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Best Cinematography? What does it entail?

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  • Shrinking_Lover
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    #61536

    Despite calling myself a HUGE film buff, I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood what a film wins “Best Cinematography” for. Does the nod include camera work and inventive camera techniques? Or does it really just come down to good ole lighting and lenses and the kind of stuff a cinematographer does?

    I was thinking about a couple years ago when I got pissed about The White Ribbon not winning Best Cinematography when I thought to myself “oh hey, I don’t even know wtf Cinematography is”. Lol someone enlighten me please. 

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    Junk
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    #61538

    I think I might as well join your group. I know it’s the camerawork and how the emotion of the scene is captured through the lens (and hence the inventive affects, lighting, angles, etc) but I too am hazy about the truest definition of it. And I suppose I have this misconception that silhouettes in a movie like in a noir film, and sweeping shots of yellow fields and meadows automatically meams great cinematography. Is it?
    And while we’re at someone please explain to me Original Score. Is it the overall soundtrack of a film, or just the background music? Some films have a different music composer responsible for Songs, and a different background music scorer. In that case, who gets the prize?

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    Shrinking_Lover
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    #61539

    I think I might as well join your group. I know it’s the camerawork and how the emotion of the scene is captured through the lens (and hence the inventive affects, lighting, angles, etc) but I too am hazy about the truest definition of it. And I suppose I have this misconception that silhouettes in a movie like in a noir film, and sweeping shots of yellow fields and meadows automatically meams great cinematography. Is it?
    And while we’re at someone please explain to me Original Score. Is it the overall soundtrack of a film, or just the background music? Some films have a different music composer responsible for Songs, and a different background music scorer. In that case, who gets the prize?

    Original Score is just the “background music” as you put it, but it has to be made specifically for the film by a composer.

    Anyway, so a film with outstanding tracking shots and even proper use of handheld camera shots, can technically be considered films with great cinematography for those reasons?

    Anyone else wanna give a crack at it? Lol       

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    Pieman1994
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    #61540

    Cinematography is how the film sets a visual context for the film. A film with good cinematography generally fits the mood of the film, has appropriate coloring and lighting, fluid continuity (this also fits under editing,) and employs a variety of techniques. Basically, all cinematography is is taking a moving photograph. What you see in the context of the scene is important. Good cinematography doesn’t just show a story unfold, but rather, it helps the story unfold. 

    Let’s consider the opening shots of The Usual Supsects, when Keaton is talking to Soze. You can’t show that the person talking to Keaton is actually Kevin Spacey, or that would ruin the whole film. 

    So there you go.  

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    Morgan Henard
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    #61541

    I’ve always heard, “That film had really good cinematography.” On the flipside, when was it ever said, “That film’s cinematography was awful”?

    -Morgan 

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    Trent
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    #61542

    I always look at cinematography as a mixture of lighting, framing and color decisions and whether or not they make sense with the overall mood of the writing of the film. Personally, I found Lubezki’s decisions on these aspects in The Tree of Life to be perfect, which is why I expected him to win.

    A good example would be Winter’s Bone. The feeling of a dark southern home with a bleak mood was met with darkness and bleak colors. That movie had brilliant cinematography, and should have been nominated in 2011, in my opinion.

    An example of a movie with downright awful cinematography is Rachel Getting Married. The camerawork itself was sloppy, and the colors didn’t seem to match the story the film was trying to tell at all. There Will Be Blood had this issue as well, which is why I’m surprised that it won this category over Roger Deakins’ excellent work in No Country for Old Men.

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    Tye-Grr
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    #61543

    ^Another with AWFUL cinematography is ‘Catwoman’. The whole thing has a hazy look to it like it’s all either a romantic novel reader’s wet dream or the lens had Vaseline on it, when really it should all look like everyone’s worst nightmare or have the lens completely covered.

