Cinematographers Guild Releases List Of 100 Best Shot Films Of All Time (NEWS)

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Film has always been, first and foremost, a visual medium, with cinematic language being honed well before sound was finally introduced to the format.

Now, to celebrate that legacy, the American Society of Cinematographers — which was founded on January 8, 1919 — celebrates its 100th Anniversary as a professional industry guild with the release of its list “100 Milestone Films in Cinematography of the 20th Century.”

With a cuttoff at the year 2000, the ASC membership has compiled their index of the 100 Best Shot films of all time. The Top 10 alone has both givens and surprises (like the choice at #2 being as high as it is, although certainly worthy), making for a very interesting collection and ranking. After the Top 10, however, the films are simply listed chronologically by year of release and not ranked by preference.

Of that top ten, only one cinematographer appears twice: Vittorio Storaro, for Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now (1979) and Bernardo Bertolucci‘s The Conformist (1970). In terms of directors, Coppola is the only one to have two films in the top ten: the aforementioned Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Godfather (1972).

The cinematographer who appears most in the Top 100? Three are tied with 5 films, and one has 4:

  • Vittorio Storaro – 5 (Apocalypse Now #3, The Conformist #7, The Last Tango in Paris, Reds, The Last Emperor)
  • Gordon Willis – 5 (The Godfather #5, Klute, The Godfather: Part II, All the President’s Men, Manhattan)
  • Conrad Hall – 5 (Cool Hand Luke, In Cold Blood, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Searching for Bobby Fischer, American Beauty)
  • Caleb Deschanel – 4 (Being There, The Black Stallion, The Right Stuff, The Natural)

As far as directors with most appearances, that would be Stanley Kubrick with 5. Steven Spielberg was second with 4, and several more had 3:

  • Stanley Kubrick – 5 (2001: A Space Odyssey #9, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining)
  • Steven Spielberg – 4 (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Emprie of the Sun, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan)
  • David Lean – 3 (Lawrence of Arabia #1, Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago)
  • Francis Ford Coppola – 3 (Apocalypse Now #3, The Godfather, #5, The Godfather: Part II)
  • Orson Welles -3 (Citizen Kane #4, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil)
  • Bernardo Bertolucci – 3 (The Conformist #7, The Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor)
  • John Ford – 3 (The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley, The Searchers)

Other legendary directors only appear twice, and each time with the same cinematographer. Those pairings are:

  • Martin Scorsese / Michael Chapman – (Raging Bull and Taxi Driver)
  • Powell & Pressburger / Jack Cardiff – (Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes)
  • Alfred Hitchcock / Robert Burks – (Vertigo and North by Northwest)

Meanwhile, other iconic directors had only one film make the cut (such as Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Federico Fellini) while other auteurs were entirely absent (among them: François Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu, Carl Dreyer, Sergei Eisenstein, Cecil B. DeMille, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, George Stevens, Vincente Minnelli, The Coen Brothers…to name just a few).

Finally, and most notably, not one woman appears on the entire list as either a cinematographer or director, nor are there any American artists of color. A few European and Asian filmmakers appear, but that’s all that accounts for the list’s diversity. There is, of course, The Wachowskis for The Matrix, but that sci-fi gamechanger was made in 1999 before the siblings’ gender transitions from male to female (and to be honest, I’m not sure how that then becomes designated).

To learn more about the list, its criteria, thoughts on the choices, or the ASC in general, click here for the org’s official article about the list’s release.

For an immediate comprehensive rundown, here is the entire list of “100 Milestone Films in Cinematography of the 20th Century,” as compiled by the American Society of Cinematographers.

