Cinematography is the art of using light to create images in film and television. It is a complex and demanding art form that requires a deep understanding of light, color, composition, and movement. The best cinematography can transport the viewer to another world, evoke strong emotions, and tell a story in a visually stunning way.
There are many films that are considered to have great cinematography. Some of the most famous examples include:
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962): This epic film about the British military officer T.E. Lawrence is considered to be one of the most visually stunning films ever made. The cinematography captures the vastness of the desert and the beauty of the Middle East.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): This science fiction film by Stanley Kubrick is known for its groundbreaking use of special effects and its stunning visuals. The cinematography creates a sense of awe and wonder as the film explores the vastness of space.
- Barry Lyndon (1975): This historical drama by Stanley Kubrick is set in the 18th century and is known for its meticulous attention to detail. The cinematography uses natural light to create a lush and atmospheric look.
- Days of Heaven (1978): This romantic drama by Terrence Malick is set in the early 20th century and features stunning cinematography. The film’s use of natural light and its painterly compositions create a timeless and evocative look.
- The Revenant (2015): This survival film by Alejandro González Iñárritu is known for its stunning visuals and its use of natural light. The cinematography captures the beauty of the wilderness and the harshness of the environment.
These are just a few examples of films that are considered to have great cinematography. There are many other films that could be included on this list. Ultimately, the best cinematography is the cinematography that tells the story in the most effective way and that evokes the strongest emotional response from the viewer.
Here are 20 reasons why the movies listed are nominated to be the best cinematography of all time:
- They have visually stunning shots that enhance the overall appeal of the movie.
- They use cinematography to add depth and meaning to the story.
- They create a unique atmosphere and tone through the use of lighting, composition, and visual effects.
- They showcase the talent of the cinematographer and their ability to capture the beauty of a location or setting.
- They are memorable and leave a lasting impression on the viewer.
- They inspire creativity and imagination in the viewer.
- They provide a new perspective on a familiar story.
- They evoke emotions and feelings in the viewer through the use of cinematography.
- They are works of art in their own right.
- They showcase the latest technology and techniques in filmmaking.
- They are a way to appreciate the craft of filmmaking.
- They are a way to learn about different cultures and traditions.
- They are a way to escape reality and enter a different world.
- They challenge the viewer’s perceptions and beliefs.
- They are a way to connect with others who share a love of cinema.
- They explore different genres and styles of filmmaking.
- They showcase the hard work and dedication of the cast and crew.
- They are fun and enjoyable to watch.
- They have won critical acclaim and recognition from various award-giving bodies.
- They stand the test of time and continue to be appreciated by audiences and critics alike.
Here are 20 movies with the best cinematography of all time, according to various sources:
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 2
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 2
- Apocalypse Now (1979) 2
- 12 Angry Men (1957) 2
- Citizen Kane (1941) 5
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) 5
- Dunkirk (2017) 4
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) 6
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) 4
- The Dark Knight (2008) 1
- The Shining (1980) 2
- Moonlight (2016) 34
- There Will Be Blood (2007) 4
- Saving Private Ryan (1998) 5
- The Florida Project (2017) 6
- The Master (2012) 6
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) 6
- Macbeth (2015) 6
- Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) 3
- Gone With The Wind (1939) 3
Here are 20 reasons why you should watch movies with the best cinematography:
- Cinematography can enhance the visual appeal of a movie.
- It can add depth and meaning to the story.
- It can create a unique atmosphere and tone.
- It can capture the beauty of a location or setting.
- It can showcase the talent of the cinematographer.
- It can make a movie more memorable.
- It can inspire creativity and imagination.
- It can provide a new perspective on a familiar story.
- It can evoke emotions and feelings in the viewer.
- It can be a work of art in its own right.
- It can be a source of inspiration for aspiring filmmakers.
- It can showcase the latest technology and techniques in filmmaking.
- It can be a way to appreciate the craft of filmmaking.
- It can be a way to learn about different cultures and traditions.
- It can be a way to escape reality and enter a different world.
- It can be a way to challenge your perceptions and beliefs.
- It can be a way to connect with others who share your love of cinema.
- It can be a way to explore different genres and styles of filmmaking.
- It can be a way to appreciate the hard work and dedication of the cast and crew.
- It can be a way to have fun and enjoy the magic of the movies.
Who is the best cinematographer in the world?
Many would argue that Roger Deakins is the best cinematographer working today. With a career spanning over 40 years, Deakins has worked on acclaimed films like The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, and Blade Runner 2049. He is known for his ability to create stunning visuals and set the tone and mood of a film. Deakins has received 15 Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, making him the most nominated living cinematographer. Though he has yet to win the award, his peers and critics widely consider him one of the best in the industry.
What films have great cinematography?
Some films noted for their excellent cinematography include Lawrence of Arabia, with its sweeping desert landscapes, Blade Runner, with its moody sci-fi noir lighting, The Revenant, with its immersive natural lighting, and Roma, a recent critical darling shot in stark black and white.
