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Favorite Cinematography of 2006


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 02:21 AM

Note that I said "favorite" not "best"...

There was a lot I missed in 2006, and many important films I have yet to see so I may revise this very soon, so this is a first draft, so to speak.

First of all, here is a list of potentially great-looking movies that I didn't see, or haven't gotten to yet (but the trailers suggested that they might have some nice cinematography). In my defense, I've been working a lot this year... I'm looking forward to "Pan's Labyrinth", which I believe won the Cameraimage Award. Just from seeing the trailer, I suspect it will be added to my Favorites list.

HAVEN'T SEEN
All the Kings Men, Ask the Dust, The Black Dahlia, Brick, Copying Beethoven, Curse of the Golden Flower, Flags of Our Fathers, Fur, A Good Year, The House of Sand, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil, Pan's Labyrinth, The Proposition

FAVORITES
Babel (S16, S35, anamorphic for 1.85)
Children of Men (S35 1.85)
The Fountain (S35 1.85)
The Good Shepherd (S35 2.40)
The Prestige (anamorphic 2.40)
Marie Antoinette (35mm 1.85)

RUNNERS UP
Apocalypto (HD 1.85)
Casino Royale (S35 2.40)
The DaVinci Code (S35 2.40)
Flyboys (HD 2.40)
The Good German (S35 1.66)
Inside Man (S35 2.40)
Letters From Iwo Jima (anamorphic 2.40)
Miami Vice (HD 2.40)
The Omen (1.85)
One Night with the King (S35 2.40)
Prairie Home Companion (HD 2.40)
Silent Hill (S35 2.40)
Superman Returns (HD 2.40)
V is For Vendetta (S35 2.40)
Volver (anamorphic 2.40)

Out of all of them, I'd probably say that "The Prestige" was one of my favorites for the year in terms of the photography (and one of the few to not use a D.I.).

After a fall in usage over the past decade, I've noticed a rise again in the use of 1.85 for movies, and a continuing drop in the use of 35mm anamorphic, leaving Super-35 as the the most popular formats and 2.40 still the most common aspect ratios that Super-35 is used for. D.I.'s of course have increased in use. Usually the Best Cinematography Oscar nominations are dominated by 2.40 movies, but this year may see more 1.85 movies being nominated than in the recent past.

Digital cinematography is still fairly rare for the studio movies -- skipping the indies shooting in HD, seems to be limited to a couple of prestige projects a year being shot digitally. Compared to the overly optimistic (or gloomy) predictions made a few years ago, the rise in the use of digital for features has proceded cautiously and slowly... but there is a rise. Certainly with 4:4:4 HD being more common, the quality of HD features has improved.
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 03:45 AM

Great list David. I'm glad to see Prestige and Fountain made the cut. Easily two of my fav films of the year.
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 05:42 AM

My favourite cinematography of the year was in 'The Bothersome Man'. Very nice lighting and great shots that worked perfectly together with the story. It had a coherent style without attracting attention to itself.

Otherwise I also liked the German film 'Requiem' which was shot on Super16 letterboxed to 2.40 and blown up to Cinemascope. That film had a really nice texture and mood.

From David's list I liked 'Children of Men' best, although I found it to be a very cold, technical film. Some of the lighting in 'The Prestige' I also liked although it never approached greatness in any way and the shots were incredibly bland and unimaginative.
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#4 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 06:07 AM

Definitely "Children of Men" and "Romanzo Criminale" (2.40 anamorphic, great camerawork and lighting), which gave me hope for the Italian cinema which has been disapointing over the last two years.

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#5 NathanCoombs

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 09:17 AM

Id say Marie Antoinette should take it.

Tedious film, but pure romantic baroque beauty from the first frame to the last.
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#6 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 10:39 AM

Some major films haven't been released yet in Spain ("Flags" and "Letters From Iwo Jima", "Marie Antoinette", "Dreamgirls", "Apocalypto", "The Fountain", "The Good Shepherd", "The Prestige", "Blood Diamond"), so among the 2006 films I've seen so far I would pick, in no particular order:

-"Ask the Dust", Caleb Deschanel, ASC. Deschanel's classic & romantic approach and the stunning night beach secuence makes this film worth a watch.

-"A Good Year", Philippe Le Sourd. It's not Ridley's best film, but some single-source lighting and endless warm tones that would made David Watkin very proud of.

