BAFTA-nominated cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema has been turning heads ever since his stunning work in the stylish Swedish horror film “Let the Right One In” crossed the Atlantic six years ago. And lately, he's just getting all the good gigs, having stepped in for Spike Jonze regular Lance Acord on last year's “Her” and for Christopher Nolan's right hand man Wally Pfister on the upcoming “Interstellar.” Well, you can add another big pair of shoes for the talented director of photography to fill. With Roger Deakins exiting the James Bond franchise after 2012's “Skyfall,” we can confirm that director Sam Mendes has tapped van Hoytema to shoot the still untitled 24th installment of the series.
Deakins won the ASC prize for “Skyfall” two years ago, but as is often the story, he watched someone else take the Oscar (in this case, Claudio Miranda for “Life of Pi,” which is equally exceptional work for completely different reasons). I actually just watched the film again recently and the photography in that thing just sings. It was a true showcase for what's possible with digital and belongs on any list of Deakins' best output. Which brings me to this…
I can't confirm it but I've heard that the Bond series will also be going back to film with this installment. Van Hoytema obviously shot “Interstellar” on film, given that Nolan remains one of the most outspoken worshippers of celluloid there is, as well as “Tinker Tailor.” “Her,” however, was filmed digitally via the Arri Alexa. All of that just goes to show that he knows how to give you an arresting image whatever the medium, so if the new Bond indeed goes back to analog, so be it. I'm sure it will be beautiful.
When I casually dropped that Deakins wouldn't be returning for another 007 stint back in February, I didn't expect it to be the Tweet heard 'round the world, but it was picked up all over the place. People were bummed, probably because the work done on that film was so extraordinary and added such an edge of panache to a brand that really needed it (as odd as that is to say about Bond). But they can relax because this is probably the best possible fit there is.
And Mendes sure knows how to pick 'em, eh? Outside of a brief stint with Ellen Kuras on 2009's “Away We Go,” the director has only collaborated with the late, great Conrad L. Hall (Oscar winner for “American Beauty” and “Road to Perdition”) and Deakins thus far in his feature career. Van Hoytema is easily one of the most exciting DPs in the game today, so bravo. He remains without an Oscar nod but BAFTA and ASC gave him some “Tinker Tailor” love. And he'll likely crack that nut finally with “Interstellar” anyway.
We've been admirers around here from day one, though. You might recall van Hoytema landed at the top of our annual “top 10 shots of the year” list for a jaw-dropping image from “Right One” in 2008. He's shown up twice more besides (in 2011 for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and again in 2013 for “Her”). If I had to wager a guess I'd say that later this year he has a great shot (no pun intended) at becoming only the second DP to land images from four different projects on the list.
The only other person to do that? Roger Deakins.
“Bond 24,” if you will, is currently being scouted overseas. Production is expected to start in December.