Revisiting The Batman’s Cinematography And Score Amid Fans’ Displeasure Over Oscar Snub

by Abhirup Sengupta
Image: HBO Max, Warner Bros. Discovery

Following the 2023 Oscar nominations announcement, The Batman fans were yet again disappointed when The Academy did not acknowledge Greig Fraser’s cinematography. To add insult to the injury, The Batman was also snubbed in the category of Best Original Soundtrack, where Michael Giacchino’s score was not even shortlisted for the award. 

While a possible win in such categories for The Batman is debatable, the majority of fans believe that the 2022 film should have at least been nominated for cinematography and score. Interestingly, Matt Reeves’ take on the caped crusader did receive a nomination for Best Sound, along with two other nods. The fan-favorite Warner Bros. Discovery entry also received nominations for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, and Visual Effects.

Why The Batman’s Cinematography And Score Deserved Oscar Nominations?

It is disheartening to see Michael Giacchino’s score and Greg Fraser’s cinematography not being considered for the Oscars and Golden Globes in 2023. Furthermore, it is rather surprising that The Batman merely got three Oscar noms while receiving zero nods from the Golden Globe Awards. This is precisely why a legion of shocked fans voiced their displeasure with the snubs.

Michael Giacchino’s Score

While Giacchino’s score for The Batman was nominated for Saturn Awards, Critics Choice Awards, and even the Grammys, the Oscar-winning composer did not win any major awards for his contribution. Despite the lack of meaningful nominations, the Werewolf by Night director did deserve nods from The Academy and The Golden Globes.

Unlike most recent superhero films, The Batman‘s sound was particularly memorable, and Warner Bros. Discovery also acknowledged its quality. This was attested by the film’s marketing utilizing the score in all promotional footage. Giacchino’s score masterfully portrayed the various elements of the movie as well as the characters’ vibes.

Additionally, the 55-year-old composer brought out the eerie division between Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne and Batman. While the slow piano connected with Bruce’s melancholia, Selina Kyle’s mysterious and amorous play, and Riddler’s obsession with suspense, the crescendos filled with strings and brass brought out the higher stakes involved.

Giacchino, who won an Oscar for his work on 2009’s Up, did not shy away from paying homage to his counterparts like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman from prior Batman films. Furthermore, the score perfectly encapsulated Bruce’s developing moral compass and understanding of Gotham and its inhabitants by the film’s end. This was masterfully showcased in the film’s credit sequence, where Giacchino’s Sonata in Darkness was used.

This article will not dive into the merits of the other nominations in this category. However, it is hard not to wonder if Michael Giacchino’s score for The Batman was unable to surpass the nominated works of Volker Bertelmann (All Quiet on the Western Front), Justin Hurwitz (Babylon), Carter Burwell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Son Lux (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and John Williams (The Fabelmans).

Greig Fraser’s Cinematography

Unlike Michael Giacchino’s score, Fraser was shortlisted by The Academy for a potential nomination in the category of Best Cinematography. However, the 47-year-old cinematographer’s work for The Batman did not make it to the nominated list, amongst his peers like Darius Khondji (Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths), Mandy Walker (Elvis), Roger Deakins (Empire Of Light), Florian Hoffmeister (TÁR), James Friend (All Quiet on the Western Front).

Greig Fraser, who took home the Oscar for Best Cinematography last year for his work on Dune, brought a rather eerie and melancholic look to Matt Reeves’ The Batman and the city of Gotham. Utilizing a dominating color palette of red and black, Fraser painted a darker neo-noir take on the film as compared to the previous Batman films.

The Australian cinematographer shot the film mostly through Arri’s anamorphic lenses that gave The Batman a distinct look compared to recent comic book films. Additionally, the use of the volume set, and POV shots, combined with the colors and the anamorphic lenses used to give the digitally shot film a certain grittiness, made The Batman one of the most visually remarkable movies in the last decade. With The Batman being one of the few films to utilize shots filmed in a virtual set, it remains to be seen if other films using the volume would receive Oscar nominations in the future.

In certain scenes featuring the caped crusader, the vibrant red tones in the lighting made him easily visible compared to prior Batman films, where some viewers complained of the movie being darkly lit. Additionally, the scene of Batman against Falcone’s goons in a hallway was particularly noteworthy as the dark knight was solely lit with the help of muzzle flashes from the goons’ guns.

Therefore it is truly a shame that The Batman did not receive an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography despite its unique take on a neo-noir action-thriller. While the film did not win any major awards for cinematography, Greig Fraser was nominated for a BAFTA for his work.

The Batman Oscar snubs in these categories are particularly perplexing, especially after The Dark Knight‘s win in the cinematography category, followed by the best score wins of Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther) and Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker).

- This article was updated on January 30th, 2023