LawrenceA

100 Best Shot Films

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Celebrating 100 years since the guild's creation, the American Society of Cinematographers compiled their choices for the 100 best shot films of the 20th century. The top ten are in preferentially order, while the remaining 90 are in chronological order.

  1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962), shot by Freddie Young, BSC (Dir. David Lean)
  2. Blade Runner (1982), shot by Jordan Cronenweth, ASC (Dir. Ridley Scott)
  3. Apocalypse Now (1979), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  4. Citizen Kane (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC (Dir. Orson Welles)
  5. The Godfather (1972), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  6. Raging Bull (1980), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
  7. The Conformist (1970), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
  8. Days of Heaven (1978), shot by Néstor Almendros, ASC (Dir. Terrence Malick)
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), shot by Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC with additional photography by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  10. The French Connection (1971), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (Dir. William Friedkin)
  11. Metropolis (1927), shot by Karl Freund, ASC; Günther Rittau
  12. Napoleon (1927), shot by Leonce-Henri Burel, Jules Kruger, Joseph-Louis Mundwiller, 
  13. Sunrise (1927), shot by Charles Rosher Sr., ASC; Karl Struss, ASC
  14. Gone with the Wind (1939), shot by Ernest Haller, ASC
  15. The Wizard of Oz (1939), shot by Harold Rosson, ASC
  16. The Grapes of Wrath (1940), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC
  17. How Green Was My Valley (1941), shot by Arthur C. Miller, ASC
  18. Casablanca (1942), shot by Arthur Edeson, ASC
  19. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), shot by Stanley Cortez, ASC
  20. Black Narcissus (1947), shot by Jack Cardiff, BSC
  21. The Bicycle Thief (1948), shot by Carlo Montuori, 
  22. The Red Shoes (1948), shot by Jack Cardiff, BSC
  23. The Third Man (1949), shot by Robert Krasker, BSC
  24. Rashomon (1950) shot by Kazuo Miyagawa
  25. Sunset Boulevard (1950), shot by John Seitz, ASC
  26. On the Waterfront (1954), shot by Boris Kaufman, ASC
  27. Seven Samurai (1954), shot by Asakazu Nakai
  28. The Night of the Hunter (1955), shot by Stanley Cortez, ASC
  29. The Searchers (1956), shot by Winton C. Hoch, ASC
  30. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), shot by Jack HIlyard, BSC
  31. Touch of Evil (1958), shot by Russell Metty, ASC
  32. Vertigo (1958), shot by Robert Burks, ASC
  33. North by Northwest (1959), shot by Robert Burks, ASC
  34. Breathless (1960), shot by Raoul Coutard
  35. Last Year at Marienbad (1961), shot by Sacha Vierny
  36. 8 ½ (1963), shot by Gianni Di Venanzo
  37. Hud (1963), shot by James Wong Howe, ASC
  38. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), shot by Gilbert Taylor, BSC
  39. I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba; 1964), shot by Sergei Urusevsky
  40. Doctor Zhivago (1965), shot by Freddie Young, BSC
  41. The Battle of Algiers (1966), shot by Marcello Gatti
  42. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), shot by Haskell Wexler, ASC
  43. Cool Hand Luke (1967), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC
  44. The Graduate (1967), shot by Robert Surtees, ASC
  45. In Cold Blood (1967), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC
  46. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), shot by Tonino Delli Colli, AIC
  47. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC
  48. The Wild Bunch (1969), shot by Lucien Ballard, ASC
  49. A Clockwork Orange (1971), shot by John Alcott, BSC
  50. Klute (1971), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC
  51. The Last Picture Show (1971), shot by Robert Surtees, ASC
  52. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC
  53. Cabaret (1972), shot by Geoffery Unsworth, BSC
  54. Last Tango in Paris (1972), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC
  55. The Exorcist (1973), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC
  56. Chinatown (1974), shot by John Alonzo, ASC
  57. The Godfather: Part II (1974), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC
  58. Barry Lyndon (1975), shot by John Alcott, BSC
  59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), shot by Haskell Wexler, ASC
  60. All the President's Men (1976), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC
  61. Taxi Driver (1976), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC
  62. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC
  63. The Duellists (1977), shot by Frank Tidy, BSC
  64. The Deer Hunter (1978), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC 
  65. Alien (1979), shot by Derek Vanlint, CSC
  66. All that Jazz (1979), shot by Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC
  67. Being There (1979), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC
  68. The Black Stallion (1979), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC
  69. Manhattan (1979), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC
  70. The Shining (1980), shot by John Alcott, BSC
  71. Chariots of Fire (1981), shot by David Watkin, BSC
  72. Das Boot (1981), shot by Jost Vacano, ASC
  73. Reds (1981), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC
  74. Fanny and Alexander (1982), shot by Sven Nykvist, ASC
  75. The Right Stuff (1983), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC
  76. Amadeus (1984), shot by Miroslav Ondricek, ASC, ACK
  77. The Natural (1984), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC
  78. Paris, Texas (1984), shot by Robby Müller, NSC, BVK
  79. Brazil (1985), shot by Roger Pratt, BSC
  80. The Mission (1986), shot by Chris Menges, ASC, BSC
  81. Empire of the Sun (1987), shot by Allen Daviau, ASC
  82. The Last Emperor (1987), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC
  83. Wings of Desire (1987), shot by Henri Alekan
  84. Mississippi Burning (1988), shot by Peter Biziou, BSC
  85. JFK (1991), shot by Robert Richardson, ASC
  86. Raise the Red Lantern (1991), shot by Lun Yang
  87. Unforgiven (1992), shot by Jack Green, ASC
  88. Baraka (1992), shot by Ron Fricke
  89. Schindler's List (1993), shot by Janusz Kaminski
  90. Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC
  91. Trois Coulieurs: Bleu (Three Colours: Blue; 1993), shot by Slawomir Idziak, PSC
  92. The Shawshank Redemption (1994), shot by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC
  93. Seven (1995), shot by Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC
  94. The English Patient (1996), shot by John Seale, ASC, BSC
  95. L. A. Confidential (1997), shot by Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC
  96. Saving Private Ryan (1998), shot by Janusz Kaminski
  97. The Thin Red Line (1998), shot by John Toll, ASC
  98. American Beauty (1999), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC
  99. The Matrix (1999), shot by Bill Pope, ASC
  100. In the Mood for Love (2000), shot by Christopher Doyle, HKSC

