I think Matthew Libatique is a new school dop that is pretty solid and often very inventive, particularly in his savvy use of 16mm. His work on Darren Aranofsky’s “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” were outstanding, no one can forget the visuals in either of those films. Also his stunningly ‘naturalistic’ work on Joel Schumacher’s “Tigerland” shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm, the film has a beautifully gritty ‘vérité" style that enhances the film. “Phone Booth” was also visually dynamic and interesting for it’s restrictive subject matter. “Never Die Alone” (granted not a great film) but cinematically Matty continues to show his signature style again, utilizing 16mm and blowing up to an anamorphic 35mm release print which looked fantastic. His work with Spike Lee is pretty solid too (unfortunately Spike has become ‘commercial’ in his old age) but still “She Hate Me” was almost a return to classic Spike and “Miracle at St. Anna” looks visually promising.
And of course Ellen Kuras should get a big mention here for her stand out work on predominantly “independent” films, she has shaped and continues to shape the ‘look’ of contemporary American cinema, in both film and digital formats. Her stunningly stark black and white photography on the indie classic “Swoon”, and the gritty color/b&w photography in “I Shot Andy Warhol” her vibrantly stylised colour work on Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” and particularly the experimental use of reversal stocks in “Summer of Sam”, her innovative digital video work on Lee’s “Bamboozled” and Miller’s “Personal Velocity”, she uses the medium creatively and treats it as video (not merely a substitute for film). And of course her sublime collaboration with Michel Gondry on “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and also “Be Kind Rewind”.
Don’t forget Tom Richmond, who’s work for Alex Cox, James Gray,and Keith Gordon is some of the best of contemporary american cinematography.
Jean Yves Escoffier – particularly Les Amants Du Pont Nuef
Chris Doyle – when he’s awake.
I’d like to give a shout out to the guys repsonsible for 3 films that have always stuck in my mind cinematography-wise (plus they’re GREAT films anyway)…
…‘Great Expectations’ (1946) and ‘Oliver Twist’ (1948) – cinematography by Guy Green. The opening sequence of ‘Oliver Twist’ with Oliver’s mum trying to reach the workhouse is just mesmerising…
…and ‘Mildred Pierce’ (1946) – cinematography by Ernest Haller. The lighting in the sequence where Mildred tries to frame Wally at the beach house – wow! It’s so damn good it just gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. He was also cinematographer for ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ (1962) and DoP for ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ (1955).
Black and White is my preference – especially on the big screen – and I have a soft spot for the cinematography of classic Film Noir and German Expressionism.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
blew my mind
Though I am not a huge fan of Gus Van Sant’s work, I do think his cinematographer does a brilliant job. His movies are beautiful to look at. I especially liked the visuals (and sounds) of Paranoid Park.
That would be the aforementioned Doyle. For MILK, his next movie, he is going back to GERRY and ELEPHANT’s great DP, Harris Savides.
Yeah, Savides’ cinematography can be quite stunning (stand out for me is definitely “Gerry” with some great HD work in “Zodiac”) but he has also turned out some very average work also (particularly “American Gangster” was terrible). I enjoyed his simple approach on “Margot at the Wedding”, he totally embraced the ‘naturalistic’ style established by Robert Yeoman in “Squid and the Whale” which enhances both films immensely.
Oh, thanks DKAZ! I guess I should do my homework next time. :p
My dream DP has always been Harry Savides.
Not only for his work in film with Fincher and Van Sant,
…but also for his extensive video work with Mark Romanek.
LONG LIVE SAVIDES!
My second choice is Brazilian Lula Carvalho, son of legendary Walter Carvalho.
Lula DP’d Tropa de Elite and A Festa da Menina Morta.
The first a commercial feature, the other a poetic cinematic essay.
I bet he has a fantastic career ahead of him.
I also like the work of Emmanuel Lubezki.
Y tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men,
he has a thing with sunrises and sunsets that kills me.
I just watched Louis Malle’s “Les Amants” again and was reminded of how absolutely stunning a cinematographer Henri Decae was and thought i’d give him some overdue props here. Decae is certainly one of the great French masters of both expressionistic/stylised and naturalistic black and white cinematography and he excelled when it came to shooting in Dyaliscope! Several of the early/pre “French New Wave” filmmakers like Melville and Malle took advantage of Decae’s gift for utilising natural light and later his use of hand held “vérité” photography (like many other new cinematographers at the time Decae started off as a photojournalist during WW II). And of course Truffaut totally profited from Decae’s talent and experience when he made his outstanding feature debut “The 400 Blows”, which is still Truffaut’s finest looking film and a pure cinematographic masterpiece!
