40. Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Though it’s perhaps a mistake to conflate ‘great cinematography’ with ‘lots of long one-take shots,’ there have been few cinematography feats in recent years more impressive than what Norwegian DP Sturla Brandth Grøvlen pulled off with “Victoria.” Sebastian Schipper’s film unfolds in a single extremely ambitious one-take shot across well over two hours, and Grøvlen finds beauty and clarity in every minute of it. He’s no one-trick-pony, either, doing very different, but equally stunning work on Grímur Hákornasson’s UCR-winning “Rams,” and Norwegian horror “Shelley” too. Coming up is his U.S. debut, on “The One I Love” director Charlie McDowell’s “The Discovery” starring Rooney Mara and Robert Redford.
39. Mandy Walker
No woman has, up to now, been nominated for a cinematography Oscar (which is insane, but a sad reflection of the male domination of the profession), but it’s likely that the person who came closest to managing it was Australian DP Mandy Walker. The cinematographer started shooting features at home before the gorgeous “Lantana” broke her out more internationally, and she did some fine work in U.S. debut “Shattered Glass” before teaming up with Baz Luhrmann for “Australia.” The massive historical epic might not be a great movie, but it’s eye-searingly beautiful, and Walker should have been nominated for it. Since then, she stayed at home for the similarly stunning “Tracks,” made the otherwise forgettable “Jane Got A Gun” look great, and has “Hidden Figures” and Idris Elba-starrer “The Mountain Between Us” on the way — she’s one of the best classical DPs working now.
38. Dante Spinotti
Twenty years ago, it’s likely that Dante Spinotti would have topped this list, but we can’t say we’ve been in love with much of his work of the last decade, most of which has been made up collaborations with his BFF Brett Ratner. But the Italian filmographer remains a legend in our eyes despite that. He’s best known for his work with Michael Mann, beginning with “Manhunter” and continuing through stunning films like “The Last Of The Mohicans,” “Heat,” “The Insider” and the startlingly different, virtually experimental digital period piece “Public Enemies.” But he also did gorgeous work with Sam Raimi on “The Quick And The Dead” and Curtis Hanson on “L.A. Confidential,” to name but a few — not many directors can capture cities, violence and masculine angst in the way that Spinotti does. Hopefully he’ll have a true return to form soon.
37. Christopher Doyle
Not much can be said about this legend that hasn’t already been said before, whether we’re talking about his unconventional off-screen working methods or the on-screen revolutionary visual work he did with Wong Kar-wai. We celebrated Christopher Doyle’s birthday earlier this year by analyzing his 10 best shots, but the truth of the matter is that his whole filmography – yes, even post-Wong – is filled with resplendent imagination in terms of color and camera movement. Most recently, he widened our eyes in wonderment with Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s “Endless Poetry” and though he’s been more obscure than usual recently, we’re always get an extra boost of excitement when we see his name on the crew list.
36. Dariusz Wolski
As the mostly competent but anonymous work in Marvel or X-Men movies will attest, it can be hard to bring real artistry to the blockbuster, but Dariusz Wolski is one of the few to pull it off. The Polish DP broke through with Gary Oldman crime pic “Romeo Is Bleeding” before hooking up with Alex Proyas for the startling expressionist double-bill of “The Crow” and “Dark City.” But his biggest film up to that point came with the first “Pirates Of The Caribbean,” bringing an eerie fairy-tale beauty to the films and its three sequels (and delivering more chiaroscuro with star Johnny Depp for “Sweeney Todd,” though the less said about the gaudy “Alice In Wonderland” the better). More recently, he’s become Ridley Scott’s favorite DP with films including “Prometheus” and “The Martian,” but his best work in recent years might have been the dizzying imagery of Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk.”
35. Sean Price Williams
With a DP career as old as the century, Sean Price Williams has emerged recently in tandem with his frequent collaborator, Alex Ross Perry. Having shot every one of his features, the look and feel that Williams has developed for Perry’s later pictures, including “Listen Up Philip” and “Queen of Earth,” is a huge part of what makes them fly – his grainy, intrusive, claustrophobically close-up visuals beautifully complementing the themes of egotism, narcissism, and hysterical self-absorption. Beyond Perry, Williams has become a go-to guy for edgy, experimental independents, also shooting this year’s doc hybrid “Kate Plays Christine” and last year’s wild, woozy “Heaven Knows What.” Among a host of other 2017 titles, he’ll reteam with the latter’s directors, the Safdie brothers, on “Good Time” with Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
34. Reed Morano
Her powerful debut “Meadowland” has seen her launch a directing career in a big way — she’s currently helming an adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” for Hulu starring Elisabeth Moss — but Reed Morano hasn’t quite given up on cinematography yet, with her work on HBO’s “Divorce” currently airing. And that’s a great thing, because she’s one of the best to emerge in the last decade. Morano put herself on the map with gritty work on Melissa Leo-starrer “Frozen River,” and went on to be a Sundance staple with films like “For Ellen,” “Shut Up And Play The Hits,” “Kill Your Darlings” and “The Skeleton Twins.” Prolific and flexible, it’s no surprise that she’s gone into directing given her eye for an image and performance detail.
33. Yorick Le Saux
French cinematographer Le Saux has been at large for two and half decades now, but the three collaborations that probably characterize his career best have happened in the latter half. He’s worked twice with Francois Ozon – on the terrific, sleek sunshine noir “Swimming Pool,” and the brightly colored, bold-face Catherine Deneuve vehicle “Potiche.” He’s teamed three times with another fellow countryman, Olivier Assayas, on “Boarding Gate,” “Clouds of Sils Maria” and this year’s “Personal Shopper.” And he’s indulged the glamorous, luscious side of his sensibility with two Luca Guadagnino movies – the exquisite “I am Love” and the again-poolside drama “A Bigger Splash.” But perhaps his most impressive visuals came outside of these three collaborations, with Jim Jarmusch‘s heady, ornate, blood-and-wine-soaked “Only Lovers Left Alive” – a one-film manifesto of everything he’s capable of.
32. Alwin H. Kuchler
With perhaps just a little more consistency (he has a couple of duff, not very beautiful blockbusters on his CV like “R.I.P.D” and “Divergent”), we’d consider Alwin Kuchler in the same breath as a Deakins, an Elswit or a Richardson. But even if he’s further off being a household name than some of them, he’s nevertheless a real talent who’s done some staggering work. Kuchler went to film school with Lynne Ramsay, and shot her first two features “Ratcatcher” and “Morvern Callar,” doing work that at once gritty and magical. He then worked with Winterbottom and Frears before teaming with Danny Boyle for “Sunshine,” one of the most visually stunning films of the last decade. More recently, he did some inventive shooting on “Hanna” and again with Boyle on “Steve Jobs,” and this fall lensed Andrew Dominik’s “One More Time With Feeling,” pulling off some of the most fascinating camerawork of the year.
31. Barry Ackroyd
If there’s a style that British cinematographer Ackroyd is most associated with, it’s the handheld urgency of Paul Greengrass’ films, many of which – “United 93,” “Green Zone,” “Captain Phillips,” “Jason Bourne” – Ackroyd shot. That raw fluidity also came good for Kathryn Bigelow‘s Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” for which he also received an Oscar nomination. But Ackroyd’s longer collaboration has been with Ken Loach, for whom he has shot everything from early working class portraits “Riff Raff” and “Raining Stones” to period dramas “Land and Freedom” and “The Wind that Shakes the Barley.” Arguably he’s been unlucky with his choices of late barring his atypically breezy work on “The Big Short,” but with his reteam with Bigelow for her Detroit riots picture coming next year, that slump will almost certainly end.