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Top 10 Cinematographic Masterpieces

At the risk of being bombarded by hate-mail, I am doing another movie list! This is a list of the ten greatest cinematographic masterpieces. While many of these cinematographers have created more than one brilliant film, I have only included one each. Be sure to name your own favorites in the comments.

10. American Beauty 1999, Conrad L. Hall Amazon

16931  American L

Lester and Carolyn Burnham are on the outside, a perfect husband and wife, in a perfect house, in a perfect neighborhood. But inside, Lester is slipping deeper and deeper into a hopeless depression. He finally snaps when he becomes infatuated with one of his daughters friends. Meanwhile, his daughter Jane is developing a happy friendship with a shy boy-next-door named Ricky who lives with a homophobic father.

Watch the spellbinding cinematography in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity at!

9. Memoirs of a Geisha 2005, Dion Beebe Amazon


In 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named Chiyo from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto’s Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo’s bitter rival, Mameha. Under Mameha’s mentorship, Chiyo becomes the geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms Japan and the geisha’s world are forever changed by the onslaught of history.

8. The Godfather 1972, Gordon Willis Amazon


Vito Corleone is the aging don (head) of the Corleone Mafia Family. His youngest son Michael has returned from WWII just in time to see the wedding of Connie Corleone (Michael’s sister) to Carlo Rizzi. All of Michael’s family is involved with the Mafia, but Michael just wants to live a normal life. Drug dealer Virgil Sollozzo is looking for Mafia Families to offer him protection in exchange for a profit of the drug money. He approaches Don Corleone about it, but, much against the advice of the Don’s lawyer Tom Hagen, the Don is morally against the use of drugs, and turns down the offer. This does not please Sollozzo, who has the Don shot down by some of his hit men. The Don barely survives, which leads his son Michael to begin a violent mob war against Sollozzo and tears the Corleone family apart.

7. Morte a Venezia 1971, Pasqualino De Santis Amazon

Death-In-Venice 420

In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, Death in Venice, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) travels to a Venetian seaside resort in search of repose after a period of artistic and personal stress. But he finds no peace there, for he soon develops a troubling attraction to an adolescent boy, Tadzio, on vacation with his family. The boy embodies an ideal of beauty that Aschenbach has long sought and he becomes infatuated. However, the onset of a deadly pestilence threatens them both physically and represents the corruption that compromises and threatens all ideals. The closing scene is, in my opinion, one of the greatest and most tragic caught on film.

6. Barry Lyndon 1975, John Alcott Amazon

Barry Lyndon Screenshot.Jpg

Barry Lyndon, directed by Stanley Kubrick, recounts the exploits of an unscrupulous 18th century Irish adventurer (Barry Lyndon né Redmond Barry), particularly his rise and fall within English society. Ryan O’Neal stars as the title character. The Photographer, Alcott, used three f/0.70 lenses developed by Zeiss for NASA for use in the Apollo moon landings, which Kubrick discovered in his search for a lens that could film in low-light situations. The super-fast lens allowed him to shoot scenes lit with actual candlelight with an average lighting volume of only three candlepower. In fact, the film features the largest lens aperture in film history. Alcott won an oscar for his work on this film.

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5. Ben-Hur 1959, Robert Surtees Amazon


When Prince Judah Ben-Hur hears that his childhood friend Messala has been named to command the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, he is thrilled. He soon finds however that his friend has changed and has become an arrogant conqueror, full of the grandeur of Rome. When Judah refuses to divulge the names of Jews who oppose Roman rule, Messala decides to make an example of him and sends him off as a galley slave. Through fate and good fortune, Judah survives the galleys and manages to return to Jerusalem in the hopes of finding his mother and sister, who were also imprisoned, and to seek revenge against his one-time friend.

