Top 3 Most Beautifully Shot Films

My list of most beautifully shot movies spans from the years 1967 to 2010. I have here three very different movies from three very different decades. All three movies and directors of photography brought something different to the table when it came to cinematography.

Number three is from 2010. You might have seen it win a few Oscars this past year, best achievement in cinematography, best achievement in sound editing, best achievement in sound mixing, best achievement in visual effects, to name a few. The director of photography for this film was Wally Pfister.

Still don’t know what film I’m talking about? Inception is my number three best shot film of all time. The cinematography is breath taking. Inception is not only shot beautifully and interestingly, but it teams up with some amazing visual effects.

Taking an audience into a dream sequence movie is an interesting concept and Pfister got the job done.

Inception set the bar for filming and effects for movies to come. My favorite shot from the movie is as seen below:


Number two is from 1999. You also might have seen it win quite a few Oscars that year as well. It took best leading actor, best director, best picture, best writing, and best cinematography. It was also nominated for three more categories as well. The director of photography for this film was Conrad L. Hall. This film is the inspiration for the name of my blog.

American Beauty is on my top three list for a number of reasons. The main reason is all of the breath taking shots. The way this film is shot takes you into the lives of two families to such a level, that you are attached to each and every character. The cinematography couples the character development within the film.

It also takes us into the suburban life of struggling families. The title of this movie sets the stage for what you are going to see.

My favorite shot from the film is seen below:

American Beauty

My number one, most beautifully shot film, is from 1967. It is currently number seven on the American Film Institute’s top 100 movies of all time, in between The Wizard of Oz and On the Waterfront. Though it sweep the Oscars like my number two and three movies, it did win over critics. It only won best director for the 1968 Oscars and it was nominated for 6 more. Robert Surtees was the director of photography for this film.

The Graduate is a film about a college graduate who is uncertain about his future. He get’s mixed up in a love affair with the wife of his dad’s business partner, then he begins to fall in love with her daughter, Elaine.

I’m going to be bold and say that The Graduate is the most beautiful movie ever made. The different camera angles and the orientation of each and every shot is breathtaking. The most famous sequence of shots is one of the end scenes when Benjamin is in the church at the wedding.

This film set the stage for all movies to come. American Beauty takes a lot of it’s techniques from The Graduate.

My favorite shot from The Graduate is seen below:

The Graduate

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5 Responses to Top 3 Most Beautifully Shot Films

  1. Adam says:

    1. “Days of Heaven” (1978)
    2. “The New World” (2005)
    3. “The Thin Red Line” (1998)

    And soon to be “The Tree of Life” (2011).
    You need to see some Terrence Malick before you go around making these kinds of lists.

    • bowmanst says:

      Thanks for the insight, Adam! I know there are a lot of movies I haven’t seen, but this list is of movies I have seen. Those of which made my list. Let’s watch some Terrence Malick and revise my list!

  2. Nick Hunter says:

    Inception is amazing! I can’t even start to understand how they shot that scene in the hallway but it is such a cool fight scene. It’s so intense when the gravity shifts so the “bad guy” gets flung towards Arthur and he shoots him just in time. I haven’t seen the other two movies

    • bowmanst says:

      I completely agree, Nick! I love all the canted angles of the cameras in that shot, let alone the whole movie! They really knew how to make you feel like you were in a dream.

  3. Thor Molecules says:

    1. Chimes at Midnight (1965)
    2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    3. The Searchers (1956)

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