-"The Black Dahlia", Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC. Great camera moves, compositions and a very nice noir style. Hard lights through Venetian blinds still rocks.

-"Casino Royale", Phil Méheux, BSC. Being a Bond fan, I enjoyed a lot Méheux's colorful comeback to the classic 007 style.

-"United 93", Barry Ackroyd, BSC. Not exactly my cup of tea in terms of lighting, but Ackroyd's camera contributed a lot to the storytelling (and this film may well be my favourite film of the year).

-"Children of Men", Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC. Lubezki contributes to Cuaron's inspired direction with the unlit & rough style he developed for "The New World", showing us some of the most brilliant operating of the decade in some impressive continuous shots. I think he deserves all the major cinematography awards.

-"Miami Vice", Dion Beebe, ASC, ACS. An stylistic departure from "Collateral", with very nice hard lit night exteriors combined with very slick HD daytime photography. Really cool.

I was left cold by "Babel" (Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC) and I wasn't impressed either by "Perfume" (Frank Griebe), "World Trade Center" (Seamus McGarvey, BSC), "Goya's Ghosts" (Javier Aguirresarobe, AEC), "Deja Vu" (Paul Cameron, ASC), "Inside Man" (Matthew Libatique, ASC), "Pirates of the Caribbean" (Dariusz Wolski, ASC), "Volver" (José Luis Alcaine, AEC), "Poseidon" (John Seale, ASC, ACS), "V for Vendetta" (Adrian Biddle, BSC) and least of all by "The Departed" (Michael Ballhaus, ASC, BVK). But the greatest disappointment of the year probably came from Christopher Doyle on "Lady in the Water", which looked uninteresting to my eyes due to its blandness and softness.

Even it was shot in Spain with Spanish money, I refused to watch "Pan's Labyrinth" because I disliked every prior Del Toro film (except for "El Espinazo del Diablo", which was OK). It now seems that I'll have to take a look at it, at the end.
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#7 Dan Goulder

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 11:18 AM

"The Illusionist" definitely merits a mention. I thought the cinematography was very effective at evoking the look of a past period in time, reminiscent of turn-of-the-century stills in motion.
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#8 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 12:18 PM

I second Children Of Men and Romanzo Criminale. The latter being one of the best lit anamorphic films I think I've seen.
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#9 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 01:59 PM

Theres still lots of great looking movies I havent seen yet.
but my list so far is

Marie Antionette(beautifull lighting,excellent camera work,and composition)

The Good Sheperd(In terms of lighting this is my favorite movie I've seen this year)

The Black Dahlia(amazing camera work,dark film noir lighting, and some amazing stedicam shots)

Little Children(I want to see this movie again cause i was to into the story to pay attention
the cinematography, but i did notice the lighting was very natural and warm and at times very
dark and cold,theres one scene at the pool that must of been 5 or 6 shots put together so it
looked like 1 long stedicam shot)

Miami Vice( the best hd movie ive seen this year, Dark and gritty they really used the HD medium for its
purpose and not tried to make people think "hey was that shot on film")

The Prestige( I did not like this movie, but the lighting was amazing, seeing a movie like this makes me wonder why we need a DI?)

Im really looking forward to seeing Children of Men,Pans Labrynth,Lady in the water,Apocolypto





Theres still lots of great looking movies I havent seen yet.
but my list so far is

Marie Antionette(beautifull lighting,excellent camera work,and composition)

The Good Sheperd(In terms of lighting this is my favorite movie I've seen this year)

The Black Dahlia(amazing camera work,dark film noir lighting, and some amazing stedicam shots)

Little Children(I want to see this movie again cause i was to into the story to pay attention
to the cinematography, but i did notice the lighting was very natural and warm and at times very
dark and cold,theres one scene at the pool that must of been 5 or 6 shots put together so it
looked like 1 long stedicam shot)

Miami Vice( the best hd movie ive seen this year, Dark and gritty they really used the HD medium for its
purpose and not tried to make people think "hey was that shot on film")

The Prestige( I did not like this movie, but the lighting was amazing, seeing a movie like this makes me wonder why we need a DI?)

Im really looking forward to seeing Children of Men,Pans Labrynth,Lady in the water,Apocolypto
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#10 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 02:23 PM

"The Illusionist" definitely merits a mention. I thought the cinematography was very effective at evoking the look of a past period in time, reminiscent of turn-of-the-century stills in motion.