4. Apocalypse Now 1979, Vittorio Storaro Amazon

Apocalypse-Now 01

Vietnam, 1969. Burnt out Special Forces officer Captain Willard is sent into the jungle with top-secret orders to find and kill renegade Colonel Kurtz who has set up his own army within the jungle. As Willard descends into the jungle, he is slowly over taken by the jungle’s mesmerizing powers and battles the insanity which surrounds him. His boat crew succumbs to drugs and is slowly killed off one by one. As Willard continues his journey he becomes more and more like the man he was sent to kill.

3. Wo Hu Cang Long 2000, Peter Pau Amazon


This film is also known as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Li is a great warrior, famous throughout QING China for his adventurus life. He decides to give his powerful, ancient sword as a gift to an old friend of his, but soon the sword is stolen by a mysterious master of the martial arts. Now, it’s up to Li to uncover the thief and return the sword to its rightful owner.

2. Schindler’s List 1993, Janusz Kaminski Amazon

Schindlers List Red Dress.Jpg

“Schindler’s List” is the based-on-truth story of Nazi Czech business man Oskar Schindler, who uses Jewish labor to start a factory in occupied Poland. As World War II progresses, and the fate of the Jews becomes more and more clear, Schindler’s motivations switch from profit to human sympathy and he is able to save over 1100 Jews from death in the gas chambers.

1. Shichinin No Samurai 1954, Asakazu Nakai Amazon


A veteran samurai, who has fallen on hard times, answers a village’s request for protection from bandits. He gathers 6 other samurai to help him, and they teach the townspeople how to defend themselves, and they supply the samurai with three small meals a day. The film culminates in a giant battle when 40 bandits attack the village.

Notable Omissions: The Passion of Joan of Arc, 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Listverse Staff

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  • I suck at trying to pick out good cinematography. But a great list of movies nonetheless.

  • raven

    There’s something wrong with the still of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.. the guy has a super-imposed head instead of Chow Yuen Fatt. Just thought I’d let you know :)

  • Bill

    requiem for a dream? Matthew Libatique? no?

  • Bill: I love Requiem for a Dream – it is one of my all time favorite films – I just don’t think it can be ranked in the top 10 for cinematography. I am thinking of doing a top 10 drug movies – it will certainly be ranking high there :)

  • thats it! you should rename the list to:

    My! Top 10 Cinematographic Masterpieces!

  • raven: thanks – corrected.

    Juggz: The interesting thing I found in doing the research for this article, was that most of the films that won awards in this category are films that I have always loved but never really knew why. That is probably a good start :)

  • JT

    No 2001?

    C’mon man.

    And no reference to the groundbreaking work of Christopher Doyle either?

    For shame.

  • American Beauty and Apocalypse Now was a great films. I will need to see the rest on your list though.

  • JT: Yes – 2001 was brilliant – I agree. But as a photographer, Unsworth really only had the one hit. As for Doyle, rest assured he is respected here – I included Mou gaan dou on the top gangster movies.

    Andre: Start with Death in Venice – it is astounding. True art in film form.

  • JT

    jfrater: I think it’s unfair to say that he only had one hit. Tess? Zardoz? Cabaret? And anyway, the list title is ‘cinematographic masterpieces’ not ‘cinematographers’.

  • JT: okay – I concede – I will put him on the notables list :)

  • tonybrush

    nice list.

    some other notables:

    THE HUSTLER(eugen schufftan)
    -one of my all time favorites. the shadowing, the long shots, the wide angle distance shots, the close ups of minnisota fats’ hands, paul newman’s swagger around the pool table… this film is beautiful.

    ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST(tonino delli colli)
    -in combination with the score(ennio morricone) and the dialogue(mickey knox), tonino delli colli’s cinematography, makes ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST legendary. from the sweat on henry fonda’s face to the stoic glare of charles bronson, this cinematographic masterpiece is the opus of facial close ups. colli also was the cinematographer for the THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY AND SALO.

