James Laxton
Alma materFlorida State University (BFA)
OccupationCinematographer
Years active2003–present
ParentAggie Guerard Rodgers (mother)[1]

James Laxton is an American cinematographer who is best known for his collaborations with filmmaker Barry Jenkins, specifically his work on Jenkins' 2016 film Moonlight, for which he won an Independent Spirit Award and received an Academy Award nomination.[2][3]

Laxton began his career at Florida State University, where he met Jenkins. They collaborated on numerous films, including the critically acclaimed 2016 film Moonlight. After graduating, Laxton entered the industry by assisting the camera department on features and shorts, including projects from directors such as David Nordstrom, David Parker, and Cole Schreiber.

In childhood, Laxton accompanied his mother, a noted costume designer, to film sets. He reported being inspired by the rhythm of chaos and calm on the movie set, which played a significant role in his decision to enter the industry.[4]

Feature films

Moonlight

Laxton's most critically acclaimed credit is the 2016 film Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins. The film explores themes of sexuality in a harsh urban environment. A relatively low budget of 1.5 million dollars[5] forced Laxton to forgo equipment such as underwater camera gear and search for innovative cinematographic solutions.[6]

If Beale Street Could Talk

This 2018 film was also a Jenkins collaboration. The film features a tragic love story set in 1970s New York City, between Clementine "Tish" Rivers (played by KiKi Layne) and wood artist Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt (played by Stephan James). The two struggle against racism, sexual harassment and assault, and a false rape accusation. The film is based on a novel by James Baldwin, and uses a non-linear structure.

In discussing the success of the movie, which has been described as "trading docu-realism for crafted visual poetry of the highest level,"[7] Laxton and Jenkins accredited their years-long process of conversation and collaboration.

Filmography

Short film

Year Title Director
2003 My Josephine Barry Jenkins
Little Brown Boy
2005 The Unseen Kind-Hearted Beast Amy Seimetz
2009 A Young Couple Barry Jenkins
2010 Eggshells for Soil Megan Boone
2012 Rest Cole Schreiber
Mission Chinese David Parker
Cole Schreiber
2013 Fête des Pets Nicholas Jasenovec
Sarah Silverman's Perfect Night Liam Lynch
2014 Lemonade War Ramin Bahrani
2015 Welcome to the Last Bookstore Chad Howitt
2016 Bernie Sanders Is the One for Me Andrew Deyoung
2019 Squarespace: Dream It Spike Jonze
2021 Reebok's Reconnect Jonas Lindstroem

Feature film

Year Title Director Notes
2008 Medicine for Melancholy Barry Jenkins
2010 The Violent Kind The Butcher Brothers
The Myth of the American Sleepover David Robert Mitchell
Karma Adivi Sesh
2010 The Last Buffalo Hunt Lee Anne Schmitt
Sawdust City David Nordstrom
2012 California Solo Marshall Lewy
For a Good Time, Call... Jamie Travis
Leave Me Like You Found Me Adele Romanski
The Murder of Hi Good Lee Lynch
2013 Bad Milo Jacob Vaughan
The Moment Jane Weinstock
Dealin' with Idiots Jeff Garlin
Adult World Scott Coffey
Tradition Is a Temple:
The Modern Masters of New Orleans
Darren Hoffman
2014 Camp X-Ray Peter Sattler
Tusk Kevin Smith
2016 Yoga Hosers
Holidays Nicholas McCarthy Segment – "Easter", also with Bridger Nielson and Shaheen Seth
The Black Jacket Ryan Simon
Moonlight Barry Jenkins
Youth Brett Marty
2017 Anything Timothy McNeil
2018 If Beale Street Could Talk Barry Jenkins
2024 Mufasa: The Lion King Filming

Television

Year Title Director Notes
2011 Futurestates Barry Jenkins 1 episode – Remigration
2013 You and Your Fucking Coffee Henry Phillips 2 episodes
2014 Rubberhead Dean Fleischer-Camp TV movie (segment – "Knickers")
2016 Garfunkel and Oates:
Trying to Be Special
Jeremy Konner
Riki Lindhome
TV movie
2018 Here and Now Alan Ball Episode: "Eleven Eleven"
2019 Black Monday Evan Goldberg
Seth Rogen
Episode: "365"
2021 The Underground Railroad Barry Jenkins Miniseries

Awards and nominations

Year Title Awards/Nominations
2008 Medicine for Melancholy Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
2016 Moonlight Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography[8]
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – ASC Award for Outstanding Cinematography
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography
2018 If Beale Street Could Talk Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography

References

  1. ^ "Producer's Corner: Adele Romanski — The Myth of the American Sleepover by Serena Donadoni". Women and Hollywood. July 25, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2022.
  2. ^ "A One-Camera Show: DP James Laxton on Moonlight". filmmakermagazine.com. 18 November 2016.
  3. ^ Pressberg, Matt (24 January 2017). "Oscar Nominee Reactions: Meryl Streep Sends GIF, Jeff Bridges Says 'Woo Hoo!'". www.thewrap.com. The Wrap. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  4. ^ Friedman, Illya. "James Laxton, ASC on Best Picture winner Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk: working with Barry Jenkins and Kevin Smith, his early career and influences." The Cinematography Podcast, Hot Rod Cameras/Spotify, 01-08-2020, https://open.spotify.com/episode/4IM2SrtOAFpblygqBx6Kke.
  5. ^ Moonlight, retrieved 2020-04-12
  6. ^ "James Laxton, ASC on Best Picture winner Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk: working with Barry Jenkins and Kevin Smith, his early career and influences". Google Podcasts. The Cinematography Podcast. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  7. ^ O'Falt, Chris (2019-01-09). "If James Baldwin Made Films: How DP James Laxton Translated the Bold Imagery of 'Beale Street'". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  8. ^ "Huppert, 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land' Honored by NYFCC and LAFCA". Backstage.com. Retrieved 2017-01-27.