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    Morgan Henard
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    #61544

    ^Another with AWFUL cinematography is ‘Catwoman’. The whole thing has a hazy look to it like it’s all either a romantic novel reader’s wet dream or the lens had Vaseline on it, when really it should all look like everyone’s worst nightmare or have the lens completely covered.

    Only it was everyone’s worst nightmare, Tye.  

    -Morgan 

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    Tye-Grr
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    #61545

    [quote=”Tye-Grr”]^Another with AWFUL cinematography is ‘Catwoman’. The whole thing has a hazy look to it like it’s all either a romantic novel reader’s wet dream or the lens had Vaseline on it, when really it should all look like everyone’s worst nightmare or have the lens completely covered.

    Only it was everyone’s worst nightmare, Tye.  

    -Morgan [/quote]

    Too true. I suppose it looked like a wet dream for the Razzies.  

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    blueprint
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    #61546

    Since lighting was mentioned, is it really the job of the cinematographer or the art director? So if I love the lighting of a certain scene who do I aknowledge for that?

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    KyleBailey
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    #61547

    Since lighting was mentioned, is it really the job of the cinematographer or the art director? So if I love the lighting of a certain scene who do I aknowledge for that?

    (I know this is an old thread but I found it searching for something else but want to bump it) 

    I’m currently in film school and lighting is all cinematography from what I understand. I think the Production Designer can have a conversation with the Director of Photographer about color schemes but the ultimate decision comes from the DP. I don’t know if that user is still active but I hope that clarifies things 

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    DominicCobb
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    #61548

    Cinematography is all about lighting and camera. The thing that makes it hard to define is that the director has a big say in what the compositions and movements are, and their role in cinematography varies from movie to movie. So you might watch a movie and say “all those camera angles were super cool, great cinematography,” but may be complimenting the director more than the DP. Same goes for editing in a way.

    So lighting is usually the best determiner of cinematographic quality and how well that blends with the camera work and the tone and style of the film.

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    Gone_Guy
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    #61549

    If someone was to ask you what you consider the best cinematography in a film ever to be, what would immediately come to mind? Maybe list top 5-10. 

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    BenitoDelicias
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    #61550

    I feel like I’ll never know enough about this subject. But I’m always looking forward to learning more. I’ve read certain things and paid attention to certain films and cinematographers to help me understand what’s it all about.

    My all time favorite is The Assassination of Jesse James. This is the movie that really got me to understand more after being so so clueless before. Roger Deakins is just a master, his work is amazing. Just another aspect that made Skyfall better than it needed to be.

    For me, Amelie is a good example of how the cinematography is just another character in the film. That was Bruno Delbonell. Who also has Inside Llewyn Davis. Dion Bebe’s work with Rob Marshall is very over the top in a good way for me, the excessive use of artificial lighting does help to clear the subject a bit in that aspect. Specially Memoirs of a Geisha. His work in Collateral is also great. When those movies came out, I was very impressed and got interested in the subject.

    Conrad Hall is another one. Butch Cassidy is great. Or American Beauty and Road to Perdition if you want to go look at his last work.

    Jeff Cronenweth, to name somebody more current whose films have plenty of fans around here.

    A really good example of good cinematography/cinematographer with certain bad decisions is The Godfather Part II and Gordon Willis says so himself in the extras for the film. There’s the famous extremely dark scene between Michael and Connie which he could have just shot a black wall and it would’ve been the same. He wasn’t nominated for Part I. For Part II he was also snubbed and considering all the different sets, locations and lighting opportunities that film had, you have to wonder how unimpressed the branch must have been. I would like to go back to that film someday and just focus on his work.

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    Jose Manuel Garcia
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    #61551

    Nestor Almedros work in “The Blue Lagoon” made a pseudo-porno teen-aging film in a beautiful shot film.

    Usually oscars give the award to beautiful films, like “Legends of the Fall” or “Braveheart” or “The Mission”
    Nowadays they go with films like “Avatar” and “Life of Pi”. Also beautfiful films to watch but 3-D 

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