I disagree about Deakins' style being drab. Certainly it can be, but he's not a one-trick pony by any stretch of the imagination. I've thought his work on movies like The Big Lebowski, The Hudsucker Proxy and the forthcoming Hail Caesar seem to have a a very rich color palette, very clear cinematography.. all to the point that it's a bit surreal. Very rich, but not what I would consider real world, and that's ok. I think those capture the idea that you're in a Coen brothers movie, and it's all a bit ridiculous and fun. But it's anything but drab. I think he did their forthcoming Hail Caesar film as well, and it has that same tone to it, and I love it.
I'm an amateur still photographer, which means I have some frame of reference. The Film vs. Digital debate is an interesting one, and most of my favorite looking movies are all shot on film. It's hard to say if that's the x factor that makes it stand apart or not.. but I think it is. I'm on board the argument for film.. but what I don't get up in arms about is digital projection, per se.. When the Dark Knight Rises came to my local IMAX dome theater, I was there to take the big image in, in all it's glory. I did it multiple times for TDK. Thought it was great.. but then I went for a repeat viewing of TDKR at AMC with digital projection (an option I didn't have with TDK), and found the experience much better. The image was crisper, brighter and clearer. Not as big, but I could see what was happening better in dark scenes. To me, there is a clear advantage to digital projection over conventional film projection. So, how the image is natively captured, and then transferred is what's key. I want to continue to see movies captured on film, but transferred at high resolution and projected digitally is just fine with me.