Posted by: ckckred | May 26, 2014

What Movie Do You Think Has The Best Cinematography?

After the tragic passing of Gordon Willis last week, I looked back on some of the highlights of his career, which include The Godfather and Annie Hall.  This got me thinking about cinematography in general and some of the best examples in cinema.

Willis’ work in The Godfather trilogy can’t be ignored for its incredible use of lighting.  Vittorio Storaro also created some of the best camerawork there was in Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola surely hired fantastic cinematographers).  Gregg Toland’s photography on Citizen Kane was a game changer and utilized some revolutionary techniques.

But what movies do you think have the best cinematography?



  1. Néstor Almendros work on Days of Heaven comes to mind. So does John Toll’s for The Thin Red Line. Also I can’t leave out Tak Fujimoto, Steve Larner and Brian Probyn’s for Badlands. Yes, I am aware they are all Malick films. I just believe he’s made so beautiful movies over the years.

    • Malick’s films all have stunning cinematography, in particular The Thin Red Line. He really has an eye for imagery.

  2. All of Kubricks movies, I can’t decide one which is better among them…

    • I would say Barry Lyndon has the best camerawork of Kubrick’s films, but all have amazing cinematography.

  3. Black Narcissus – Jack Cardiff is a genius.

    • I will concur on the genius part here. A great choice. Still pondering if it is the best, but it is better than most of the ones i see mentioned here.

    • I really should see that.

  4. Roger Deakins cinematography in The Assassination of Jesse James and No Country for Old Men are among my favourites.

    • Deakins has always done great camerawork. When will he win an Oscar?

  5. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the amazing cinematography of A Single Man, by Eduard Grau. It’s simply beautiful but it also reflects such depth. I also love the frenetic energy of Benoit Debie’s work in Enter The Void and Spring Breakers!

  6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly struck me first as I pondered the question. A lot from Bergman’s films should be up there. Ellen Curas for Eternal Sunshine. Robert Krasker’s The Third Man. Michael Chapman and Robert Burke’s work. Man, so much! 🙂

    • The Third Man’s a great choice. The stark black and white cinematography really does help the movie.

  7. There are many good choices here, but I think I’ll go with Raging Bull. Those fight scenes are amazing; how they mess with the speed and the lighting is great too. It was shot by Michael Chapman, who also shot Taxi Driver. Incidentally, he was also a camera operator on The Godfather.

    • Raging Bull’s an excellent pick. The lighting in that picture is pretty great.

  8. Easy! Barry Lyndon. Kubrick’s ability to film in candlelight is still mind-blowing.

    • Barry Lyndon has some of the most revolutionary cinematography there is. The candlelight scenes are a spectacle to watch.

  9. Would have to say The Godfather and Black Narcissus.

  10. Ben-Hur is undoubtedly the king of cinematography, probably followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey or Barry Lyndon, then maybe Lawrence of Arabia.

    • I never liked Ben-Hur (it’s too slow for me), but the cinematography is great.

  11. Freddie Young’s incredible work with Lawrence of Arabia.

  12. “Snake Eyes” with Nicolas Cage and “Vantage Point” with Dennis Quaid. I love how the camera shows the storyline from different characters’ points of view.

  13. I think Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki have produced superb work in recent years. Going back a bit further I also really like the work of César Charlone on City Of God, plus Néstor Almendros on Days Of Heaven, Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice. Also there’s all of Robert Elswit’s films with Paul Thomas Anderson – but there are many good comments above and I could easily have picked a lot of those examples!

    Willis was very talented. This is probably an obvious choice, but my favourite three or four minutes of his…

    • The Manhattan opening is my favorite scene in the movie. Also, great shout out to Robert Elswit. There Will Be Blood features some amazing imagery.

  14. Days of Heaven. Pure and simple.

    • Malick’s a master in imagery. Days of Heaven’s one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen.

  15. Probably The Godfather series or Dances With Wolves. There are so many that have great cinematography.

  16. So many of Kubrick’s films are up there for me, especially Full Metal Jacket and Barry Lyndon. Also love Deakins’ cinematography on Jesse James.

  17. Schindler’s List features some incredible black-and-white cinematography. And to contrast this against that girl in the red is a stroke of genius.

    • That scene is really something. The use of color is quite extraordinary.

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