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18 Artistically Beautiful Shots That Prove Cinematography Is the Most Important Award at the Oscars

Cinematography is one of the most important aspects of a film, and when it’s done right some of those scenes are unforgettable. Choices about composition, lighting, color, depth-of-field, focus and camera motion help tell the story and evoke emotions in a way that acting and dialogue can’t convey. Here are some of the most artistically beautiful shots in movie history.

1. ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ Makes You Believe in a Galaxy Far Far Away

The 1977 shot Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope has a memorable scene where Luke is walking into the distance on the farm at sunset.

star wars

2. They Used a Lot of Mood Lighting in ‘True Grit’

Ethan and Joel Coen considered True Grit one of the more difficult films they had done together. There are a lot of extremes with the lighting. Cinematographer Roger Deakin has been nominated for an Oscar 18 different times.

true grit

3. There Are Lots of Beautiful Shots in ‘American Beauty’

The dream sequence in 1999’s American Beauty finds Lester (Kevin Spacey) dreaming of a teenaged Angela (Mena Suvari), as she’s naked on a bed of rose petals. It was shot from above and done well.

mena suvari

4. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ Is Particularly Memorable

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a visually stimulating film about erasing memories. It’s full of beautiful shots and eerie juxtaposition.

eternal sunshine

5. ‘The Shining’ Stays With You Forever

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was intentionally shot to to be unsettling to match the bending storyline, and unsettling it was. There are endless shots that could make the list, but the twins in the hallway is a particularly iconic one.

the shining

6. Every Frame in ‘Life of Pi’ Is a Work of Art

The world in the Life of Pi exist somewhere between fantasy and adventure, and since it’s about a boy and a tiger at sea on a small boat it was considered by many to be an unfilmable story. It ultimately was shot in 3D digital and won the most Oscars of 2012.

life of pi

7. ‘Kill Bill’ Has Some Killer Shots

All of the cinematography in Kill Bill was amazing, which left a lot of memorable scenes. Who could forget the sword fight in the snow.

kill bill

8. ‘Black Swan’ Danced Across the Screen

Black Swan was up against a lot of great films at the 2011 Oscars but ended up walking away with Best Picture.

black swan

9. ‘The Truman Show’ Was Unreal

The Truman Show is an interesting film based on the fact that the main character doesn’t know he’s being filmed, so there are a variety of shots that include voyeuristic ones as if the film audience was also the audience of The Truman Show.

the truman show

10. Dialogue Took a Back Seat to Cinematography in ‘Rear Window’

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window was a memorable mystery/thriller of the 1950s. We, the audience, can only see what Jimmy Stewart’s immobilized character could see through his window, and most of the action took place in this narrow field of vision.

rear window

11. Audiences Were Over the Moon For ‘E.T.’

E.T. provided one of the most recognizable film shots ever, and it has been reproduced for spoofs countless times over. Who could forget that flying bike ride past the moon.


12. How Can You Not Love ‘Romeo and Juliet’?

Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 remake of Romeo and Juliet was an abridged modernization of the Shakespeare play…all the old language remained, but it was set in a modern setting and drenched in colorful, creative shots.

romeo and juliet

13. We All Soared Along with ‘Thelma and Louise’

Thelma and Louise was a visually captivating film that held our attention frame by frame.

thelma and louise

14. The Use of Color in ‘The Matrix’ Was Subtle Yet Effective

The mind-bending storyline of The Matrix left a lot of room for creative filmmaking. The use of monochromatic tones in the office scenes and saturated colors in other settings added to the storytelling.

the matrix

15. ‘Requiem For a Dream’ Was a Stunning Sleeper Hit

Requiem For a Dream was shot using a variety of interesting techniques like stop-motion time lapses and extreme close ups. It was noteworthy at the time of shooting in 2000 and it’s still noteworthy now.

requim for a dream

16. David Lynch’s Weird Vision Came Alive in ‘Blue Valentine’

Blue Valentine was shot documentary style with bright compositions telling a heart wrenching story.

blue valentine

17. You Can Watch ‘Pulp Fiction’ Again and Again

Pulp Fiction was shot by cinematographer Andrzej Sekuła who also shot another of Quentin Tarantino’s films, Reservoir Dogs. He made a lot of interesting choices with framing and composition.

pulp fiction

18. There’s Unlimited Visual Appeal in ‘The Darjeeling Limited’

The Darjeeling Limited, like all of Wes Anderson’s films, has a quality that is somewhat fantastical in plot as well as visuals. The over saturation and distinct color choices is impossible to ignore.

darjeeling limited

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