https://theasc.com/news/asc-unveils-list-of-100-milestone-films-in-cinematography-of-the-20th-century

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Not a bad list, given the often insular and self-congratulatory nature of many of these official lists.  Here are some of the most egregious omissions:

Battleship Potemkin

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Man with a Movie Camera

The Scarlet Empress

The Rules of the Game

Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II

The River

The Earrings of Madame De

Wild Strawberries

The Leopard

Pierrot le Fou

Le Bonheur

Persona

Au Hazard Baltazar

Weekend

The Young Girls of Rochefort

Marketa Lazarova

The Red and the White

Andrei Rublev

Death in Venice

Cries and Whispers

Badlands

The Spirit of the Beehive

The Mirror

The Traveling Players

Time Regained

Requiem for a Dream

Who would I remove to include these 28 films?  Let's see 10, 11, 43-45, 47, 50, 54, 55, 59, 61-65, 67, 68, 71-73, 76, 77, 84, 91, 92, 98 for a start.  I haven't seen 88 or 90. 

 

 

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Add: 'The Great Gatsby' 1974

Add: 'Badlands'

Remove: 'Days of Heaven'

Add: 'Fitzcaraldo' or 'Aguirre-Wrath-of-God'

Add: 'Black Orpheus'

Add: Orphee'

Add: 'La Belle et La Bette'

Add: 'The Burmese Harp'

Add: 'The Quiet Man'

Remove: 'How Green Was My Valley'

Remove: 'Hud'

Remove: The Last Picture Show

Add: 'Nevada Smith'

Add: 'Paper Moon'

Add: 'Rollerball'

Add: 'Pather Panchali'

Add: 'Bite the Bullet'

Remove: 'All the President's Men'

Add: 'Don't Look Now'

Add: 'Islands in the Stream'

Add: Ryan's Daughter

Add: The Three Musketeers

Add: Superman, the Motion Picture

Add: The Outlaw Josey Wales

Add: The Passenger

Add: 'Forbidden Planet'

Add: 'Murder on the Orient Express'

Add: 'Woodstock'

Add: 'Far From the Madding Crowd'

Remove: 'All That Jazz'

Remove: 'The Right Stuff'

Overall: don't even include anything after slot #74.

