Was Amélie Really the Best-Shot Film of the Last Decade?

amelie_225.jpgThat's what 17,000 voters at American Cinematographer -- the house journal of the American Society of Cinematographers -- have expressed in a new poll, the results of which were slipped over Movieline's transom this morning. The dates considered are actually 1998-2008, which I guess means Avatar will have to wait for its peer-anointed glory. But back to the original question: Amélie? Really? Read on for the rest of the Top 10, a bucketful of runners-up, and to contribute your own choice.

The methodology is a little... hinky: "AC asked its international audience of subscribers to nominate 10 films released between 1998 and 2008 that they believed had the best cinematography," the release notes. "A final ballot listing the 50 most popular nominees was then posted on the ASC website, and the final vote was open to the public. More than 17,000 people around the world participated."

And somewhere -- and somehow -- along the line, Bruno Delbonnel's admittedly lovely work trumped Emmanuel Lubezki's watershed Children of Men. Chris Doyle's amazing shooting on In the Mood for Love isn't even in 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 remaining selections are below. Biggest omission? Probably Peter Deming's contributions to Mulholland Drive, right? Only one Robert Elswit film seems a pretty grave oversight as well, considering Good Night and Good Luck, Magnolia and even the underrated Punch-Drunk Love. But then he also shot Gigli, so you tell me.

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)

47. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Eric Adkins)


  • Dan says:

    Some of the films are way under-placed, such as The Thin Red Line, In the Mood for Love, and especially Hero, which should be at the top of the list.
    Some great films such as Far From Heaven, and Mulholland Drive are also missing.

  • I can't decide between getting a small digital camera like a Canon Powershot or spending the big bucks on a DSLR. Are DSLR cameras worth the extra money?

  • Darren says:

    Chan-Wook Park's OldBoy is a pretty bad omission, although I'm not sure if the masses know any of Park's movies.

  • Mariano says:

    Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really
    enjoy reading through your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects?
    Thank you!

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