    RAGING BULL & TAXI DRIVER(michael chapman)
    -you can’t have a cinematographic masterpiece list without having at least one of these classics on it. forget the story telling, these films are pure forms of eye candy. artsy & grimy don’t usually go together, but chapman gives it to you raw and theatrical(view the lamotta/robinson fight sequences in RAGING BULL & the climax in TAXI DRIVER)… the shot of deniro(travis bickle) holding his hand like a gun to his head, is embedded in everyone’s memory after seeing this film.

    a couple of contemporary classics that i would place above AMERICAN BEAUTY:

    OLDBOY(jeong-hun jeong)
    -uncut hallway fight sequence, the lens following a purple laser light to the purple solution box… this film had everybody in the theatre left with an open jaw.

    SEVEN(darius khondji)
    -the transition from gloomy & rainy to the daylight climax took the average fan at least two viewings to catch.

    …i found your site through to the 20 optical illusions). great fucking site! i’m lovin’ the historical lists. excellent brain food.
    it’s cool that you consider lists from anybody. i will attempt submitting some lists. thanks.

  • bucslim

    Can’t really disagree with any of the choices. I like American Beauty for other reasons than the way it was shot. Barry Lyndon is an endurance test, but it’s made easier because of the lushness. The Godfather’s orange hues have stood the test of time.

    Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet probably deserves some mention here. The Last of the Mohicans was great too. Out of Africa, Psycho, The Last Emperor, Unforgiven, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, and The Sting could all be on my list. (and about 100 others)

    Also – I could never understand why Sin City didn’t win over anybody’s mind on technical matters, I think it was unlike just about anything out there.

  • Kelsi

    Very much enjoyed this list. I will have to see many of those, as I am a huge fan of good cinematography. The ones you do have on the list that I have seen I would definately have to agree with though! I am especially excited to watch 5.

  • rp

    8 1/2 and Lawrence of Arabia?

  • Bill

    good call on once upon a time in the west there, thats a good one

  • Sam

    Barry Lyndon is the best Cinematographic Masterpiece… ever

  • Mathilda

    I would like to mention Russian Ark because it was filmed in one single 90-minute long shot. It’s set in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, and includes, as the film’s marketing says “2,000 Actors. 300 Years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot.”

    It’s kind of weird to watch at first; I realized something was unusual about it but couldn’t figure out what (I am obviously not the most observant person). I think it’s worth watching the DVD just for the special feature on the production of it.

  • Diogenes

    What an odd grouping.
    In any case, I see the thought process here. Sort of Wagnerian…maybe not…I mean,,,..what the hell am I saying? a collective of impact, a grandure of a sensualized rush? ah..who knows.
    Spread the spectrum out a bit….Ah… But perhaps our seeing faculties are as limited as our creations….No, There is something more….

  • Chris

    Seven Samurai…fantastic movie.

  • Guillermo

    I remember watching “One Hour Photo” and liking how it was portrayed, also “What Dreams May Come”.Just wanted to bring these movies up and see what you guys thought, I love the list you made though.

  • The Godfather was ’72, man.

    And Hall’s cinematographic masterpiece is ‘Road to Perdition’.

    Other than that, great work. Have you ever seen any of Bergman’s work with Sven Nykvist? Just stunning stuff, I urge you to check it out because his absence here is keenly felt. I also recommend Vilmos Zsigmond, whose outstanding work can be found in ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ (which is a transcendent film for many other reasons besides).

  • Brian Moo

    YES! Akira Kurosawa was the man, I love Seven Samurai.

  • Wow – you guys certainly are film lovers! Thanks for all of the additions and corrections. The wrong date on Godfather was because I replaced another item and forgot to update the date – I will fix it now. I am going to have to try to see all of the films you have mentioned here because they all sound brilliant. Some of them were very close to making the list.

    Mathilda: large parts of that film are on youtube – it looks stunning. Thank’s for bringing it to my attention.

  • Reea

    I love this list and i wish you would make a list about movies every week at least :)
    I love American Beauty and i was happy to find it there. Why didn’t you include Pulp Fiction or Natural Born Killers? These are great movies just like all Tarantino movies. All in all-awesome list!

  • Jeremy Foster

    I’m somehow missing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Love it or hate it, every single one of them is definitely a masterpiece, even up to the extreme standard that was set in the novel.