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Oh, I disagree. There are many truly amazing cinematographic efforts on there post your cut-off date. I mean, right away, The Right Stuff at No. 75 is absolutely breathtaking.

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I'm sorry to disagree with you because I generally admire yer opinions, pard.

But nothing looks right to me once flicks like 'Right Stuff' started to emerge. Something about 'em is just ...eldritch. Weird. Too tecchie. Too precise. Its something to do with lenses and stock and the advent of video. Or something.

Consider closely, the 1960s and 1970s films I dig so much. There's a smooth, mildly-grainy, buttery, vaguely-"gauzy", visual quality which makes the film character almost dream-like.

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And, Sewhite...my good man...considering where cinematography has ultimately wound up, wouldn't you say I'm vindicated? Isnt this very conversation saturated with vainglory, regret, remorse, and a touch of the bittersweet? Photography has been murdered, after all--wouldn't you concur?

We're at the point now ...where the industry has all but shat on glorious 35mm stock and replaced it with 'digital' and '3d' crapola. It's the new norm. They should have observed the more stringent rectitude ...of the type I vociferously endorse! Consarn them!

Say what you want about the French and the Germans. They know how to follow rules.

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1 hour ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Photography has been murdered, after all--wouldn't you concur?

No.

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Regarding cinematography…

 

“The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928)

“I am Cuba” (1964)

 

…are simply masterful examples of cinematography. 💋

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Eight aeons ago, LawrenceA hissed:

Quote

No.

Your Honor, the People submit the following exhibits.

 

Costs at 3D Movie Theaters Keep Rising, But What About Quality?

https://tinyurl.com/zphftey

 

Are small theaters punching their tickets... to oblivion?

http://tinyurl.com/6hwo8au

 

The 3-D trend: 'Rubber To Meet $ Road'?

https://tinyurl.com/jbktull

 

20th C Fox to End Distribution of 35mm Films

http://tinyurl.com/3hw9qq4

 

'T&O' (Teal-and-Orange digital color palettes)

https://tinyurl.com/ybb7kv2

 

Post DVD Movie future

https://tinyurl.com/6kokhks

 

Why Today's Blockbusters Suck

https://tinyurl.com/85edoyv

 

'The Gray Ones' ...fade to black

https://www.popoptiq.com/the-gray-ones-fade-to-black/

 

Spielberg & Lucas Predict 'Implosion' for current film industry

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/steven-spielberg-predicts-implosion-film-567604

 

Roger Ebert: Why 3-d won't work and never will

http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/why-3d-doesnt-work-and-never-will-case-closed

 

Christopher Nolan begs Hollywood execs not to abandon 35mm film stock

https://tinyurl.com/h989qhy

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An excellent list.  Not much to quibble with.  I would have liked to have seen a spot for The Seventh Seal (1957), shot by Gunnar Fischer.

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I love the other world beauty of "2001" as well as the gritty, grimy New York of "The French Connection"

My favorite B&W cinematography was the striking, dream like "Night Of The Hunter"

In the early 1960s I notice there is a sort of change in B&W films. I am not a expert in photography but I will try to explain what I mean. Some of the images look much more crystal clear in B&W films of this time than in older B&W films. Some examples are "Days Of Wine And Roses" "Experiment In Terror" and the low budget thriller with Victor Buono "The Strangler". Did anyone else notice this?

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I always thought the change in B&W came with the introduction of Cinemascope.  I don't know if there's something different with the film stock or what, but wide-screen black-and-white has always looked rather different to me than the Academy ratio stuff.

