A movie is much like a painting — you gotta be pretentious before you comme— no wait, it helps if it looks good. I’ve a way with words, eh?
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Oh can I tell you how excited 14 year old me was by this film — oh shit. I mean you just have to watch it once and you’ll realise. Never before have I watched a film so dedicated to vibrancy and in-your-face visuals as this, and I bloody love it. The golden sands and turquoise sky provide a fitting backdrop for the carnage that ensues — pyrotechnics, flipped big rigs and nipple clamps, oo er.
Planet Terror (2007) – The entire Grindhouse double bill could be included here but, specifically, Planet Terror is a loveletter to grimey 70s footage and juicy 80s practical effects, which range from from the gruesome to outright gross. The aesthetic feels a lot more authentic than it’s Tarantino counterpart, and lends itself more to the bombastic action on screen.
Sin City (2005) – A Rodriguez double — the bloodiest Bueno on the shelf. One of the best “page-to-screen” comparisons I’ve ever seen, they really grafted over creating authentic scenes from the comic book, which gives it an aesthetic that hasn’t been recreated anywhere near as successfully (suck it, The Spirit). Regardless this, however, the hyper-stylised noir sheen and piercing splashes of colour just make it a pretty film.
Dredd (2012) – Somehow combining the sleekness of a modern blockbuster with a brutal streak of violence, this widely-underrated 2000AD adaptation is, as I’ve explained in article over at That Moment In (get linked fool), one of the best comic book movies of the decade. This is partly due to its gorgeous portrayal of blissfully intoxicated bloodshed.
Un Chien Andalou (1929) – I couldn’t not go with this masterpiece of early experimental surrealism either. Everyone knows the eyeball scene but, while it’s undoubtedly the dark side of Le Voyage dans la Lune, and just as iconic, this Dali-led short has so much more to offer and decipher, all wrapped up in enigmatic imagery and cinematographic techniques unheard of at the time.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Lazy Boi Reub’n is copying and pasting what he already said in this category in Stuff and That’s Best Thangs of the Year 2017, here we go: “The best word I can think of to describe the visuals of this film is huge. Everything is so grand, everything so massive, and on the cinema screen, it is just awe-inspiring. It takes you into a different world in which all of the huge skyscrapers, lights and deserts are as impressive as they are terrifying, and as spacious as they are claustrophobic and suffocating. The main thing that I love about it is that awesome grandeur, but it also uses sets and CGI in accordance to each other very well, with a great use of practical effects alongside the computerised stuff, and, on top of all this, a striking and hugely varied use of colour.”
Spirited Away (2001) – Studio Ghibli’s greatest adventure is a feast for the eyes from start to finish, with attention-grabbing colour and shapes interestingly choreographed and animated in expert fashion, as the dark, sinister, weird, and wonderful variants of the Japanese spirit world are on full display in all their grandeur.
The Shining (1980) – This is quite possibly the greatest example of cinematography at its finest, with a plethora of iconic shots and intriguing ones filling this badboi up, to creepy success.
Coraline (2009) – The contrasts in the colour here are as stark as you can get, with the dream world and the real world both put onto screen perfectly, as the crooked animation and gothic atmosphere and designs give it a splash of style.
Akira (1988) – Another mention for this anime classic, eh? It’s for good reason, mate. The animation here is only second to Spirited Away, while a post-apocalyptic Tokyo is portrayed with explosions of neon lights, futuristic motorbikes and.. giant gooey babies.. to paint a striking image and sites galore.
When it comes to cinematography, Hoyte van Hoytema is a hero. Dunkirk is perhaps his most well-known work, and deservingly so. His incredible talent shows through a viscerally powerful portfolio that includes Interstellar (2014), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), and Let the Right One In (2008).
The Science Of Sleep (2006)
Most of the trickery is done on-camera in this madcap tale that slips between dreams and reality with a flip of the scenery or a changing of the lights.
Delicatessen (1991) – Practical effects and elaborate sets put to very atmospheric use in a calling card movie that took Jean-Pierre Jeunet to the big time.
Dead & Buried (1981) – The boys behind the special effects for The Thing and Aliens have some fun with a twisted zombie tale and some glorious prosthetic limbs, heads, buckets of blood etc. etc. etc…
Jurassic Park (1993) – There’s no denying this changed the game. If only CGI had been used as diligently in everything that followed. It still looks incredible.
Touch Of Evil (1958) – There’s a legendary opening shot in Orson Welles classic noir, the longest of its type at the time. It’s been copied many times since. The rest of the movie is just a beautifully shot and moodily lit.
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!