Best Cinematographers of 2015; My Picks

Cinematographers are the unsung heroes of a film. Ok let’s be fair, everyone who works their ass of on a film set from writers to the lighting and sound crew to the guy that holds the large hidden voice capturing mic to the girl that puts the finishing touches to the make-up…everyone plays an important part. Once the scene is set however, there’s one person who will be shooting everything through his eyes. He is the first person to see what goes on screen and has the ultimate say(most of the time) on what we as an audience sees on the big screen. They are a special breed. Superhuman. Indeed, they are the heroes that audiences want, but not the ones most appreciate. These 6 cinematographers really impressed me with an eye for brutality, savagery, horror, beauty, disturbia and magic.

 

Nominees for the Bear Award:

 

Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)

the revenant bison

If we could only attribute one quality to define the measure of a man’s success and talent and eveything in between, Emmanuel Lubezki or more affectionately named by his friends as “Chivo” is ‘The Boss’. No one gets more boss than him…which is weird considering how the man handles himself with so much humility, grace and a general sense of the unassuming. But don’t be fooled. As much as he might be a nice guy in real life, he is the Black Mamba when it comes to photography. One need only look at his work in Gravity where he asked Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to hang for hours on end in contorted positions to capture the breadth and realism of space. He won Best Cinematography in 2014. For his next project, he and Inarritu artfully disguised Birdman as a one-take movie and his fluid complex turns and 360 degree side-shifts made Birdman technically unchallenged. Won again in 2015. Now, he stripped everything he did with his previous efforts; No CGI, no artificial lighting, no green-screens. He worked with limited daylight hours and freezing temperatures, even going so far as to immerse himself with his camera into a freezing lake to create the feeling of being submerged and then having the camera lens condense to a feeling of foggy frigid corporeality. Lubezki has made The Revenant 2015’s most ravaging and ravishing film all at the same time

 

 

John Seale (Mad Max:Fury Road)

mad max john seale

I have to say I didn’t really like the film. But I have to give credit to it in the cinematography. John Seale’s intense 2 hour thrill ride is literally a shot that covers a 2-hour cinematic experience of a road chase filled with mad MAD people. It’s flary and fiery red-yellow hues work beautifully with the deep electric blue contrasts. The savagery of the action and the raging sandstorms and explosions come together like a chaotic and distorted concoction of madness and savagery. The action stunts were impressively shot. Somehow, Seale has managed to edit everything so well and time his camera movements to form some sort of coherence and anticipation even when action was already on an octane-high, tip-toeing on the precipice of insanity.

 

Mike Gioulakis (It Follows)

it follows cinematography

I struggled to find enough reason to nominate Mike Gioulakis until I finally realized why his work is so important. The fundamental reason why It Follows is even a horror film, even a hugely successful one at that, is because of Gioulakis’ cinematography. It all boils down to how he kept the suspense at a disturbing high throughout through the use of 360 rotations, slow build-up and showing not the ghost itself but the vicinity of the evil without revealing it. By doing this, he constantly gives us the g feeling of wanting to see more and yet dreading the very act of anticipation. Needless to say, when the ghosts actually do appear, it shocks the living daylights out of you. Indeed, the process is more horrifying than the actual end; But that only makes the experience more terrifying than before. If only horror films could take a cue from this. REQUIRED READING FOR PROSPECTIVE HORROR FILMS.

 

Nic Knowland (The Duke Of Burgundy)

duke-of-burgundy

The Duke Of Burgundy is a film that has hardly been seen. Indeed, I had to find this online because it didn’t show anywhere in cinemas. To give you some background, it’s an artful take on the BDSM topic with more focus on it’s damage to relationships and the psychology behind the power-play in bed and in life. It is a much more thoughtful and profound spin on the genre to which “a film which must not be named” has given a first commercialized fiasco and disgrace to the theme. The Duke Of Burgundy is sometimes quite shocking but always very artistic and impactful. Thanks to Nic Knowland, the film thrives in its gothic imagery and dense darkness, while incorporating many layers to the eroticism displayed in the film. Most notable of all however, is Knowland’s masterful handling of the metaphor of the butterfly. Both characters are researchers in butterflies but Nic elevates that on screen with bizarre and highly evocative flashes of butterflies in various tiltshift and dizzying effects. It conveyed a sort of beauty that slowly metamorphosized into a discordant descent to chaos. It’s like last year’s Under The Skin and I’d recommend watching it for a new experience.

