My Favorite Film Cinematography, Part 1

To me, a film’s cinematography is often one of the more memorable and intriguing aspects. It’s the visual beauty that really remains in my mind and will make me pop in a favorite movie of mine simply so I can enjoy the gorgeous scenery on my screen.

Other times, I like to filter in on the camera movement and how it reflects the plot. Sometimes, it’s the lighting that catches my attention and how it conveys a certain mood or tone for a particular scene. All of these elements make up the cinematography and it can truly be a work of art.

I’ve compiled a list of films that have memorable and interesting cinematography elements.

There are aspects of cinematography utilized to convey a deeper meaning than what is told through the plot or in the dialogue.


Sometimes cinematography is utilized to convey a deeper meaning that what is told through the plot or in the dialogue. A great example of this is “Shame”, directed by Steve McQueen. The film chronicles the life of sex addict Brandon(Michael Fassbender) and his damaged relationship with his sister, Sissy(Carey Mulligan). It’s an incredibly well directed and acted film and the cinematography enriches the story being told.

The opening shot of the film is of Brandon lying in bed, partly covered by his steel blue sheets. He has a vacant look in his eyes and almost appears like he is dead, until he blinks his eyes and then gets out of bed. The color scheme is muted and bland. Any following scenes where Brandon is in this same mind-sight, this bland color scheme remains.


It’s when Brandon indugles in his addiction that the colors change. His surroundings are no longer cold and muted, but instead they come to life. The colors are warm and golden. It’s an interesting visual metaphor for the character study of the film.



When I think about gorgeous cinematography, I always think of “Atonement”. The film, directed by Joe Wright, is based on the novel by Ian McEwan. Briony Tallis(Saoirse Ronan), a 13 year old girl, accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime that he did not commit. The lives of the sister, Cecilia Tallis(Keria Knightley) and lover, Robbie Turner(James McAvoy) are permanently changed by Briony’s accusation.

The images in the film are vivd and beautiful. All of the shots in the film are gorgeous to look at. With some of the shots, there is a painting-esque beauty to them. I could very easily frame the shots and put them on my wall. Here are some of those gorgeous shots:

ATONEMENT 20 atonement-1 atonement-d Atonement10

The film not only has stunning imagery, but there is some impressive camera work as well.

The scene, which is all one cut, takes place on a beach during WWII. It incorporates a spanning long Steadicam shot that weaves in and out and around people and horses, involves sound cues, moving vehicles and pyrotechnics. It’s a shot that took a lot of work to make it look as incredible as it does. Everything had to be timed perfectly and most of the footing was on sand. It’s a stunning feat of camera work and impresses me every time I see it. You can view the scene on this vimeo page.




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