Movies I would consider that I don't see on the list include the 1935 A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Edge of the World, and Sissi (yeah, the story is so sweet it makes the Hallmark Channel look dark and twisted, but the cinematography is gorgeous).

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Most of these are hits or well-respected films on this list, but I wish they could have resurrected One from the Heart for this list. Such a beautiful film, far better than its tattered reputation.....

one-from-the-heart-3.jpg

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5 minutes ago, skimpole said:

Also Kwaidan

Onibaba and Harakiri both have fantastic cinematography, as well.

onibaba_br4.jpg

22795791.3a920fa7.640.jpg?r2

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On 1/9/2019 at 11:54 AM, Det Jim McLeod said:

I love the other world beauty of "2001" as well as the gritty, grimy New York of "The French Connection"

My favorite B&W cinematography was the striking, dream like "Night Of The Hunter"

In the early 1960s I notice there is a sort of change in B&W films. I am not a expert in photography but I will try to explain what I mean. Some of the images look much more crystal clear in B&W films of this time than in older B&W films. Some examples are "Days Of Wine And Roses" "Experiment In Terror" and the low budget thriller with Victor Buono "The Strangler". Did anyone else notice this?

Yes, Det. Jim. Some of the B&W films of this era seem to have particularly bright and saturated whites. Look at The Pumpkin Eater and The Hill, both shot by the great Oswald Morris, or the Italian comedy The Passionate Thief which at one time could be seen at rarefilmm.com. Zorba the Greek is another gorgeous film from this era.

Morris should also have been mentioned for his color work on Moulin Rouge. Leaving off John Alton would send a movie buddy of mine into apoplexy. I'll offer Raw Deal as a great example of Alton's mastery of film noir. In general, in true AFI style, the list tilts far too much to recent films, with scant recognition of B&W. And for color films, no mention of Leon Shamroy for Leave Her to Heaven? At least there's recognition for Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, though not ranking both in the top five ever is, shall we say, questionable.

In general, the list includes mostly competent or admirable cinematography though often far from the very best. But anyone who prefers The Godfather to Pandora and the Flying Dutchman has his head stuck in a bucket of . . . no, no, it's a new year. Kinder, gentler. Or anyone who prefers McCabe and Mrs. Miller to Warlock . . . . Kinder, gentler.

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And I seem to have forgotten to add A Matter of Life and Death. This is really incredible on the big screen in a great restoration. The dissolves between color and B&W were so beautiful that I gasped out loud.

Now if I were voting for most influential, rather than greatest, the list would be different. Gordon Willis' overly dark rooms in The Godfather have, alas, been widely influential, if deplorable.

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I might add---

KEY LARGO( shot by Karl Freund)

TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE( shot by Ted D. McCord)

and

SCROOGE('51) (shot by C.M. Pennington-Richardson)

But, I'd have NO IDEA which one or ones to replace for them.

Sepiatone

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I am so sorry but I am getting old and grumpy.

I really do appreciate seeing these lists being discussed on this forum, but they (the lists, not we posters) are getting increasingly silly and pointless. The critics casting their votes are essentially sleep walking or following-the-crowd. Predictably over half of the titles are Oscar darlings and regulars on other Top Hundreds that probably get more praise than they deserve already. Missing are so many great silent classics, pioneering works in Technicolor and widescreen that involved great difficulty by their camera crews "getting it right", not to mention all of the short subjects being totally ignored... as usual. Who is to say that a vintage Technicolor MGM Traveltalk from 1934, even if narrated by sometimes mundane James FitzPatrick, should be considered less worthy? After all, it was much harder to carry bulky early color camera equipment through the Swiss Alps back then than today. Don't get me started on earlier films that involved loss of life in an attempt to bring-back-the-goods like THE TRAIL OF '98. Also why is METROPOLIS the only title from the great German expressionist period that these high brows can agree on?

