Cinematography: 100+ Films Worth Consideration

As you begin to explore films for visual appeal, you should look no further than by examining those selected as the best by some of the world’s best cinematographers. In January 2019, the American Society of Cinematographers celebrated a century by exploring and acknowledging 100 films worthy of celebration and examination.

According to cinematographer and list curator, Steven Fierberg, “the 100 films list will serve as a library of influential, key titles that all cinematographers should see as well as an educational tool for students, teachers and film lovers to better understand and appreciate the importance of cinematography. ‘It is our hope that the list will help cinematography to be better understood by the public — the audience — [and to showcase] each of us as an artist who is an essential contributor to the magic of cinema.’” (American society of cinematographers, 2019)

 the assassination of jesse james (2007)

As we continue to move forward into the next century of celebrating the art of cinematography, films will be added to the list for consideration.  

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) (more here and here)

3. Apocalypse Now(1979), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola) (more here)

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) (more here)

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) (more here and here)

10. The French Connection(1971), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (Dir. William Friedkin) (more here and here)

**The remaining films are listed in order of release

Metropolis (1927), shot by Karl Freund, ASC; Günther Rittau

Napoleon (1927), shot by Leonce-Henri Burel, Jules Kruger, Joseph-Louis Mundwiller 

Sunrise (1927), shot by Charles Rosher Sr., ASC; Karl Struss, ASC

Gone with the Wind (1939), shot by Ernest Haller, ASC

The Wizard of Oz (1939), shot by Harold Rosson, ASC (more here)

The Grapes of Wrath (1940), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC

How Green Was My Valley (1941), shot by Arthur C. Miller, ASC

Casablanca (1942), shot by Arthur Edeson, ASC (more here)

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), shot by Stanley Cortez, ASC

Black Narcissus (1947), shot by Jack Cardiff, BSC

The Bicycle Thief (1948), shot by Carlo Montuori  

The Red Shoes (1948), shot by Jack Cardiff, BSC

The Third Man (1949), shot by Robert Krasker, BSC

Rashomon (1950) shot by Kazuo Miyagawa

Sunset Boulevard (1950), shot by John Seitz, ASC (more here)

On the Waterfront (1954), shot by Boris Kaufman, ASC

Seven Samurai (1954), shot by Asakazu Nakai

The Night of the Hunter (1955), shot by Stanley Cortez, ASC (more here)

The Searchers (1956), shot by Winton C. Hoch, ASC

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), shot by Jack HIldyard, BSC

Touch of Evil (1958), shot by Russell Metty, ASC

Vertigo (1958), shot by Robert Burks, ASC (more here)

North by Northwest (1959), shot by Robert Burks, ASC (more here)

Breathless (1960), shot by Raoul Coutard

Last Year at Marienbad (1961), shot by Sacha Vierny

8 ½ (1963), shot by Gianni Di Venanzo

Hud (1963), shot by James Wong Howe, ASC (more here)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), shot by Gilbert Taylor, BSC

I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba; 1964), shot by Sergei Urusevsky (more here)

Doctor Zhivago (1965), shot by Freddie Young, BSC

The Battle of Algiers (1966), shot by Marcello Gatti

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), shot by Haskell Wexler, ASC (more here)

Cool Hand Luke (1967), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC

The Graduate (1967), shot by Robert Surtees, ASC

In Cold Blood (1967), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (more here)

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), shot by Tonino Delli Colli, AIC (more here)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (more here)

The Wild Bunch (1969), shot by Lucien Ballard, ASC

A Clockwork Orange (1971), shot by John Alcott, BSC (more here)

Klute (1971), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC

The Last Picture Show (1971), shot by Robert Surtees, ASC

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC

Cabaret (1972), shot by Geoffery Unsworth, BSC

Last Tango in Paris (1972), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (more here)

The Exorcist (1973), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (more here)

