Top 10 Cinematography Shots of the Year – 2016

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Movies in 2016 had an impact visually on the big screen as the quality of work from the DoP’s and the directors vision resulted in turning out to be a visual treat for the audiences. Looking at the detailing and the frames, the desired effect and the authenticity remains to be strong in this list of the Top 10 Cinematography Shots of the year – 2016. (If you have missed on any of these films in 2016, check out their trailers and pick your choice)

1.) “LA LA LAND”
Director of Photography: Linus Sandgren, FSF

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“When we found the location, we had to adapt. The sun was limiting in that the desired camera move would not be possible in one long take without shadowing the actors. It was multiple levels of synchronisation between drivers and crane operators, and also precision drivers in the cars that would fill in the traffic. There were hidden tricks on this shot, but it’s fairly analog. Damien [Chazelle] wanted the camera to be like a character in the film. He wanted to give the sense of being there and watching it breathe and not doing any cuts, and then hopefully you would appreciate the numbers better because you were involved.”

—Linus Sandgren

2.) “THE BIRTH OF A NATION”
Director of Photography: Elliot Davis

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“I was trained as an architect and there are many structural visual elements that were incorporated in an architectural way. This is one of them. The whole film is really encapsulated in this frame. It’s a very stark reading of a complex idea. It’s about the polarization of a system and of a people liberating themselves from an oppressor. But there’s no pretense of friendly fascism and slavery. The role of religion is delineated between the two conflicting sides, the slaves on one side, and the dying system on the other.”

—Elliot Davis

3) “SNOWDEN”
Director of Photography: Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF

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“In this scene, I wanted to allow for potential innovative dialogue or improvisation. We linked the two shooting sets for recording both characters simultaneously, through high-quality projection of Corbin onto the screen at the set where Snowden stands to face him. I also wanted to seize this one opportunity in the last meeting between these two characters, to underline, visually, the degree of power and influence bestowed on a superior officer, and to give Rhys [Ifans] the necessary tools to visually enhance this theme by using the space in the frame I allotted to him.”

—Anthony Dod Mantle

 

4) “LEMONADE”
Director of Photography: Chayse Irvin, CSC

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“There was a compositional arc throughout the whole collaboration with Khalil [Joseph], a desire to conceal a lot of information in the frame, or at least the most important information. This shot is a great example of that, because we’re concealing her face with that coat she’s wearing. It was this kind of beast or this mythical creature starting to transform. And what Khalil did with the sound was captivating and interesting. His form of editing is beautiful. He’s constantly stitching together the most contrasting of images to give some sort of metaphor or meaning that resonates on a subjective level.”

—Chayse Irvin

5) “DON’T BREATHE”
Director of Photography: Pedro Luque

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“It’s a great way of introducing the geography and making the house credible. But also it’s a symbol for the whole movie, because you see all of the things that will come into play later. There’s a sense of a bigger order of things. We talked a lot about ‘Panic Room.’ It’s very elegant and beautiful, but the cinematography we did in this movie was a little more expressive in a way, where colors are stronger and shadows are more pronounced. But this was like a mini-‘Panic Room.’ We had a stage, but it was small compared to Fincher!”

—Pedro Luque

6) “ARRIVAL”
Director of Photography: Bradford Young, ASC

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“That shot was a total gift: All that fog appeared out of nowhere. We took off early in the morning to shoot the valley before the sun came up. To the right was the St. Lawrence River and to the left was just these mountains and rolling hills. And then we cleared a ridge line and there it was, that fog rolling off the St. Lawrence. It was like, ‘Hold on, is this really happening?’ That’s all in camera. It’s one of those happy accidents where the movie gods are looking out for you. An aerial shot that was just going to be the most mundane shot in the history of cinema turns into something really special.”

—Bradford Young

7) “JACKIE”
Director of Photography: Stéphane Fontaine, AFC

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“We wanted a very strong texture and a great deal of saturation. The best way to mimic it was to use film stock, as opposed to trying to find the right plugin in post after using a digital camera. In this shot, we’re almost seeing things from Jackie’s perspective. It adds to the intimate feeling that we looked for. Most of the time she’s centered in the frame, which helps translate the fact that she’s part of a bigger picture and she’s always overwhelmed. At one point we were even tempted to shoot in 4:3, which would have been quite extreme, but we ultimately settled on the 1.66:1 aspect ratio.”

—Stéphane Fontaine

 

8) “MOONLIGHT”
Director of Photography: James Laxton

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“This was in the script, so we knew we were building to this moment. We wanted an image that would be everlasting in the audience’s minds, something that evokes some strong emotional consequences. I think it’s almost like asking the audience to be contemplative and have a moment to think to yourself about what you just watched. I think it’s just asking us all to think about each other and think about these characters to try and find some humanity within us all that connects us. We all have these very similar experiences in our lives on some level and we can all relate to each other.”

– James Laxton

 

9) “KRISHA”
Director of Photography: Drew Daniels

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“Every shot in the movie was supposed to suggest Krisha’s point of view. This was one of our Altman kind of shots. Instead of cutting into coverage — because obviously you want to end this scene in a close-up — we start zooming once the conversation begins taking a turn for the worst. First we push in on a dolly to elevate the intensity of the conversation, and the zoom, that’s when we’re just going totally subconscious. Krisha has zoned out and you can tell it’s not going to go right. The zoom pushes past her guard and into her psychology, where basically she feels isolated and there’s this total disconnect from her son.”

—Drew Daniels

 

10) “SILENCE”
Director of Photography: Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC

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“We weren’t very clear in general about how he was going to see these faces of Christ that are described in the book and the script. Here, it ended up being this painting from Goya. This shot was an important moment where you would think Rodriguez is starting to lose his mind in his confusion of where Christ is and the silence of not answering his prayers. Jesuits try to mold their way of life and spirituality in Christ himself, and I think this moment speaks to that, as well as that confusion of, ‘How would Christ behave in this situation?’”

—Rodrigo Prieto

Just like an artist who would want his piece of art to stand out, by giving it the perfect execution; with filmmakers, it works according to the execution of the DoP keeping in mind his directors vision for the story to put forward the appropriate message. Kudos to the films of 2016 for a remarkable body of work, which will be remembered by film buffs as a learning tool.