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The 50 best shot films between 1998 and 2008


Amélie took top honors for Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC

What was the best shot film between 1998 and 2008? And who is the cinematographer? The winner is Bruno Delbonnel for his work as director of photography for 2001’s Amelie, according to American Cinematographer magazine. The monthly publication of the American Society of Cinematographers took a poll of 17,000 worldwide subscribers, coming up with a top 50. The list is a who’s who of DP’s. Only one cinematographer was named twice in the top ten: Conrad Hall placed 8th and 10th for Road to Perdition and American Beauty.

“This is a real honor for me, especially considering the other movies in this list,” said Delbonnel. “These are some of the finest cinematographers, and I’m not sure I deserve to be among them, but I am very happy to be. They are all explorers.”

Delbonnel received an Oscar nomination for best cinematography for Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film has been hailed for its heightened color palette and long takes. It was the first of three Oscar nods for the French D.P. He was nominated this year for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and in 2005 for A Very Long Engagement. Engagement won the ASC award for best feature film cinematography.

The poll is a follow-up to one published in 1999 by the magazine, in honor of the American Society of Cinematographers’ 80th anniversary; that vote covered the best-shot movies of 1894-1997,

“The wealth of great cinematography during this 10-year period was truly staggering, and the variety and scope of this Top 10 is the tip of the iceberg,” commented Michael Goi, president of the American Society of Cinematographers. “What’s immediately evident is how international the craft of cinematography truly is.”

AC asked its international audience of subscribers to nominate 10 films released between 1998 and 2008 that they believed had the best cinematography. A final ballot listing the 50 most popular nominees was selected, and the final vote was open to the public. More than 17,000 people around the world participated. An article discussing the poll is in the August issue of AC.

The Top 10

1.      Amélie: Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC (2001)
2.     Children of Men: Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC (2006)
3.      Saving Private Ryan: Janusz Kaminski (1998)
4.      There Will Be Blood: Robert Elswit, ASC (2007)
5.      No Country for Old Men: Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (2007)
6.      Fight Club: Jeff Cronenweth, ASC (1999)
7.      The Dark Knight: Wally Pfister, ASC (2008)
8.      Road to Perdition: Conrad L. Hall, ASC (2002)
9.      Cidade de Deus (City of God): César Charlone, ABC (2002)
10.  American Beauty: Conrad L. Hall, ASC (1999)

The 40 other nominees placed as follows:

11) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Deakins); 12) Tie: In the Mood for Love (Christopher Doyle, HKSC, and Mark Li Ping-bin) and Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Navarro, ASC); 13) The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Andrew Lesnie, ASC, ACS); 14) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Ellen Kuras, ASC); 15) Gladiator (John Mathieson, BSC); 16) The Matrix (Bill Pope, ASC); 17)The Thin Red Line (John Toll, ASC); 18) The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Kaminski); 19) Slumdog Millionaire (Anthony Dod Mantle, BSC, DFF); 20) Tie: Eyes Wide Shut (Larry Smith, BSC) and Requiem for a Dream (Matthew Libatique, ASC); 21) Kill Bill (Robert Richardson, ASC); 22) Moulin Rouge (Donald M. McAlpine, ASC, ACS); 23) The Pianist (Pawel Edelman, PSC); 24) Hero (Doyle); 25) Black Hawk Down (Slawomir Idziak, PSC); 26) O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Deakins); 27) Babel(Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC); 28) Lost In Translation (Lance Acord, ASC); 29) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Peter Pau, HKSC); 30) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Claudio Miranda, ASC); 31) The Man Who Wasn’t There (Deakins); 32) The New World (Lubezki); 33) Sin City (Robert Rodriguez); 34) Atonement (Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC); 35) Munich (Kaminski); 36) The Prestige(Pfister); 37) Memoirs of a Geisha (Dion Beebe, ASC, ACS); 38) The Aviator (Richardson); 39) Zodiac(Harris Savides, ASC); 40) The Insider (Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC); 41) Gangs of New York (Michael Ballhaus, ASC); 42) Tie: Brokeback Mountain (Prieto) and The Fountain (Libatique); 43) The Fall(Colin Watkinson); 44) The Passion of the Christ (Caleb Deschanel, ASC); 45) Snow Falling on Cedars (Richardson); 46) House of Flying Daggers (Xiaoding Zhao); and 47) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Eric Adkins).

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