Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best Cinematography, 2007

There Will Be Blood [Robert Elswit] (118 points/18 votes)

"Perhaps the most stylistically striking thing about 2007's rightfully-beloved critical darling, There Will Be Blood, is its stunning balance of the old-fashioned and the new-age. Tonally and structurally, P.T. Anderson's epic opus is just as classical as it is experimental. Crucial to this equilibrium is Robert Elswit's visionary cinematography, which fully realizes the film's literal vitality and subliminal absurdity. Both through rolling, rustic long shots and intense, brooding close-ups, Elswit's work perfectly captures the essence of what Anderson's screenplay and direction strive for. The viewer is first overwhelmed by the vastness and scope of the piece through Elswit's tinted and vintage view of an untapped American West, only to later be torn to shreds by the accomplished D.P.'s unflinching depiction of the humanity (or lack thereof) of Daniel Day Lewis' corrupt protagonist. Remarkable as the picturesque vistas found in There Will Be Blood are, they pale in comparison to Elswit's sweaty, claustrophobic, roaring shots of Day Lewis' profile, which spill over onto the audience's lap as if to intimidate and anger its members. Much like Anderson, Elswit knows when to make the viewer conscious of his work and when to back off, ensuring that the film is as substantively rich as it is breathtaking, as much a carefully-constructed exercise as it is an improvised experience. Captured through Elswit's lens, There Will Be Blood is nothing short of dynamo." ~ Danny Baldwin


No Country for Old Men [Roger Deakins] (82/13)
Zodiac [Harris Savides] (81/14)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [Roger Deakins] (71/10)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [Janusz Kaminski] (44/7)

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Steve C. said...

To the three people who chose Atonement: Why?

(To those who might answer the above: FWIW, three of my five nominees received no other votes. I'm a maverick like that, I guess.)

Jason_alley2 said...

Well, I don't think I voted for "Atomement", but I can understand why someone would just based on that awesome, long tracking shot on the beach.

Steve C. said...

Funny thing: That shot is exactly why I wouldn't vote for it.


I didn't even REMEMBER the shot until people pointed it out.

James said...

I'd seen it compared to Children of Men's more dazzling tracking shots before seeing the film, so was left thinking "is that it?" when it was over.

Jason_alley2 said...
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Jason_alley2 said...

I loved that because I hadn't been expecting a movie like that to attempt a really complicated tracking shot, and I realized about halfway through it that "wow, this is a really long shot".

I thought it was pretty cool in a surreal, insanities-of-war, "Apocalypse Now" kinda way.

By the way, excellent write-up, Danny.


Thanks, but I have the sneaking suspicion that your comments are hiding a secret prevalent to this discussion. Let's just say it can be summed up by two stars. ;)

Jason_alley2 said...

No, no, I recognize everything that's amazing (one of them being cinematography) about "There Will Be Blood" even though I didn't like it. I know it's a quality piece of work even though it didn't float my particular boat.