 

 

Roger Deakins (Sicario)

sicario infrared

Boxers don’t have an old timers day. But cinematographers do. Roger Deakins is living proof of that. Having been nominated for 12 times, that is an achievement in itself. Forget Leo’s snubs for a moment. What about Roger Deakins? And he’s lost every single time. Aw man I feel bad. But yes, let’s focus on the positives. Sicario was an awesome movie. The cinematography had a huge part to play. I personally loved the wide-spanning shots of Juarez’s deserts and sprawling enclaves of drug cartels and  citizens in homes simultaneously co-existing dangerously. The shocking moments are aplenty as Deakins doesn’t hold back one bit. It keeps you on edge the whole time and it’s made even more tense with his stark imagery and deathly close-ups. Deakins work is especially effective when we view the tunnel scene through the infra-red perspective that is morbidly tense because we just don’t know what will come next. Deakins’ Sicario gets you face to face with death and you start to see the fading away of humanity. It’s such a taut work of art that quite frankly, might cause your heart to skip a beat.

 

 

Xavier Perez Grobet (Focus)

focus cinematography 2

Bet you didn’t expect this. Focus was a hell of an entertaining movie. Yeah I know I know, it’s not even a shred close to being considered for awards. But I beg to differ in cinematography. I’ve said early on in my review all the way back in last Feb that I was so impressed with how the film was shot. A con-job never felt so sexy before. Lights dazzle and razzle. Everything had a sort of shiny sparkly feel which if you think about it, is a con act in itself. It distracts you just like Will Smith and Margot Robbie in their con-job roles. It’s an exercise in trickery; The allure in Grobet’s dazzling cinematography is simply one to be enjoyed. You find yourself willingly be bedazzled and enchated by what you see even when you know you’re the one who’s eventually going to be tricked.

 

Nominees once again:


Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)

John Seale (Mad Max:Fury Road)

Mike Gioulakis (It Follows)

Nic Knowland (The Duke Of Burgundy)

Roger Deakins (Sicario)

Xavier Perez Grobet (Focus)


 

 

Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki

CHIVOOOOOOOOOO. Yes. For the third straight year, he snags up the awards one after another. And if my Bear Awards count for anything, he’s gotten another.  In a field of so many strong competitors, he once again proves victorious. His precision is impeccable and his style unmistakable. Despite him going to the deepest,coldest and most forsaken places, he has managed to find beauty in savagery.

Little Bear was so inspired by what was on screen, Little Bear decided to make a mirror-like colour splash,shadow shot, split-scr…what do you think? Is this adorable cute fluffy squishball over-ambitious here? 😛

Bear cinematography

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Keith says:

    No complaints here. How could you not love what he does in The Revenant? It is breathtaking in an assortment of ways.

    Oh, and I love that you nominated my Top 3 – Chevo, Seale, and Deakins!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Yeah as much as one may want to give others a chance, the fact is that Lubezki’s just so damn good. Yay! Glad I got your favourites.

      Like

  2. Lauren says:

    Completely agree with you on Lubezki. Revenant wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, but dang did it look amazing. Deakins and Seale would be my #2 and #3 respectively- such a strong year overall!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Yup, I was just in complete awe for 3 hours. My jaw just dropped the entire time. Same! I’m glad we share the same sentiment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. John Charet says:

    My choice would either be Mad Max: Fury Road or Sicario 🙂 Keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Like

  4. Awesome list! I love seeing It Follows on here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks!! Haven’t seen your reviews in a while!

      Liked by 1 person

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