Some of Decae’s stand out films include:
- Malle’s “Lift to the Scaffold”, “Les Amants”
- Chabrol’s “Le Beau Serge”, “Les Cousins”, “Les Bonnes femmes”
- Truffaut’s “400 Blows”
- Melville’s “Le Silence de la Mer”, “Les Enfants Terribles” “Bob le Flambeur”, “La Samourai”, “The Red Circle”
Harris Savides (“Last Days”, “Zodiac”), Christopher Doyle (“Paranoid Park”, “2046”), Caroline Campetier (“H Story”, “Le vent de la nuit”), Darius Khondji (“Zidane: un portrait du XXième siècle), Lance Acord (”Marie Antoinette"), Agnès Godard (“L’intrus”), Eric Gautier (“Private Fears In Public Places”, “Esther Kahn”), Denis Lenoir (“demonlover”), Julien Hirsch (“Lady Chatterley”), Pedro Costa (“Colossal Youth”, “No quarto da Vanda”), Christophe Farnarier (“Honor de cavalleria”), Michael Coulter (“The Long Day Closes”), Raoul Coutard (“Passion”, “Contempt”), Emmanuel Machuel (“Van Gogh”, “Casa de lava”), José Luis Alcaine (“El sur”), Vittorio Storaro (“Last Tango In Paris), Mário Barroso (”A comedia de Deus"), William Lubtchansky (“Regular Lovers”, “New Wave”), Néstor Almendros (“Days Of Heaven”, “Two English Girls”), Carlo Di Palma (“Red Desert”, “Blow Up”), Aldo Scavarda (“L’avventura”), Boris Kaufman (L’Atalante), Gregg Toland (“Citizen Kane”, “The Best Years Of Our Lives”), Sven Nykvist (“Cries And Whispers”, “Offret”), Georgy Rerberg (“The Mirror”), Karl Struss (“Sunrise”), Kazuo Miyagawa (“Ugetsu monogatari”), Milton Krasner (“An Affair To Remember”), Yutaka Yamasaki (“Shara”), Jean-Yves Escoffier (“Boy Meets Girl”, “Mauvais sang”, “Les amants du Pont Neuf”), Vimos Zsigmond (“Heaven’s Gate”, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller”), Leonce-Henri Burel (“A Man Escaped”, “Napoleon”), Fabio Cianchetti (“Go Go Tales”), Yves Cape (“Flandres”), Dion Beebe (“Miami Vice”), Pin Bing Lee (“Café Lumière”, “Three Times”, “The Flight Of The Red Balloon”), Robert Yeoman (“The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”), James Benning (“13 Lakes”), Thomas Mauch (“Aguirre der Zorn Gottes”)…
And many more…
Again: Nykvist. Check how after mastering their b/w work (The era of Persona and The Silence being probably the peak) he and Bergman started experimenting with colour in the late 1960ies. In The Passion (1969) Nykvist’s way of working with colour film reminds me of a little boy joyfully experimentig with a new toy he just recieved for christmas. The way they juxtapose the vast autumn and winter landscapes of rural Sweden with a variety of rigorous indoor colour schemes is plainly astonishing. Throughout the film they maintain a highly stylised look, which seems oddly realistic on first glance.
Barry Ackroyd, DP in most of Ken Loach’s movies. I really like his work with natural light and the use of long focal lenses.
Conrad Hall (Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy, Searching For Bobby Fischer, A Civil Action, American Beauty, Road To Perdition)
Robert Richardson (Platoon, JFK, Casino, Bringing Out The Dead, Kill Bill, The Aviator)
Roger Deakins (Sid and Nancy, Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, No Country For Old Men)
Robert Elswit (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood)
Harris Savides (The Game, Elephant, Birth, Zodiac, Milk)
Emmanuel Lubezki (Sleepy Hollow, Y Tu Mama Tambien, The New World, Children of Men)
John Toll (Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, The Thin Red Line, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky)
Nestor Almendros, Days of Heavan
Emmanuel Lubezki, generally
christopher doyle for Fallen Angels, a very underrated film by wkw.
and freddie francis for cape fear, a very memorable film if only for photography.
Maybe there is still one to add
John C. ….. Rosenlund (Den brysomme mannen)
My favorite will always be Vilmos Zsigmond
McCabe & Mrs Miller, The Hired Hand, Images, Deliverance, The Long Goodbye, Scarecrow, The Sugarland Express, Obsession, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, Heaven’s Gate, Blow Out, The Witches Of Eastwick, The Two Jakes, The Bonfire Of The Vanities, The Crossing Guard, The Ghost And The Darkness, Melinda And Melinda, The Black Dahlia
I like Zsigmond a lot too, but other than The Black Dalhia, I haven’t seen much from him recently that was particularly striking.
Carlo Di Palma, Sven Nykvist, Xiaoding Zhao
I think Roger Deakins (Jesse James,The Man Who Wasn’t There) is one of the best cinematographers working today. I also like Emmanuel Lubezk’s work in Children Of Men. Another brilliant cinematographer is Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood).
One that I’ll mention here who doesn’t get much notice is Burnett Guffey, who did great work in B&W and color and was honored by his peers for both: Oscars for From Here to Eternity and Bonnie and Clyde. Others: The Harder They Fall, In a Lonely Place, All the King’s Men, and Birdman of Alcatraz. There’s also a generally unnotced Lang film he shot, Human Desire.
EVERYBODY already mentioned is superb.
So I’m going to mention another not yet mentioned, and equally superb:
Nykvist was the best.
Asakazu Nakai is the most underrated of all time.