I’ve just learned about a notable Jewish Oscar nominee not in my recent coverage: Rachel Morrison, 39, the first woman in Oscar history to be nominated as best cinematographer, for “Mudbound.” She is almost a cinch for another Oscar nomination next year as director of photography for this year’s mega-hit “Black Panther.
It took 11 indie films before Morrison was given a chance as cinematographer on a studio movie. Men typically have gotten a studio gig after two or three good indie films, she said, but women are catching up. Morrison’s breakthrough was “Fruitvale Station” (2013), a hit indie film set in Oakland and directed by Ryan Coogler. Coogler had another hit with “Creed” and had the “juice” to make “Black Panther” and to hire Morrison to shoot a big-budget, comic-based spectacular. Morrison is the first woman to be the director of photography on a Marvel film.
Time magazine published a very good first-person piece by her that includes a brief video with family pictures. Morrison didn’t have an easy childhood. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Rachel was 4 and died when she was 15. Morrison told Time that she turned to photography and home movies to capture her childhood’s fleeting happy moments and freeze them in time.