How Do You Judge Great Cinematography? Fandor Studies the Visuals of the 2014 Oscar Noms
What qualifies as great cinematography to you? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have certainly run the gamut in their nominations for Best Cinematography; the group of honored films consists of a diverse selection of stories told by some of the most talented DPs of our time, which makes one wonder — what does the “best” cinematography look like anyway? Fandor has put together yet another compilation of footage from this year’s Oscar nominees in cinematography in an effort to dissect, break down, and study each of their visual artistry.
Everyone has their own criteria when it comes to judging cinematography that vary based on their own personal tastes, as well as how much importance is put on certain factors. Furthermore, the definition of what constitutes cinematography has become more complicated with the advancement of CGI and visual effects. So really, there isn’t a be-all end-all in defining great cinematography, but Fandor provides a few factors to help us think more critically about the art form: technical mastery, originality and innovation, and artistry and vision.
Those up for the Best Cinematography Oscar include The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd), Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki), Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel), Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael), and Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins), and as one would suspect given the wide array of cinematographers, the look and feel of each of these films is quite varied. For instance, two films that highlight technical mastery, according to Fandor, are The Grandmaster, which boasts stunning, almost surrealistic, highly detailed visuals, and Gravity, which makes its mark with its long, continuous shots.
Check out the selection of footage from Fandor below. They’ve taken the liberty of removing each film’s soundtrack and adding their own helpful commentary, but they suggest muting the video all together and just — watch. That’s a great way to study cinematography anyway!
And just for kicks, here’s Fandor’s video from last year that takes a critical look at the 2013 Best Cinematography Oscar-nominated films.
Be sure to check out Fandor’s article. They’ve provided great observations about the aesthetics of each film, as well as scoresheets (from 1 to 5) on how well each film performed in the given criteria.
How do you measure bad/good/great/crying-in-a-pool-of-your-own-splendor cinematography? Which film, not already nominated, would you have nominated for the Oscar this year? Let us know in the comments below.