past?