The new nominees

Four first-time Oscar competitors show humility in the heat of the campaign.

Matthew Libatique, director of photography, Black Swan

When you were filming Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis having ballerina sex, did you ever think you'd be up for the big prize?
Absolutely not. The work was effortless this time with Darren [Aronofsky, director and longtime collaborator]. I think that makes my nomination a hundred times more gratifying.

Do young cinematographers dream of Oscars?
I used to equate them with the Grammys! [Laughs] Cool bands never won. But as I got into cinematography, I realized that this wasn't the case.

And are you entertaining thoughts of winning?
I've spent the last ten years convincing myself that awards didn't matter. So this thing has hit me like a two-by-four. As time has gone on, I've realized that Oscars aren't the goal.

What is the goal?
The goal is to become a better filmmaker—and to be in the canon of cinematographers, when all is said and done.