30. Seamus McGarvey
He’s arguably best known for lensing Joss Whedon’s superhero smash “The Avengers,” but Seamus McGarvey’s brilliance goes far beyond that — indeed, it ironically might be his least memorable work to date. The Irish DP started alongside Michael Winterbottom with “Butterfly Kiss” in 1999, before working with directors including Tim Roth, Stephen Frears and Stephen Daldry. His best known collaboration might be with Joe Wright, and whether it’s the spectacular Dunkirk oner of “Atonement” or the giddying camera choreography of “Anna Karenina,” they’ve done great work together. His finest hours go beyond that as well, though: the use of color in “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” and use of scale in “Godzilla” are both spectacular, and, with Michael Shannon, he’s the redeeming feature of Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals.”
29. Adam Arkapaw
Most people’s eyes were opened to Adam Arkapaw’s enormous talent after he turned the Louisiana setting in the first season of “True Detective” into a swampy, decadent and wholly immersive visual wonder. But his earlier work in Aussie indies “Animal Kingdom” and “Snowtown” paved an inevitable path towards his current status of being one of the most sought-out young cinematographers around. He continued to build his strong collaboration with Justin Kurzel by dishing out one of 2015’s most visually daring films, the blood-soaked “Macbeth,” and we absolutely cannot wait for December, to see what he does for their grandest project yet, “Assassin’s Creed.”
28. Benoit Debie
One of the most fearlessly inventive and experimental cinematographers out there, (and we mean far out there – this is the guy who shot Gaspar Noé‘s “Enter the Void,” after all) the Belgian Debie has, maybe more than anyone, embraced 3D filmmaking as an artistic avenue worthy of exploration. Sometimes those explorations have been less than thrilling (Wim Wenders‘ turgid, talky dramas “Every Thing Will Be Fine” and “The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez” for example), while in some cases the 3D camerawork has been an integral part of the movie, as with Noé’s otherwise underwhelming “Love” and Andrew Dominik‘s absolutely overwhelming “One More Time With Feeling.” But Debie pushes buttons with his often spectacular style in two dimensions also, just see Noé’s “Irreversible,” Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” or Ryan Gosling’s incomprehensible but hyperstylized “Lost River” for proof.
27. Robert D. Yeoman
High-profile, prolific and eclectic, veteran DP Yeoman’s career stretches back to the ’80s and the undistinguished likes of Joe Piscopo vehicle “Dead Heat” and Anthony Michael Hall-starrer “Johnny Be Good.” But even back then, it’s like he operated on parallel tracks, with those studio films counterbalanced by Gus Van Sant’s terrific “Drugstore Cowboy.” More recently those seemingly oppositional forces have been embodied in his two main collaborations, with Paul Feig (he shot “Ghostbusters,” “Spy,” “The Heat” and “Bridesmaids“) and Wes Anderson (he’s shot all of his features from debut “Bottle Rocket” to “Grand Budapest Hotel,” barring the animated “Fantastic Mr Fox“). And Yeoman has also turned in terrific work for filmmakers as diverse as Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale“), Wes Craven (“Red Eye“) and Bill Pohlad (“Love and Mercy“).
26. Caroline Champetier
At 62, with 111 credits to her name, Champetier has spent decades being the living rebuke to the idea that there were no female cinematographers, though since the majority of her work has been outside the US, it’s not surprising she’s not well known stateside. But her trademark austere, often somber style has been gracing some of the most successful European art films of recent years, from Xavier Beauvois‘ Cannes Grand Prix winner “Of Gods and Men,” to Margarethe von Trotta‘s “Hannah Arendt” to this year’s “The Innocents” from Anne Fontaine. Most indelibly, at a stage when she could have started to rest on her laurels, she shot Leos Carax‘s tremendous 2012 mindfuck “Holy Motors” which is about 15 different films disguised as a single movie, and brought elegance, wit and energy to every one.
25. Christian Berger
Michael Haneke’s films have a signature mark of surgical austerity in their aesthetic, and none are more so arresting as the extravagantly deep black and whites in “The White Ribbon.” The film’s look is so delectably crisp, in fact, that it had the rare privilege of being a foreign film at the Oscars with a Cinematography nod. The man behind that pristine look is Christian Berger, who also did brilliant, if not as immediately eye-catching, work for Haneke’s masterpieces “The Piano Teacher” and “Cache.” This is more than enough for us to get excited every time his next project is announced, because even when it’s for a lukewarm affair like Angelina Jolie’s “By The Sea,” we know we’re in for a visual treat.
24. Agnes Godard
Sometimes it’s difficult to know where a director ends and a cinematographer begins, and in the very best way that’s true of Agnes Godard’s longtime collaboration with extraordinary French director Claire Denis. Starting back in 1991 with a short film, Godard then shot Denis’ third fiction feature “I Can’t Sleep,” establishing a partnership that would continue through “Nenette et Boni,” the astonishing and oddly ravishing “Beau Travail,” horror “Trouble Every Day,” “The Intruder,” “35 Shots of Rum” and her most recent title “Bastards.” Godard’s visual style adapts from light to dark to faintly surreal as do Denis’s films which is what makes them such a great partnership. But she has of course worked with other filmmakers, mostly in her native France but also notably in 2014 with British director Carol Morley on her atmospheric period mystery “The Falling.”
23. Sean Bobbitt
Look no further than the stunning camera work Sean Bobbitt has been doing for Steve McQueen – increasing in scope, style and visually-audacious nature from “Hunger” through “Shame” to “12 Years A Slave” – to see why he’s one of the most exhilarating cinematographers working today. If that wasn’t enough, he wove his long-take magic in Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” to tremendous effect, cementing his status as one of the best in the business. A bit of a late bloomer in terms of name-recognition, but there’s little doubt that this 57-year-old is fully established in the modern canon of great DPs. He’s got us all in jitters with anticipation for next year’s “Stronger” from David Gordon Green, and Ian McEwan adaptation “On Chesil Beach.”
22. Masanobu Takayanagi
In just a few short years, Masanobu Takayanagi seems to have come from nowhere to become one of the most in-demand DPs around with a run of top-notch auteurs on his CV. Japan-born and America-trained, Takayanagi was a second-unit photographer under the likes of Rodrigo Prieto, Robert Richardson and Anthony Dod Mantle, before making a spectacular director of photography debut with the muted tones and visceral feel of Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior.” Word spread fast, and soon he was behind the chilly snowscapes of “The Grey” and, in something of a left-turn, the charming, warm, magical feel of “Silver Linings Playbook.” Last year brought his best work so far, the careful, clever compositions of Oscar-winner “Spotlight,” and next he’ll reteam with “Black Mass” director Scott Cooper on “Hostiles,” and we can’t wait to see what he does with the Western.
21. Janusz Kaminski
Steven Spielberg‘s longtime go-to DP, Janusz Kaminski’s immaculately textured lensing has been particularly vital to the director’s recent period and fantasy work, from “Lincoln” to “Bridge of Spies” to “The BFG.” But rather as we do for the filmmaker himself, we do kind of wish we could see Kaminski back on more vital, energetic and less stately form, such as he displayed on earlier Spielberg joints like “Catch Me If You Can” and “A.I.” and on Cameron Crowe‘s “Jerry Maguire,” and Julian Schnabel‘s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” He’ll always be best known for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” which brought him his two Cinematoraphy Oscars, but here’s hoping Spielberg’s next film, the sprightly sci-fi “Ready Player One” will give him a chance to work in a livelier register again.