  • Reea: I really enjoy doing the film lists so you can be sure there will be more!

    Jeremy: The Lord of the Rings was excellent – but I think the films above rank higher :)

  • Jackie

    I’m sorry but I didn’t like Apocalypse Now at all, only the last half hour of it was interesting to me.
    I read Memoirs of a Geisha but wasn’t sure if the movie would do the book justice. I’ll have to check it out though.

  • Fred

    I glad to see Asakazu Nakai for Seven Samuri but omitting Lawrence of Arabia is hard to do. Actually, I think one of the best pieces of cinematography is The Natural – every shot is gorgeous.

  • Dave

    “Pi” should be on this list

  • Gaga

    How about Polanski`s Fearless vampyre hunters, or S.Friers`s Draughtman`s contract. Also think P. Vier`s The picnic at Hanging rock or take a pick at A. Hitchock or Jerzy Mencl

  • Dave: really? I did enjoy Pi a lot but its photography never really stood out to me.

    Gaga: Excellent additions – thanks. Polanski is a Brilliant director.

  • gaga

    My mistake, Draughtsman`s contract is P.Greenaway`s.

  • Scoop

    If you are looking at Peter Greenaway and cinematographic masterpieces, then you must put in Prospero’s Books. Very heavy and difficult to watch, but so beautiful and shot on HD video instead of Film so that all of the effects were possible. I believe this is the first film ever to be shot entirely on HD video.

  • gaga: I like Greenaway a lot – I have a copy of Drowning by Numbers which is a brilliant little film and not without its share of stars!

    Scoop: I have heard of, but not seen, Prospero’s Books – it looks like I had better get a copy.

  • Grandebulla

    Where do you leave names like Nestor Almendros, Jordan Cronenweth (Blade Runner), Alex Thomson (Excalibur), Conrad Hall, Vilmos Zsigmond……
    All these people are exceptional masters!!!

  • Grabdebulla: Conrad Hall is on the Top 10 Best of the Best in Movies.

  • Valerio

    Consider also, as a true masterpiece, “Stalker” (1978) directed by Andrey Tarkovski – Russia

  • Dave

    Dave: really? I did enjoy Pi a lot but its photography never really stood out to me

    Of course, it was brilantly shot.

    Iam kinnda biased twards it since its my favorite movie of all time so it should be on every top 10 list.

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  • PLT

    Top 10 Cinematographic Masterpieces and no Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)?

  • PLT: Welles is listed on the greatest in movies list, and Citizen Kane is on the Top 15 Amazing Long Takes

  • Xavier

    I’m surprised Amelie is not on this list. But still great movies, and great list once again.

  • It looks like you could easily amend this to a top 100 list!
    My two cents: for pure cinematography I would recommend Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio, and Ran by Kurosawa.

  • Richard: you strike at my heart strings with Koyaanisqatsi – for the music by Philip Glass whom I love!

  • suzi

    That was so interesting about the lenses in Barry Lyndon. I’m exploring the effects of shallow DOF and fast lenses right now in photography. I’ll have to go take a look at that movie.

  • pande

    how come u didn’t add Lord of the Rings, Lawrence of Arabia, Fiddler on the Roof,Brokeback Mountain including many others.
    Iknow cinematography is credited by viewer perception but if u had followed the rules of basic picture composition then u would notice that u have left out quite a few names that would easily rank high on the list. By the way Citizen Kane should have been on top of the list

  • Ruairi

    Hero was superb in this respect. Lost in Translation was also beautiful. great list

  • eric n.

    nice list. also bladerunner, the mosquito coast come to mind…

  • eric n. I love bladerunner – it is on one of the other lists here – I think it might be the top sci fi movies.

  • PhineusQButterfat

    I submit for your approval: Empire of the Sun (specifically when he encounters the plane for the first time as sparks are flying around him.)

  • Dawn

    You have missed out on Tarkovsky’s, Kurosawa’s Rashoman, Ray’s Pather Panchali and some other cinematic masterpieces.