Many Christopher Nolan films like Inception and The Dark Knight also utilize innovative cinematography to create their intense, gripping style. Classic films from Orson Welles and Sergei Eisenstein also demonstrate how cinematography can be used in groundbreaking ways. Ultimately, great cinematography helps tell the visual story, from the grand epics to intimate character studies.
What makes the best cinematography?
The best cinematography uses visual elements like lighting, framing, camera movement, and shot composition to create images that serve the storytelling. Great cinematographers understand how to sculpt the look of each scene through choices like lens type, camera angles, and blocking.
Technical skills in operating cameras are important, but cinematography is really about the artistry of each shot and how they come together to communicate mood, emotions, and narrative. The best cinematographers collaborate closely with the director to fulfill their vision and apply cinema language in creative ways. They use techniques skillfully but don’t let style overshadow the human aspects of the story.
What movie has the best lighting?
Many films could make a claim for best lighting, but one standout is The Godfather. Cinematographer Gordon Willis used unconventional low-key, high-contrast lighting to create the signature look of the film. Deep shadows, silhouettes, and shafts of light evoked the tones of a Rembrandt painting and the corrupt, brooding world of the mafia family.
Willis rejected traditional Hollywood lighting as “fakey” and instead used naturalistic lighting that relied on practical light sources visible in the frame. This heightened the authentic, dramatic atmosphere that helped make The Godfather an all-time cinematic achievement with some of the most memorable lighting in film.
Who is the father of cinematography?
The “Father of Cinematography” is often cited as French inventor Louis Le Prince. In 1888, he shot the first motion picture sequences using a single lens camera and Eastman Kodak paper film. Though Le Prince’s footage no longer survives, his pioneering work is considered a foundation of cinematography.
Other key early contributors to the development of cinematography include the Lumiere brothers, pioneers of projection, and George Albert Smith, who explored innovative uses of editing and close ups. While technology has evolved, these innovators established cinematography as a new art form that could capture motion and tell visual stories on film.
Who is the most successful filmmaker?
Many would consider Steven Spielberg to be the most successful filmmaker. He has directed over 30 films, including some of the highest grossing movies of all time like E.T., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jurassic Park. He has won 3 Academy Awards for Best Director and has been nominated 9 times. Spielberg has shown mastery of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters as well as serious dramas – the diversity of films like Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, and West Side Story cement him as one of the most prolific, decorated, and financially successful directors ever. He has influenced generations of filmmakers with technical skill and emotional storytelling. While there are many iconic directors, few can match Spielberg’s career of critical and commercial hits.
What is a best boy in cinematography?
In cinematography, the best boy is an important position on the electrical team, working as an assistant to the gaffer. Some of their duties include setting up lighting equipment, arranging electrical power distribution, maintaining lights, changing lamps, moving gear, and additional support tasks needed by the gaffer during production.
Though called ‘best boy’, the position can be filled by any gender – it’s a historical term for the gaffer’s most skilled team member. Best boys require technical expertise and problem-solving skills to meet the complex lighting challenges of a shoot. The best boy handles crucial responsibilities that help the cinematographer and gaffer achieve the desired lighting looks for filming.
Who earns more director or cinematographer?
Typically, the director earns more than the cinematographer on a film production. As the primary creative visionary and lead of the project, the director usually has the highest salary on set. Their pay can be millions on major studio films. The cinematographer has a specialized, important creative role, but acts in service of fulfilling the director’s vision.
Their pay is still substantial, commonly in the hundreds of thousands. On smaller indie films, the income gap between director and cinematographer may be less drastic. There are rare cases where an established celebrity cinematographer can negotiate a salary on par with or exceeding some directors, but typically directors’ salaries remain higher at all budget levels. However, both director and cinematographer incomes can vary widely based on experience, reputation, and nature of the project.
Is cinematographer and cameraman same?
The terms cinematographer and cameraman are related but refer to slightly different roles. The cinematographer, often called the director of photography (DP), is the head of the camera and lighting crew. They are responsible for the overall visual look and style of the film’s camerawork and lighting design. The cameraman or camera operator is a member of the camera crew under the lead cinematographer.
They physically operate the camera equipment and execute the cinematographer’s shots. On smaller crews the cinematographer may operate the camera themselves. But on most professional productions the cinematographer is a separate, higher level leadership role overseeing a team of camera crew including camera operators. Both jobs are critical to translating the director’s vision to the screen through skilled camerawork.
What is the difference between videography and cinematography?
The main difference between videography and cinematography is the context and purpose of the camerawork. Videography refers to capturing video for documentary, events, journalism, or corporate uses – real world footage of actual happenings. Cinematography involves creating visuals to tell fictional or artistic stories and craft illusions for entertainment.
Cinematography developed specific techniques like shot composition, camera movement, blocking, lighting, and lenses to advance visual storytelling, while videography has a more utilitarian purpose of recording live action.
There are technical differences as well – videography traditionally uses TV or digital video cameras while cinematography cameras capture higher resolution film stock or digital formats approximating film’s look. The principles of good camerawork overlap, but at their core videography documents while cinematography creates visual fiction.
