September 29, 2017

Watch: Top 10 Cinematographers in the History of Cinema

From today all the way back before cinematography was even a thing, here is a list of some of the greatest DPs of all time.

Every indie filmmaker and cinephile has a favorite DP and chances are you have your top ten carefully selected already. Chivo Lubezki, Reed Morano, and Gordon Willis are names you've most definitely heard even if they're not on your personal list, but what about Billy Bitzer, Kazuo Miyagawa, and Maryse Alberti? If those names aren't ringing any bells, you might want to take a look at this video from CineFix. In it they share their top ten list of greatest cinematographers of all time, but, as you'll soon see, it's made up of diverse DPs from different eras, film movements, and countries.

Here's the list:

  • Billy Bitzer: The Beginning
  • Gregg Toland: The Golden Age
  • Robert Burks: Transition to Color
  • Freddie Young: Technicolor and Cinemascope
  • Vittorio Storaro: New Hollywood
  • Sven Nykvist: Europe
  • Kazuo Miyagawa: Around the World
  • Janusz Kaminski: 80s and 90s
  • Maryse Alberti: Women
  • Roger Deakins: Today

I tend not to think too deeply about the quality of top ten lists, but the thing I like about this one is that it does offer selections from a wide range of different time periods, periods in cinema, and filmmaking countries, because let's get real—naming the "best" cinematographers is a subjective endeavor that will have plenty of opposition no matter who you choose. This list at least might introduce you to some great artists from the dimly lit halls of the cinematic past, giving you a bit of a history lesson while enraging you for snubbing Gordon Willis and Robert Elswit.     

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2 Comments

I'm usually cynical about these kinds of lists, but I dig the range. It's refreshing. Early cinematographers deserve more love, even when their style doesn't align with modern sensibilities, and Kazuo Miyagawa should be a household name (well, amongst movie geeks).

But, of course, the exclusion of Gordon Willis is delusional.

September 30, 2017 at 5:14AM

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Joseph Elliott
Director of Photography, , Director, Editor, Composer
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The exclusion of Vilmos Zsigmond is equally delusional.....

October 8, 2017 at 1:24PM

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