  • Dawn

    and Motorcycle diaries, the road to perdition

  • sue

    American Beauty is an excellent film

  • Cec

    Empire of the Sun. I’m a grown man and it brings tears every time I watch it.

  • Cec: it is a brilliant film – I agree.

  • lightningclash

    Seven samurai is such a wicked movie on so many levels. The cinematography’s amazing I was surprised not to see it

  • mark

    lawrence of arabia?

  • leonbrown

    i think you could make the argument that raging bull should be on here or even a wes anderson movie

  • Lilith Hel

    two words: Sunset Boulevard

  • Ryan

    Personally, I’m rather upset that Requiem for a Dream isn’t on this list. That was one of the most powerful and touching movies i’ve ever witnessed.

  • donatello

    what about

    motorcycle diaries
    the man who wasn’t there
    brokeback mountain
    cidade de deus
    in the mood for love

  • Mark

    There are many extraordinary films that should be in this top ten list of yours but two stand out above the rest. No. 1 is “Citizen Kane”, Orson Welles and DP Gregg Toland together created, without a doubt, one of the worlds true masterpieces, and No. 2 is “RAN” one of Akira Kurosawa greatest films. He worked with three DP’s but you wouldn’t know it. Their collaboration together was seamless and beautiful.

  • Wuigee

    Apocalypse Now #1

  • JKups

    Personally, I loved the cinematography for “El Laborinto del Fauno” (Pan’s Labrynth)

  • Andy L

    Yes Pan’s Labyrinth is a very good choice.

    But a new movie which has some pretty awesome cinematography is THE FALL. See it on a big screen if you still can.

  • Mark M

    I think that Alex Thomson’s work on Eureka and Year of the Dragon is some of the best cinematography that I have seen on the big screen.
    Another film whose cinematography has been criminally underrated is The Man Who Fell to Earth by Anthony Richmond.

  • Roger

    Days of Heaven?

  • Kyle

    As a young film maker I have to say that I’m confused as to how Citizen Kane didn’t make this list. If we are strictly taking cinematography, that movie is #1! That amazing deep focus shot I’m sure anyone who studies film knows about…and have you seen it on an HD television? The 35mm film stock they used for that project is better than HD and looks razor sharp and as high quality as films produced today. The use of lighting, Lens, and camera movements were well beyond the time this film was actually produced

  • Dark

    man, shawshank redemption and forrest gump were awesome! alongside with casablanca, the silence of the lambs or the return of the king…

  • Cedestra

    I think it’s funny that they threw so much talent and money at “Memoirs of a Geisha” and the movie still stunk. I mean, it wasn’t the worst film even, but they Americanized it horribly.
    They had Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe as well as other big Asian actors. Steven Spielberg and John Williams composed with Itzhak Pearlman and Yo Yo Ma on solo pieces. The cinematography was wonderful, but the movie was still- meh.

  • dustin

    the city of lost children, casshern, hero, pan’s labyrinth, great expectations (the new one), the pianist

  • W

    Disappointed at the lack of The Wizard of Oz (when the movie surprisingly changes from black-and-white Kansas to the bright colors of Oz… that has to be one of the most amazing cinema moments of all time), but you put my all-time favorite movie as number one, so I forgive you. ;)

  • Sled

    No John Ford?? Take your pick of any of his films.

  • josh

    Cinema Paradiso, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore is a great work of cinematography as well is Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Both I would recommend to someone who admires film and cinematography. Amelie is a bit weird (heads up), but still well shot and interesting!

  • dm

    Bruno Delbonnel for Amelie, Across the Universe, Infamous, Paris, Jetaime ( He is also doing Half-Blood Prince)

    Blasco Giurato for Cinema Paradiso

    Lajos Koltai for Malena and Legend of 1900

    Christopher Doyle for Wong Kar Wai films especially In The Mood For Love and Happy Together, and of course Hero

  • imAdork

    I agree with Andy. Make sure to watch the Fall if you ever get a chance to. We watched it in my photography class and everyone loved it.