I also liked The Illusionist, not only for it's good cinematography, but also for just being a good film. I tend to enjoy a lot of the stuff with Edward Norton in it ;)
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#11 Matthew Buick

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 04:17 PM

I shot a roll of E64 6 weeks ago, seriously, that is my favourite cinematography of 2006. :D
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#12 Daniel Smith

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:08 AM

V for Vendetta

Casino Royale

Children of Men

Edited by Daniel Ashley-Smith, 01 January 2007 - 09:09 AM.

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#13 Daniel Smith

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:21 AM

Oops, how can I forget 'Night at the Museum'.
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#14 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 01:35 PM

Did anyone see "Idlewild"?
Great photography, I'm curious to know if they did a DI, at least in part of it.
Very entertainning as well.
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#15 Jason Debus

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 10:41 PM

Favorites:

The Fountain
Pan's Labyrinth
Lady Vengeance

Others that I think deserve an 'honorable mention':

The Illusionist, Children of Men, Perfume, Inland Empire, Three Times, Marie Antoinette, Bettie Page, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Water, Akeelah and the Bee, The Prestige, Little Children, United 93, The Proposition, and Rocky Balboa.

Haven't yet seen: Babel, Casino Royale, The Good Shepherd, The Good German, Apocalypto, Flyboys, Letters From Iwo Jima, Volver, Copying Beethoven, Curse of the Golden Flower, Flags of Our Fathers, Fur, The House of Sand, The Painted Veil, The Queen, and Notes on a Scandal.

Did anyone see "Idlewild"?

I just caught it on DVD recently. I think period films like Idlewild (as well as Perfume) have a marvelous production design (sets/locations, makeup, and wardrobe) that I think really helps the cinematography. A film like Marie Antoinette takes it a step farther cinematically I think. I liked Idlewild's speed ramping during some of the dance sequences. But I thought a lot of the CGI transitions were unnecessary, although the one at the end with the turntable was a good way to finish it.
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#16 Sean Azze

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 12:18 AM

I don't know if it was necessarily my favorite cinematography of the year, but I caught El Aura the other day and I was really captivated by its cold, desaturated look.

There is a particular scene set in a casino that was shot in a way that grabbed my attention. Usually, you expect to see a lot of flickering lights and bright neon that is associated with the bells and whistles of a casino, but this particular DP lit it in a way where it was so dark and bland, that you really could only see the tables because they fell underneath pools of light. I'm not describing very well but it had almost an eerie quality to it; it was quite remakable.

Vamos Argentina! :lol:
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#17 David Avila

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 04:15 AM

Children of Men, no doubt. I´m still wondering how they did the car shot? :o :o
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#18 Angeliki Makraki

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 04:42 AM

I was never impressed by slick or perfect cinematography.
I saw Children of Men tonight and everything was in perfect cold, blue but it didn't move me.
Lively films like Crash are much more interesting...
I liked the cinematography in La Petite Jerusalem because the guy gets in the middle of things.
Laurent Brunet is his name , I think.
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#19 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 06:16 AM

I haven't seen Apocalypto,the Fountain and Letters form Iwo Jima yet, they're coming out later this month here in italy, and there are lots I still have to see.

Anyway, I'd say Babel, The Prestige, The Proposition and Children of Men are my favourites.
Romanzo Criminale was pretty good visually, but I think the best Italian cinematography last year was "N" by Virzì (and I'm looking forward to seeing Storaro's Caravaggio soon).
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#20 Alex Haspel

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 09:09 AM

Children of Men, no doubt. I´m still wondering how they did the car shot? :o :o


I think this was discussed in the "children of men" thread in this subforum.
You can also see some pictures here: the main site with images
picture 1 of the car rig
picture 2 of the car rig


And as for the topic discussed:
I have barely seen any movies this year, only "Borat", "Children of men" and "Ainoa" (an austrian low budget indypendent film on which some friends of mine worked unpaid. s16 blow up. Looked really good, very nicely shot, great art direction, but rather bad script and directing in my opinion)
But i think i don't need to see any more movies to say that "children of men" is my personal favourite of 2006.
Couldn't really get any better in my book. I absolutely loved the shot of Clive Owen as he driving in Michael Caine's Citroen CX for the first time, the one with the sun down on the horizon giving him a kicker interupted by passing trees.

Edited by Alex Haspel, 02 January 2007 - 09:14 AM.

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