What is the best lighting for watching TV?
The best lighting for watching TV is indirect, diffuse light that doesn’t cause distracting glare on the screen or reflections. Having a soft ambient light source behind the screen, like a floor lamp or diffuse overhead light, illuminates the room while minimizing contrast issues. Table and floor lamps to the side of the TV also work well.
Some general guidelines: opt for softer light bulbs at lower wattages, avoid fixtures directly above or behind the TV, use opaque lampshades to diffuse glare, position lights off to the side, and dimmers switches to control brightness. The ideal is enough soft, warm lighting to comfortably see the room without competing with the TV’s picture. This prevents straining your eyes to see in the dark and allows you to find items and safely move around the room during viewing.
What is hard lighting in movies?
In cinematography, hard lighting refers to a style using harsh, direct lighting sources that create dark, clearly defined shadows and high contrast in the image. This is often created by undiffused spotlights or by aiming a powerful light source from the side, allowing part of the subject to fall into shadow. Hard lights are considered less flattering for actors but can be used very expressively.
The film noir era featured hard lighting with dark shadows. Modern movies may use hard lights sparingly to add dramatic highlights or silhouette elements of a scene. When taken to the extreme, hard lighting becomes the low-key chiaroscuro look like in The Godfather. So hard lighting amplifies contrast, shadows, and textured visuals – useful when the cinematographer wants a dramatic, mysterious, or threatening mood rather than a soft look.
What Colour light is best for movies?
In cinema, there is no single best color of light – it depends on the desired look, mood, and motivations of each scene. Some common color choices:
- Warm tungsten or orange/red hues feel naturalistic, flattering for skin, and evoke warmth or nostalgia.
- Cold blue tones feel ominous, clinical, supernatural, or moonlit.
- Green can feel eerie, toxic, supernatural or suggest night vision or surveillance media.
- Purple can feel regal, romantic, or mysterious.
- Neutral white balances allow truest color renditions.
- Stylized palettes limit colors to establish tone.
Great cinematographers artfully incorporate symbolic color, color contrast between scenes, and shape light quality to support the storytelling. While any color can be cinematically effective in the right context, the choice ultimately depends on serving the creative needs of each unique film.
What is the most common type of lighting in cinematography?
The most common type of lighting used in cinematography is three-point lighting. Developed for the studio system, three-point lighting provides a balanced, naturalistic look suitable for dialog scenes. It consists of:
- Key Light: The brightest, main light on the subject creating the primary illumination.
- Fill Light: A soft light from the opposite side that fills in some shadows created by the key.
- Back Light: Behind the subject, this highlights edges and separates them from the background.
Together, this simulated lighting we experience in real life. Additional lights can supplement these main three. Using hard or diffused variations produces different effects. Simple but versatile, three-point lighting remains the standard model for basic coverage lighting, adapted into more complex setups when needed. It provides a foundation before introducing expressionistic lighting. For lighting human subjects, three-point lighting delivers flattering results rooted in naturalism.
Why is cinematography important?
Cinematography is a crucial cinematic artform that’s important because it brings the director’s vision to life visually. Good cinematography can elevate a film by:
- Setting the mood, atmosphere and emotional tone using lighting, color palettes, and framing choices.
- Supporting storytelling by guiding the viewer’s eye to points of narrative importance within the frame.
- Communicating meaning through symbolic imagery and composition.
- Influencing subtext and audience reactions with subjective or literal camera perspectives.
- Capturing actors’ nuanced expressions and performances.
- Immersing audiences in imaginative worlds with captivating visuals.
- Advancing innovative techniques that expand the expressive possibilities of movies.
Cinematography crucially shapes how we perceive every moment and detail of a film. Master cinematographers collaborate to translate stories powerfully from page to screen through the sophistication of their craft. Even in unseen ways, good cinematography brings coherence, artistry, meaning, emotions and control of pacing – enhancing movies immeasurably.
In conclusion, there is no one definitive answer to the question of what film has the best cinematography of all time. However, the films listed above are all considered to be masterpieces of cinematography for their ability to transport the viewer to another world, evoke strong emotions, and tell a story in a visually stunning way.
Ultimately, the best cinematography is the cinematography that tells the story in the most effective way and that evokes the strongest emotional response from the viewer. The films listed above all do this in different ways, but they all share a common goal: to create a visually stunning film that will stay with the viewer long after they have seen it.
Here are some other factors that can contribute to great cinematography:
- The use of natural light
- The use of color
- The composition of shots
- The movement of the camera
- The relationship between the cinematography and the story
The best cinematographers are able to use all of these elements to create images that are both beautiful and meaningful. They are able to tell a story through their images, and they are able to evoke strong emotions in the viewer.
If you are interested in learning more about cinematography, I recommend reading books and articles by cinematographers, watching films with great cinematography, and taking a cinematography class. With a little effort, you can learn to appreciate the art of cinematography and see how it can enhance your enjoyment of films. Consider reading >>> Taxi Driver Cinematography Analysis. to learn more.