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Top 10 – Ranked; 11 – 100 listed Chronologically 

  1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962), shot by Freddie Young, BSC (Dir. David Lean)
  2. Blade Runner (1982), shot by Jordan Cronenweth, ASC (Dir. Ridley Scott)
  3. Apocalypse Now (1979), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  4. Citizen Kane (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC (Dir. Orson Welles)
  5. The Godfather (1972), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  6. Raging Bull (1980), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
  7. The Conformist (1970), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
  8. Days of Heaven (1978), shot by Néstor Almendros, ASC (Dir. Terrence Malick)
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), shot by Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC with additional photography by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  10. The French Connection (1971), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (Dir. William Friedkin)
  11. Metropolis (1927), shot by Karl Freund, ASC; Günther Rittau (Dir. Fritz Lang)
  12. Napoleon (1927), shot by Leonce-Henri Burel, Jules Kruger, Joseph-Louis Mundwiller (Dir. Abel Gance)
  13. Sunrise (1927), shot by Charles Rosher Sr., ASC; Karl Struss, ASC (Dir. F.W. Murnau)
  14. Gone with the Wind (1939), shot by Ernest Haller, ASC (Dir. Victor Fleming)
  15. The Wizard of Oz (1939), shot by Harold Rosson, ASC (Dir. Victor Fleming)
  16. The Grapes of Wrath (1940), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC (Dir. John Ford)
  17. How Green Was My Valley (1941), shot by Arthur C. Miller, ASC (Dir. John Ford)
  18. Casablanca (1942), shot by Arthur Edeson, ASC (Dir. Michael Curtiz)
  19. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), shot by Stanley Cortez, ASC (Dir. Orson Welles)
  20. Black Narcissus (1947), shot by Jack Cardiff, BSC (Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
  21. The Bicycle Thief (1948), shot by Carlo Montuori (Dir. Vittorio De Sica)
  22. The Red Shoes (1948), shot by Jack Cardiff, BSC (Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
  23. The Third Man (1949), shot by Robert Krasker, BSC (Dir. Carol Reed)
  24. Rashomon (1950) shot by Kazuo Miyagawa (Dir. Akira Kurosawa)
  25. Sunset Boulevard (1950), shot by John Seitz, ASC (Dir. Billy Wilder)
  26. On the Waterfront (1954), shot by Boris Kaufman, ASC (Dir. Elia Kazan)
  27. Seven Samurai (1954), shot by Asakazu Nakai (Dir. Akira Kurosawa)
  28. The Night of the Hunter (1955), shot by Stanley Cortez, ASC (Dir. Charles Laughton)
  29. The Searchers (1956), shot by Winton C. Hoch, ASC (Dir. John Ford)
  30. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), shot by Jack HIlyard, BSC (Dir. David Lean)
  31. Touch of Evil (1958), shot by Russell Metty, ASC (Dir. Orson Welles)
  32. Vertigo (1958), shot by Robert Burks, ASC (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
  33. North by Northwest (1959), shot by Robert Burks, ASC (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
  34. Breathless (1960), shot by Raoul Coutard (Dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
  35. Last Year at Marienbad (1961), shot by Sacha Vierny (Dir. Alain Resnais)
  36. 8 ½ (1963), shot by Gianni Di Venanzo (Dir. Federico Fellini)
  37. Hud (1963), shot by James Wong Howe, ASC (Dir. Martin Ritt)
  38. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), shot by Gilbert Taylor, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  39. I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba; 1964), shot by Sergei Urusevsky (Dir. Mijail Kalatozov)
  40. Doctor Zhivago (1965), shot by Freddie Young, BSC (Dir. David Lean)
  41. The Battle of Algiers (1966), shot by Marcello Gatti (Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo)
  42. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), shot by Haskell Wexler, ASC (Dir. Mike Nichols)
  43. Cool Hand Luke (1967), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (Dir. Stuart Rosenberg)
  44. The Graduate (1967), shot by Robert Surtees, ASC (Dir. Mike Nichols)
  45. In Cold Blood (1967), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (Dir. Richard Brooks)
  46. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), shot by Tonino Delli Colli, AIC (Dir. Sergio Leone)
  47. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (Dir. George Roy Hill)
  48. The Wild Bunch (1969), shot by Lucien Ballard, ASC (Dir. Sam Peckinpah)
