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Best Cinematography Reactions

Best Cinematography

Greig Fraser, Dune

Dan Laustsen, Nightmare Alley

Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog

Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Janusz Kaminski, West Side Story

This is one of my favorite categories, and this year it’s full of some serious competition. In my opinion The Green Knight and Red Rocket (especially Red Rocket) belong on this list more so than West Side Story. I even think Spencer is worth talking about when deciding the best-looking movies of last year. All this being said, it’s a tight race this time, with most of these films offering something that makes them all viable contenders (except WSS). Let’s look at the nominees:

- Kaminski. No.

- Ari Wegner. Regardless of how I felt about the movie itself, The Power of the Dog was a damn well-executed film. The shot composition/overall mise-en-scene is really something to behold. I’m a sucker for wide-lenses + western landscapes, and this film has both in spades!

- Fraser. I was shocked to see Dune here for a couple of reasons: camera movement/lighting in the Zendaya dream sequences looks like a televised cologne ad, and I think a lot of its best shots relied heavily on visual effects. Maybe that’s where this movie stands a better chance in terms of competition. As far as best-looking film of 2021 goes, this isn’t it.

- Laustsen. I love how Laustsen used color in some sequences of Nightmare Alley, muting the tones and driving up the blues just a bit. Also, the opening scene with the housefire? C’mon. There’re a ton of great visuals in this; plus, I hate how badly it flopped in theaters having to go against No Way Home. I would love to see Laustsen take the win almost as much as Delbonnel.

- Delbonnel. What can I say? Of all the great-looking movies we got in 2021, really of all time, Delbonnel’s work on The Tragedy of Macbeth made it one of the few real visual feasts of cinema. Coen mentioned in a few interviews that abstraction was necessary here to keep the feel of a Shakespearean play while also exploring the possibilities of film, and from the lush black-and-white to the boxlike aspect ratio and everything in between, Delbonnel’s abstractions added so much to the emotional tone of this wonderful film. Every frame’s a painting.


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