Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Fifties for 2010: Best Cinematography

Following my picks for the best directors and screenplays. And no, despite costume and hair, Ben Stiller and Tahar Rahim were not separated at birth, though I'd love to see Rahim's take on Roger Greenberg.

Robbie Ryan for Fish Tank, for the intimacy and the claustrophobia in his 4:3 framings, achieving crackling color, light, and composition within social-realist bounds;

Harris Savides for Greenberg, for making Angeleno sunrays bland, merciless, and offhandedly enchanting in different scenes, and signaling unspoken affects so eloquently;

Yorick Le Saux for I Am Love, for unbombastic floridity, tweaking old styles with modern agitations and candor, and proving as chameleonic as Tilda in their two collabos;

Martin Gschlacht for Lourdes, whose crisp lenses and chipper colors evoke banal artifice, yet he coaxes uncanny depths from slow movements, patience, and eerie closeups; and

Stéphane Fontaine for A Prophet, who traverses a wild array of palettes and visual environments, grotty to sun-drenched, but coheres them through sustained visual energy.

Extremely honorable mentions to five runners-up who offered such strong work I'd consider them an above-average field in and of themselves: Michael McDonough's cold, steely, location-specific lensing of Winter's Bone, with some exciting departures from realism; Pawel Edelman's deliciously sinister handling of depth, framing, and geometrically blocked spaces in The Ghost Writer; Thimios Bakatatakis's tense, unsettling synthesis of Buñuel, Arbus, and Haneke in Dogtooth; Bernhard Keller's subtlety with flesh tones and bodily movements under the Italian sun in Everyone Else; and Adam Arkapaw's hot white silhouettes and precise framing in Animal Kingdom, which also handles close-ups very well as long as they're not gratuitously heavy on the zoom.

Further honorable mentions to Hong Pyung-kyo's vivid lingering on faces and colors, such that Mother seems controlled but ever-ready to go berserk; Barry Ackroyd's dependably active camerawork and deft nighttime shooting in Green Zone; and Eric Gautier's atypically pop-brite but characteristically shrewd lighting of Wild Grass, a fruitful matching of his sensibilities with Resnais's.

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Anonymous Guy Lodge said...

A huge hurrah to three of your five picks, and understanding appreciation of the other two. I did note the virtually character-like presence of light in Greenberg, though I think Savides and Baumbach's last collaboration featured more interesting compositional work, and while there's no denying the beauty of I Am Love, I found the perfume-ad sheen of it all a little distancing.

My mid-term report would repeat much of yours, plus Philipp Blaubach for The Disappearance of Alice Creed. And while it's cheating somewhat to include unreleased festival fare, my year-end ballot will certainly consider Luca Bigazzi (Certified Copy), Michael Fimognari (Au Revoir Taipei), Gareth Edwards (Monsters), Andrij Parekh (Blue Valentine) and Christophe Beaucarne for his terrific Cannes double-shot of Tournée and Outside the Law. (If only the Cannes jury still gave out that Technical Grand Prix.) It's looking like a rather good year.

8:54 AM, August 28, 2010  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Does Cannes officially not give out the Technical Grand Prix anymore?? That's too bad.

9:48 AM, August 28, 2010  
Blogger tim r said...

I think Guy's "perfume-ad sheen" only applies to odd bits of I Am Love. It's the supple variety of its visual choices that impresses me – worlds away, surely, from the one-look-hammered-hard rigidity of Il Divo or Vincere. It's sometimes borderline sloppy in ducking away from obvious saturation and leaving us with something rather wan or underexposed, but I hugely appreciated how unpredictable this scene-by-scene approach was, and I'm glad to see it on here.

I second Guy's Blaubach and Bigazzi mentions, and all your others. (Having found Margot at the Wedding dispiritingly drab, myself, I was pleased with the way Greenberg looked.)

2:24 PM, August 28, 2010  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

Nice to see Le Saux here, I loved his work on Julia and he's just as good here. If only Tilda could employ him as her cinematographer for all of her films.

I do admit that I Am Love is sometimes 'perfume commerical'-esque, but there's no denying the power of some of his compositions. Tilda, through the doorway, near the end, burns bright in my mind particularly.

Certified Copy would be on my list, but it's yet to come out here officially, I just caught it at the festival. Some of those close-ups are just shattering

4:30 AM, August 29, 2010  

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