  49. A Clockwork Orange (1971), shot by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  50. Klute (1971), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Alan J. Pakula)
  51. The Last Picture Show (1971), shot by Robert Surtees, ASC (Dir. Peter Bogdanovich)
  52. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (Dir. Robert Altman)
  53. Cabaret (1972), shot by Geoffery Unsworth, BSC (Dir. Bob Fosse)
  54. Last Tango in Paris (1972), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
  55. The Exorcist (1973), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (Dir. William Friedkin)
  56. Chinatown (1974), shot by John Alonzo, ASC (Dir. Roman Polanski)
  57. The Godfather: Part II (1974), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  58. Barry Lyndon (1975), shot by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), shot by Haskell Wexler, ASC (Dir. Milos Forman)
  60. All the President’s Men (1976), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Alan J. Pakula)
  61. Taxi Driver (1976), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
  62. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
  63. The Duellists (1977), shot by Frank Tidy, BSC (Dir. Ridley Scott)
  64. The Deer Hunter (1978), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (Dir. Michael Cimino)
  65. Alien (1979), shot by Derek Vanlint, CSC (Dir. Ridley Scott)
  66. All that Jazz (1979), shot by Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bob Fosse)
  67. Being There (1979), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC (Dir. Hal Ashby)
  68. The Black Stallion (1979), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC (Dir. Carroll Ballard)
  69. Manhattan (1979), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Woody Allen)
  70. The Shining (1980), shot by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  71. Chariots of Fire (1981), shot by David Watkin, BSC (Dir. Hugh Hudson)
  72. Das Boot (1981), shot by Jost Vacano, ASC (Dir. Wolfgang Peterson)
  73. Reds (1981), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Warren Beatty)
  74. Fanny and Alexander (1982), shot by Sven Nykvist, ASC (Dir. Ingmar Bergman)
  75. The Right Stuff (1983), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC (Dir. Philip Kaufman)
  76. Amadeus (1984), shot by Miroslav Ondricek, ASC, ACK (Dir. Milos Forman)
  77. The Natural (1984), shot by Caleb Deschanel, ASC (Dir. Barry Levinson)
  78. Paris, Texas (1984), shot by Robby Müller, NSC, BVK (Dir. Wim Wenders)
  79. Brazil (1985), shot by Roger Pratt, BSC (Dir. Terry Gilliam)
  80. The Mission (1986), shot by Chris Menges, ASC, BSC (Dir. Roland Joffé)
  81. Empire of the Sun (1987), shot by Allen Daviau, ASC (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
  82. The Last Emperor (1987), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
  83. Wings of Desire (1987), shot by Henri Alekan (Dir. Wim Wenders)
  84. Mississippi Burning (1988), shot by Peter Biziou, BSC (Dir. Alan Parker)
  85. JFK (1991), shot by Robert Richardson, ASC (Dir. Oliver Stone)
  86. Raise the Red Lantern (1991), shot by Lun Yang (Dir. Zhang Yimou)
  87. Unforgiven (1992), shot by Jack Green, ASC (Dir. Clint Eastwood)
  88. Baraka (1992), shot by Ron Fricke (Dir. Ron Fricke)
  89. Schindler’s List (1993), shot by Janusz Kaminski (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
  90. Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (Dir. Steven Zaillian)
  91. Trois Coulieurs: Bleu (Three Colours: Blue; 1993), shot by Slawomir Idziak, PSC (Dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski)
  92. The Shawshank Redemption (1994), shot by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (Dir. Frank Darabont)
  93. Seven (1995), shot by Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC (Dir. David Fincher)
  94. The English Patient (1996), shot by John Seale, ASC, BSC (Dir. Anthony Minghella)
  95. L. A. Confidential (1997), shot by Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC (Dir. Curtis Hanson)
  96. Saving Private Ryan (1998), shot by Janusz Kaminski (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
  97. The Thin Red Line (1998), shot by John Toll, ASC (Dir. Terrence Malick)
  98. American Beauty (1999), shot by Conrad Hall, ASC (Dir. Sam Mendes)
  99. The Matrix (1999), shot by Bill Pope, ASC (Dir. The Wachowskis)
  100. In the Mood for Love (2000), shot by Christopher Doyle, HKSC (Dir. Wong Kar-Wai)

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