I would be an understatement to say I have questionable authority to discuss cinematography. I'm a story guy. I go the the movies primarily for the writing and the acting and while I can appreciate when something looks good, its the failing I'm most likely to forgive if things don't go quite right. So believe me, if you disagree with this list you're probably right. I am basing my decisions here on the memory of " Wow, that looks awesome!"
10) Gary Shaw, Moon
I did love this movie, But its calm, almost quiet visual style certainly added to it. I think its pretty difficult not to make space look awesome, but I think this movie was shot a little more interestingly then the usual space-set crowd.
9) Trent Opaloch, District 9
I think it went for this film because of the way it shot its action sequences. It would have been easy for this movie to shroud them in shaky-cam impenetrability, given its occasional faux-documentary format but it didn't and I thank it for that. Plus the whole thing looked pretty awesome anyway.
8) Mauro Fiore, Avatar
Yes, this movie is immature, silly and very badly written but credit where credit is due. It looks amazing. That's what this is all about right. Its gazillion Oscars will be pretty much down to this guy.
7) Roger Deakins, A Serious Man
Deakins, whose made more Coen Brothers movies the John Goodman has kind of become the world's premier cinematographer and rightly so. His visuals are part of what makes the Coen brothers off-kilter worlds work. A Serious Man is no exception, and this film looks unmistakably beautiful.
6) Rodrigo Prieto, Broken Embraces
Despite this being a slightly below par Almodovar movie, like nearly all of his work. Its looks fantastic. I doubt anyone had furthered the cause of great production design and cinematography in recent years more then this guy and Broken Embraces has enough visual pazazz to allow a fair amount of people to ignore the weaker writing.
5) Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker
Because he gave us the above scene, the conclusion to which is one of the most unforgettable images of cinema. Full stop. But the rest of the movie feels brutally real, largely thanks to the verite style in which it is shit. We are there in the moment, and while that is a description to fit many movies, it rarely has felt more truthful.
4) Roger Deakins, Revolutionary Road
Deakins again. It's kind of ridiculous this guy hasn't won an oscar yet isn't it. I think he has eight nominations and zilch going, which is pretty impressive in itself. Anyway, he does excellent work in this film, maybe more so then A Serious Man because the style so perfectly fits the mood and the point of the film.
3) Lance Acord, Where The Wild Things Are
Acord's work in this film is pretty textual, so I'm gona love it. The setting made to look so wondrous and lively at first, seems to be short with a state of increasing coldness and disparity as the movie progresses. Love it.
2) Claudio Miranda, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
To be honest I didn't much care for this film either, but I believe this category should be for the best, and not just the best of the films I like. Because Benjamin Button did look astounding. At times truly beautiful and its a shame that the rest of the film couldn't keep up with the work being done by this particular department, but it sure didn't.
1) Robbie Ryan, Fish Tank
Which brings me to one, and I'm going to be all radical with my choice. Rather then capture imaginary worlds or nature at its most beautiful, this film captures a particularly dank part of London. But part of what makes Andrea Arnold such a great director is her and her DOP's ability to find such beauty in what is superficially so ugly. So much is done with so little. Its near genius it is.