  • Paro

    I generally like your lists, but I think you definitely needed to put the Korean masterpiece Hero up here…One of the most stunning films I’ve ever seen.

  • Humbert

    Glory, the 1989 Civil War movie with Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington, was stunningly beautiful on the big screen. (It won’t come across as such on the small screen, you had to see in a good theatre). Not in an artsy way, but the technical aspect of the cinematography was amazing. I couldn’t believe that none of the reviews I read about it even mentioned the cinematography. It did win the Oscar for cinematography, though, so I guess a few other people noticed.

  • Peter B

    No “The Natural”?!? Oh, please!

    No “Duellists”? Every frame suitable for…well…framing. And far superior to most of the movies mentioned here.

    No “Lawrence Of Arabia”?

    No “Alien” (yes, I know that’s two Ridley Scott movies here, but let’s face it…Ridley’s probably the greatest cinematographer/director there’s been, and that even includes Kubrick. Perfectly symmetrical composition does not a movie make.)

    Very pleased to see “Across The Universe” mentioned. Astonishingly put together movie. Highly underrated.

    “Wings Of The Dove” (amazing widescreen compositions)

    “The Empire Strikes Back”.

    Some of the choices here (“Casshern”; “Brokeback Mountain”; “American Beauty”) I would rate — at best — as “average”. When someone makes an argument for “Motorcycle Diaries”…well, honestly. I’d put “Zulu” or “The Man Who Would Be King” up against that, any day of the week.

  • 803cpkeenan

    I fucking love seven samurai now

  • gabi

    Good choices! Cinematography is always a hard one to figure out because there are so many good references. Along with many of your list, I’d probably include
    -Lord of the Rings
    -Pan’s Labyrinth
    -What Dreams May Come
    -Brokeback Mountain
    -RENT. Not highest on my list but of those stage-to-film adaptaions, I think it’s the best translation.

  • I4gotmyMANTRA

    I love you movie lists, don’t stop!!!

  • porkido

    Only one person mentioned Tarkovsky…sad…

  • Rily8

    What about Terence Malick’s Thin Red Line or 300 . . . I loved the Red Violin, and I agree with you dm – Delbonnel’s Amelie . . . that was delicious eye candy. I agree with the LOTR trilogy being listed those films were magical viewing experiences. Great community input here – loved reading everyone’s two cents!!

  • Misha

    Overall… I can say I like this list
    But I don’t know why you americans love American Beauty so much. What is so special about this film? I had fun watching it, the acting was good, the situations were interesting, but overall it wasn’t THAT good to place the movie in a top 10 cinematographic Masterpieces. I think there are a lot of other american movies to add to this list. American Beauty was sort of “trashy” (if the word exists)or pervert, the father of the girl having a love affair with the girl’s friend was way too much. And I don’t see where the “Beauty” is in the entire movie (well I can understand guys liking the blonde girl)

    Thank God I don’t see Woody Allen in any of the movies listed!

  • I4gotMyMANTRA

    the godfather and schindlers list: gorgeous

  • kdawg

    did anyone notice that in crouching tiger hidden dragon that you could clearly see the strings attached to the actors and props, and for some reason the people seemed to fly?

  • Amanda H.

    I loved Memoirs of a Geisha! I know its recent, but I thought that Public Enemies was amazing. The camera work gave it a real first person perspective, at least for me!

  • Slater

    City of God? Trainspotting? Citizen Kane?

  • 98bones

    I’ll add Dr. Zhivago and Jaws and second the LOTR trilogy…

  • Mark

    I know i’ll get a lot of flack for this but I consider Children of Men as having some of the best cinemotography in all of movie history. The scene with the baby being caried down the stairs is one of the most amazing pieces of cinemotography ever.

    12 Angry Men I’d also consider one of the best simply the way the cinemotography is able to capture the intensity of the situation in two very bland rooms

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  • timefillmyeyes

    I very much agree with Schindler’s List being on here. That was a brilliant movie. I also think that What Dreams May Come belongs on here. That movie has my all time favorite cinematography.