Chinatown (1974), shot by John A. Alonzo, ASC (more here)

The Godfather: Part II (1974), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (more here)

Barry Lyndon (1975), shot by John Alcott, BSC (more here)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), shot by Haskell Wexler, ASC

All the President’s Men (1976), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (morehere)

Taxi Driver (1976), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC

The Duellists (1977), shot by Frank Tidy, BSC

The Deer Hunter (1978), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (more here)

Alien (1979), shot by Derek Vanlint, CSC (more herehere and here)

All that Jazz (1979), shot by Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC

Being There (1979), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC

The Black Stallion (1979), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC

Manhattan (1979), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC

The Shining (1980), shot by John Alcott, BSC (more here)

Chariots of Fire (1981), shot by David Watkin, BSC

Das Boot (1981), shot by Jost Vacano, ASC

Reds (1981), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC

Fanny and Alexander (1982), shot by Sven Nykvist, ASC

The Right Stuff (1983), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC

Amadeus (1984), shot by Miroslav Ondricek, ASC, ACK

The Natural (1984), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC

Paris, Texas (1984), shot by Robby Müller, NSC, BVK

Brazil (1985), shot by Roger Pratt, BSC

The Mission (1986), shot by Chris Menges, ASC, BSC

Empire of the Sun (1987), shot by Allen Daviau, ASC

The Last Emperor (1987), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC

Wings of Desire (1987), shot by Henri Alekan

Mississippi Burning (1988), shot by Peter Biziou, BSC

JFK (1991), shot by Robert Richardson, ASC

Raise the Red Lantern (1991), shot by Fei Zhao

Unforgiven (1992), shot by Jack Green, ASC (more here)

Baraka (1992), shot by Ron Fricke

Schindler’s List (1993), shot by Janusz Kaminski

Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC

Trois Coulieurs: Bleu (Three Colours: Blue; 1993), shot by Slawomir Idziak, PSC

The Shawshank Redemption (1994), shot by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (more here)

Seven (1995), shot by Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC (more here and here)

The English Patient (1996), shot by John Seale, ASC, ACS

L. A. Confidential (1997), shot by Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC (more here)

Saving Private Ryan (1998), shot by Janusz Kaminski (more here and here)

The Thin Red Line (1998), shot by John Toll, ASC (more here)

American Beauty (1999), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC

The Matrix (1999), shot by Bill Pope (more here)

In the Mood for Love (2000), shot by Christopher Doyle, HKSC

Gladiator (2000)

Bonus films beyond the 20th Century

Gladiator (2000), shot by John Mathieson

The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001), shot by Andrew Lesnie

Gangs of New York (2002), shot by Michael Ballhaus

Cold Mountain (2003), shot by John Seale

The Aviator (2004), shot by Robert Richardson

Batman Begins (2005), shot by Wally Pfister

Children of Men (2006), shot by Emmanuel Lubezki

There will be Blood (2007), shot by Robert Elswit

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), shot by Claudio Miranda

Avatar (2009), shot by Mauro Fiore

Inception (2010), shot by Wally Pfister

War Horse (2011), shot by Janusz Kamiński

Life of Pi (2012), shot by Claudio Miranda

Gravity (2013), shot by Emmanuel Lubezki

Birdman (2014), shot by Emmanuel Lubezki

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), shot by John Seale

La La Land (2016), shot by Linus Sandgren

Blade Runner: 2049 (2017), shot by Roger Deakins

Roma (2018), shot by Alfonso Cuarón

1917 (2019), shot by Roger Deakins

Mank (2020), shot by Erik Messerschmidt

 American society of cinematographers. (2019, January 8). ASC list of 100 milestone films in cinematography of the 20th century. Retrieved from https://theasc.com/news/asc-unveils-list-of-100-milestone-films-in-cinematography-of-the-20th-century

Manning II, N. T. (2021, February 7). Picture this: Cinematography of the 21st century [PDF lecture notes].

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