Thursday, February 12, 2009

Best Cinematography, 2008

The Dark Knight- Wally Pfister (118 points/19 votes)

"In filming The Dark Knight, cinematographer Wally Pfister’s challenge was twofold: imbue the film with the anticipated visual pleasures of a mega-budget summer smash, and at the same time present us with a world with characters and settings we find identifiable. And what a job he does: the film transmutes the absurd into the eerily familiar, the outlandish into the visceral. Seemingly every other thing written about The Dark Knight mentions its realism, no small feat for a movie about costumed heroes and villains.

"Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s script is brought to life more as hard-edged thriller than comic book cash cow, with the terrible moral dilemmas of a tragedy merged seamlessly with the spectacular scenarios expected of such an adaptation. Eschewing the CGI wizardry of so many other comic book blockbusters, Pfister’s lens brings to life a vision of Batman and his universe as populated with individuals who cope with the world’s poison in dazzlingly bizarre ways. We’ve never seen it done this way before: the Joker as a diseased, feral, tic-ridden monster. Batman as a looming specter emanating both fear and hope. Two-Face as the mutilated reverse side of Batman’s coin. Here, simply looking at the characters is a rush. Even Gotham City is a character of its own, a modern metropolis pulsating with violence and rotting from within due to corruption, seen from the seediest part of the underworld to the highest skyscraper and everywhere in-between.

"The excellence of the photography is uniform despite myriad of demands a project of this magnitude presents. Pfister merges the dramatic (Bruce Wayne’s lovelorn plea with Rachel Dawes) with the exhilarating (the convoy assault), the surreal (the Joker sliding down a mountain of cash), and the shocking (the disappearing pencil). Never before has the jump from comic book page to celluloid been so wonderfully realized, and it’s unthinkable without Wally Pfister. " ~ James Frazier

Paranoid Park- Christopher Doyle and Kathy Rain Li (105/16)
Slumdog Millionaire- Anthony Dod Mantle (55/9)
My Blueberry Nights- Darius Khondji (50/8)
Let the Right One In- Hoyte Van Hoytema (49/9)

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