  • darkm

    Nice list :D Although “best” cinematography is a variable term depending on the taste :D

    If it was me id have replaced one of the movies with “The fountain”.. because by my belief effects also depend on the cinematography.. and the effects in the fountain incorperate very minimalistic CG and more of maro photography..

    If u havnt watched it might i suggest watchin it and reading about the effects and how they were made.. :D

  • Fenek

    Where is Rashomon, 8 1/2, Persona, PickPoket?!?!??!

  • Ole Bole

    This list is BAD… Best cinematography? What about Tarkovsky, Felllini and for example 2001?

  • Nicole M

    Cough…Gone With the Wind…cough…should be number one.

  • WordyGrrl

    I’ve read so many great movie lists on this site, and yet Leni Reifenstahl never gets any credit for her groundbreaking work in cinematography. If you can set aside that the work she did was for the Nazis, it’s some amazingly beautiful work. She did invent a few tricks like the tracking shot (camera on “train tracks”) and so on that no one had ever used before.

  • Wakennagarie

    You should include Lost in Translation..every shot perfect and beautiful

  • I hate to be the one with “what about…” but I sincerely think that Casablanca and The Shawshank Redemption are missing from this list.



  • billy mcT

    hell yeah!! that is one of the greatest movies of all time!!! I cry every time!

  • Another Monkey

    I feel compelled to disagree with “American Beauty” believing “Road to Perdition” to be his best work yet and I also kinda disagree with “Memoirs of a Geisha.” I mean what about “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”, Gus Van Sant’s “Death Trilogy”, or the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Guillermo Del Toro, Terry Gilliam, Wes Anderson, Alejandro Jordorowsky, Paul Thomas Anderson, Hitchcock… ?

  • another monkey

    oh and Tarsem

  • ok computer

    i'm surprise that no tarkovsky and kieslowski in this list.. bad list.. just plain BAD!

  • maggie

    sweet list and the people who are bitching about why their favorite movies aren't on there need to shut up and understand this is an opinion driven list
    but one thing is wrong and its Schindler’s List
    it is somewhat true, he did use jewish people as employees but he did not save any of them from being taken away

  • Walkbyname

    You know, Apocalypse now is also featured on the "top ten most overrated movies" list.

    C'mon show some consistancy

  • Will Trame

    Fellini’s “Satyricon”. I saw that flick and it turned me into a vegetarian…for only about a month, though.

    I like Ben Hur. I try to view it when it comes on, which is usually every Easter. I also have a preference for “The Robe” and “Demetrius and the Gladiators”. Jay Robinson played a very convincing Caligula in those two.

  • In addition to the fine choices already submitted I add- Terrence Malicks "Days of heaven" , "Indochine", "Picnic at hanging rock" "the piano", "A room with a view" "Goodfellas" "Giant" Everything by Kubrick is a masterpiece! Ang Lee´s films in my opinion have the best current cinematography each one is gorgeous "sense and sensibility" "brokeback mountain" even "the hulk" was a feast for the eyes .Also the guy who did "Boogie nights" and "magnolia" something Anderson is brilliant,

  • Skye

    Memoirs of a Geisha is a great movie :) Happy to see it on the list!

  • Dev

    And the Oscar goes to “Inception”

    Movie is worth to watch. You will find all the drama, acting, cinematography at one place.

    Story is something related to all of us…About dreams inside dreams…

  • Dionysus

    In another list, Apocalypse Now is stated as being one of the most underrated movies

  • Srefford

    Some good choices, but ten is too restrictive a number. I can think of many that would deserve equal recognition for cinematographic qualities; In no particular order – Blade Runner, 2001, Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys, Brazil, Flesh+Blood, Heavenly creatures, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly….


  • dan

    Ladies and gentleman: the most pretentious top 10 movies list ever!

  • fendabenda

    Oh dear, where were you you when God distributed brain cells? The only remotely tolerable films on your list are #1 and #3. Oh wait a second… I'll take some of my comment back… because at least you didn't mention many Hollywood or American films. BUT: where's Ingmar Bergman? Fritz Lang? Alfred Hitchcock? F.W.Murnau? Guillermo del Toro? Takeshi Miike?

