Friday, March 04, 2005


Best Cinematography?

Jen has a good list up of her favorites-- movies like Blade Runner, Legends of the Fall, and Saving Private Ryan-- all of which are favorites of mine as well in this category.

If I may, I would suggest a few additional films for inclusion in this category:

-- The Empire Strikes Back. Yup, most of the cinematography is actually fake. But to this day, this is still not only the best Star Wars film, it's the best-looking Star Wars film as well. Every frame of film is incredibly textured in the movie. To prove it, look at any scene involving the interior of the Millenium Falcon, and then compare to the original Star Wars. Just the difference in film stock and lighting alone makes the ship into that much more of a character in the sequel.

-- Dances With Wolves, Field of Dreams, and Open Range. Like his movies or hate them, Kevin Costner knows how to make his movies look perfect.

-- The Thin Red Line. I didn't really like this movie all that much when it came out in the theater-- comparing it to the contemporary Saving Private Ryan was unavoidable-- but to this day, the movie, like all of Terrence Malick's movies (see Badlands) was gorgeous.

Speaking of Malick, I'm looking forward to The New World just on account of the sure-to-be-beautiful cinematography.

-- Most of Steven Spielberg's movies. Not all, of course, but many of his films are wonderfully shot. The Orca at sea in Jaws. The alien mothership departing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. An uncomfortably alone E.T. walking through a forest of giant redwood trees. The stark black & white of Schindler's List (with credit to Janusz Kaminski). Spielberg knows how to film a beautiful movie better than anyone since Orson Welles.

-- Gettysburg. This is one of those films where the cinematography was merely good enough, but the sights were compelling. Over 10,000 Civil War reenactors marching in Pickett's Charge makes for a riveting scene no matter how you film it.

-- Laurence of Arabia. Really, no comments necessary.

-- The films of Michael Mann. Last of the Mohicans. To Live And Die In L.A. Heat. Collateral. I don't know if he learned it on Miami Vice, or whether he was born with it, but whatever it is, Mann is a true artist.

-- The people who did Winged Migration. If you haven't seen this documentary, you simply must. One of the most amazing nature films I've ever seen, it's a shame if you missed it on a big movie screen.

Of course Dave will curse me for this, but Luc Besson really knows how to make a movie pudy! While you might think that the fifth element is a horrible piece of derivative trash, it is a beautifully filmed, horrible piece of trash. Also, the Professional is another beautifully photographed movie.

Also, to be fair, every Ridley Scott movie ever made is nearly a perfect 10 for cinematography. Watch "Someone to Watch Over Me" which is probably Ridley's worst plot movie, but it is still georgeous to look at. Add to that the beautiful film of "Thelma and Louise" "Gladiator" and "1492" and you quickly come to the conclusion that Ridley is probably the greatest cinematographer ever.
No Angus, I won't curse you. You're right on both accounts.
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