I don’t believe enough credit is given to the visionaries behind the movie camera who make the directors look fantastic. I thought about influential cinematographers I admire as well as contemporary greats and wondered who is more important–the director or the cinematographer? If you were to direct your own film and could pick your cinematographer, who would you pick? Here are some of my favorites:
Conrad L. Hall, 1926-2003
31 Wins; 19 Nominations; 3 Oscars wins; 7 Oscar nominations
Known for: The Professionals (1966), Cool Hand Luke (1967), In Cold Blood (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Day of the Locust (1975), Tequila Sunrise (1988), American Beauty (1999), Road to Perdition (2002).
Gordon Willis, 1931 –
2 Oscar nominations, 1 Honorary Oscar win
Known for: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), All the President’s Men (1976), Manhattan (1979), Pennies From Heaven (1981), Zelig (1983), The Godfather Part III (1990)
Robert Burks, 1909-1968
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations
Paired with director Alfred Hitchcock.
Known for: Rear Window, The Birds, North By Northwest, How To Catch A Thief, and Vertigo
Roger Deakins, 1949 –
Nominated for 11 Oscars. Another 68 wins & 46 nominations.
Works with the Coen Brothers
Known for: Shawshenk Redemption, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Assassination of Jesse James, A Beautiful Mind, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, Doubt, True Grit, The Man Who Wasn’t There, No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Skyfall.
John Toll 1952 –
Won 2 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 12 nominations
Known for: Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, The Thin Red Line, Almost Famous, The Last Samurai, Iron Man 3, Cloud Atlas.
Emmanuel Lubezki, 1964 –
Won 1 Oscar. Another 70 wins & 22 nominations
Paired with director: Terrance Malik
Known for: Gravity, The Tree of Life, Children of Men, Ali, Sleepy Hollow, Meet Joe Black, To the Wonder
Robert Richardson, 1955-
Won 3 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 46 nominations
Paired with Oliver Stone early; then switched and works with Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese
Known for: JFK, The Doors, Platoon, Wall Street, Hugo, Kill Bill I & 2, Natural Born Killers, Casino, Nixon, The Horse Whisperer, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Aviator, Shutter Island, Hugo, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, World War Z.
What is your opinion about the relationship between director and cinematographer? Who are your favorite cinematographers?