  • Spaceflightengineer

    "American Beauty"??? You have GOT to be kidding! That POS reeks of 1971 American TV Movie of the week fare- and actually not enough material for a one hour series episode. It and "Memoirs of a Geshia" are so gawd awful (Geisha's director needs to quit- that film and his "Chicago" are the most over rated, over hyped crap!) But- you redeem your list by including "Barry Lyndon" the most unknown and 2nd most magnificent Kubrick opus.

  • tomdavidson123

    Seriously. Just look at the trailer and tell me it doesn't deserve a mention.

  • Andrew

    You are a terribly misinformed and bigoted person.

  • Ronnie

    House of flying daggers has the best cinematography ever, watch the clip with the bean and the drums or the field after the battle it’s perfect

  • Piper

    Did NOBODY see ‘Secretary’?!? The shot on the bridge, his whole office, her in the pool, the milk bath, not to mention the bathing scene and subsequent sex scene. I know it was supposed to be a campy black comedy, but no one can deny that it was a beautiful film.
    And what about ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.’ not my favorite movie by any means, but beautiful nevertheless.

  • Chaine

    I feel like you should have included “La Vita e Bella” or “Life is Beautiful.” Its an italian movie about a jewish family in the midst of World War 2. It’s probably one of my favorite movies. =)

  • Andie=)

    awww. love it. Memoirs of a geisha is my absolute favorite. And Ziyi Zhang too.

  • Name

    e.t. jurassic park toy story 3 and 1 fantasmic the dark knight STAR WARS indiana jones it’s pat (just kidding te he) gone with the wind and AVATAR the best of them all!!!

  • Bobo

    Very fine list. Another add should be “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”, a Robert Altman film shot by Vilmos Zsigmond. Stunning all the way. “Senance on a Wet Afternoon”, a rarely seen British film of 1964 was filmed by Gerry Turpin and is fantastic! Black and white and so well done. Also Robert Krasker, the cinematographer of “The Third Man”.

  • Donatello

    In The Mood For Love – Christopher Doyle

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  • Rob

    Poo, no Malick or Tarkovsky. Those men are the kings of gorgeous films.

  • ryan ferrera

    The omission of Tarkovsky and Wong Kar Wai/Christopher Doyle have already been noted, but let’s not forget Alain Resnais (esp. Last Year at Marienbad)

  • vermilionskin

    Great List

  • sharon keogh

    just want to say love list, but what about Cinema Paradiso, an amazing film, the way its filmed u nearly don’t have to read the subtitles. Also as one commet said above, ‘What dreams may come’ ,an unusual film that protrays a controversial topic (what happens after u die) by bringing in so many different religious views, personnal n commom beliefs ; the music within the film n the way its shot adds to this. My views anyway that those two films should be on the list. But def Cinema Paradiso

  • A Paul is a Paul is a Paul

    I guessing the guy who made this list (plus all the people who left comments) have not seen Days of Heaven. Cause if they did, there wouldn’t be any arguments.

  • Ralph

    One movie that is conspicuous by it’s absence is Hero. Is by far the most visually stunning movie I have ever seen. The plot is intriguing, and the story style is challenging to follow, but the visuals are incredible. I would put it third or fourth removing the Godfather from the list.

  • Barker

    7 Samurai is my favorite movie ! Ahhh Akira Kurosawa is the best.

  • Rae-Kat

    House of Flying Daggers is another good one!

  • Kyle

    A lot of these movies i would like to see again… None are on Netflix “play now” :(

  • scifidancer

    The Cell! Some of the most memorable, beautiful, moving, and disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen. Though I’m not sure that counts as cinematography.

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  • Clarice

    Silence of the Lambs should be on this list

  • Christopher Nihil

    To Kill a Mockingbird? The greatest American film in black and white.

  • heydoo

    How about we all go and watch the Lord of the rings one more time, eh?

  • T.B.

    Not worth a response.

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