Saw THE ENGLISH PATIENT again last night. Saw it in the theaters in 1996-97, then on VHS and I think this might be my third or fourth time of viewing. It certainly has great camera work. Too bad the story isn't too believable. Plus Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, both quite talented and trying awfully hard on screen, are rather mismatched as a couple. Maybe the original characters in the book are too? No, I have not read it. (Funny... I have no trouble seeing Juliette Binoche and Naveen Andrews as a believable couple, but I think Binoche has no trouble "falling in love" on screen with anybody no matter who they are, much like Ingrid Bergman or Audrey Hepburn.) On the plus side, as Fiennes is wailing in grief as he emerges holding her from The Cave, the camera crew did a nice job making sure her white dress is blowing in the wind and making sure the sun hits their faces just right.

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The Kingrat Law of Color Cinematography: All cinematographers working in color can be divided into two classes: 1) Jack Cardiff; 2) Everyone else.

I so agree with jlewis about this kind of listing. Most of the younger cinematographers don't know much about films earlier than the 1970s, as well as a few classics seen in film class or readily available on TV. For instance, there's much to enjoy about Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and they certainly are well shot, but it wouldn't occur to me to list either film on a list of best films or best shot films. Less familiar films are out of luck. When I think about the handling of browns on screen, I immediately think of Moulin Rouge, Warlock, and Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing. Harold Pinter's tricky-with-time-shifts screenplay for The Pumpkin Eater has not worn well, but Oswald Morris' B&W cinematography is as dazzling as ever. If you haven't seen these films--if, heaven forbid, they aren't in the 1001 Must-See Films--then you don't know if you would agree or not.

Gosh, I didn't realize Klute was in  the Top 100. I think Gordon Willis' cinematography for Klute is as ugly as it is dysfunctional. The big action climax is chopped to pieces in the editing because the scene is so dark that you can't tell what's going on, so the editing has to supply some kind of kinetic excitement. Klute was made by a novice director (Alan J. Pakula's second feature), and Willis makes himself the true auteur of the film. No wonder cinematographers like it.

 

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Just now, kingrat said:

The Kingrat Law of Color Cinematography: All cinematographers working in color can be divided into two classes: 1) Jack Cardiff; 2) Everyone else.

I so agree with jlewis about this kind of listing. Most of the younger cinematographers don't know much about films earlier than the 1970s, as well as a few classics seen in film class or readily available on TV. For instance, there's much to enjoy about Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and they certainly are well shot, but it wouldn't occur to me to list either film on a list of best films or best shot films. Less familiar films are out of luck. When I think about the handling of browns on screen, I immediately think of Moulin Rouge, Warlock, and Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing. Harold Pinter's tricky-with-time-shifts screenplay for The Pumpkin Eater has not worn well, but Oswald Morris' B&W cinematography is as dazzling as ever. If you haven't seen these films--if, heaven forbid, they aren't in the 1001 Must-See Films--then you don't know if you would agree or not.

 

it even kind of goes for more recent films too. I noticed the mention of 1993's Searching for Bobby Fischer. To my memory, not many images stood out there, and frankly Conrad Hall's work in the following year's neglected and coolly received remake of Love Affair was far more impressive.

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10 hours ago, Jlewis said:

The critics casting their votes are essentially sleep walking or following-the-crowd.

Just to reiterate, this list was compiled by the members of the American Society of Cinematographers, all working professionals in their field, and not a critic or critics group.

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2 hours ago, kingrat said:

The Kingrat Law of Color Cinematography: All cinematographers working in color can be divided into two classes: 1) Jack Cardiff; 2) Everyone else.

 

He too did some nifty shorts back in the day. Covered this one on that thread a while back. It may not have the "wow" factor of Black Narcissus but at least it documents some ancient ruins that no longer exist today, preserving them in Technicolor for posterity.

 

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13 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Just to reiterate, this list was compiled by the members of the American Society of Cinematographers, all working professionals in their field, and not a critic or critics group.

I will try to remember next time I get nitpicky. (Yes, I knew they were cinematographers but I did goof in my post when my mind wandered into those lofty critics' polls of the past.) Anybody seen that great documentary Visions Of Light (1992)? Have that one on DVD and have enjoyed it over the years even if it too tends to focus too much on the popular mainstream features discussed too often already in movie books.

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