2009 Best Cinematography Nominees

Cinematography is probably the best known of the technical awards that are often talked about.  Often, whenever a movie seems fairly technically proficient, people will use cinematography as a catch-all, but it really only refers to camera movement and the film’s cinematic look.  That said, this is probably one of the harder catagories for me to talk about, so bear with me.

  • Antichrist: The cinematography in Antichrist seems like something that was twenty years in the making.  While the opening scene’s black and white artificiality seems like a deliberate attempt on Lars Von Trier’s part to divorce himself from the Dogme 95 movement, it’s clear from the rest of the film that he has learned lessons from that trend.  The camera work here is hand held, but this is no attempt to imitate a documentary look, this is stylized and beautiful.
  • The Girlfriend Experience: This is one of Soderbergh’s smaller experimental films, but he isn’t going to let it look like one.  Soderbergh shoots in a full 2.35:1 ratio and manages to get some really lush colors out of seemingly mundane surroundings.  The even more interesting thing is that this was shot on the much buzzed about Red camera, and I’m shocked that they made something this good looking with it.
  • The Road: John Hillcoat has long been known for his films’ tough, muscular looks and this film carries on the tradition.  This is a great example of how to do outdoor cinematography well.  They clearly needed to be careful to film in perfect whether and when they didn’t they must have done some careful color correction.
  • Thirst: Park Chan-Wook’s films have always had a really vivid look to them and I think this one was the pinnacle in that regard.  Like most vampire movies, this has to have a really dark look, but there’s also a lot of contrast.  I was particularly impressed by the way blood looked in the film when contrasted with the background.
  • The White Ribbon: I almost feel like I should disqualify Black and White movies from categories like this, because that monochrome look just strikes me as beautiful no matter what the actual craftsmanship behind it is.  But my admiration for this film’s look goes beyond my fetishisation of that medium.  Haneke makes everything in the film look wildly menacing and elegant at the same time.

The Golden Stake goes to…