Cinematographically Beautiful Films You Must Definitely Watch

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Cinematography is the art of motion picture photography. It involves techniques such as scene composition, lighting of a location, choosing different lenses, filters, camera angles and movement, special effects etc. Almost every time a film seems to mark its impression on me, I can’t help but also remember the colours and lights of its various scenes. It might be said that pretty much every beautiful movie blends the signature of a talented director of photography as much as a filmmaker. 

From films following different colour compositions, to further invigorating their themes of different human experiences, to stunning shots of the location of the film setting the mood, here is a list, in my personal opinion, of films with absolutely stunning cinematography.

Sound Of Metal (2019)

This Riz Ahmed starrer, directed by Darius Marder, is the story of a young heavy-metal drummer (Ahmed) and how his life completely turns upside down as he develops a rapidly deteriorating hearing problem. He is forced to confront a future that is filled with silence. He goes through all the five stages of grief: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The movie’s colour palette compliments each stage as he navigates through them. Anger and denial are interspersed with fast-moving, dynamic scenes with bursts of colours. The scenery changes as we move into the territory of bargaining and depression, into the countryside. The colours are muted greys and blues encompassing the loneliness he feels as he’s forced to sit in a room and deal with his thoughts as part of his treatment. Finally, acceptance sees the camera lingering on the scenes filled with sunlight. The green of the countryside and then the blue of the sky contrasting with the white French cathedral, and the vehicles passing by. These are the colours we are given to absorb. They aren’t exactly bright but rather filled with light to create a sense of hope for what might come. 

Available on Amazon Prime Video. 

Paterson (2016)

Paterson (Adam Driver) who lives in Paterson, New Jersey is an observant bus driver who loves penning poems in his notebook. He leads a simple life, with his wife in their house with lemon yellow walls, walking his dog every night and going for a drink with his friend. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life. It has a calming effect on its viewers with its simple yet alluring story of domesticity. His wife is a whimsical artist who paints and dyes the curtains, sofa and her own clothes with circular black and white patterns. She also bakes cupcakes following the same colour scheme for the farmer’s market.  Her loud and bright designs of gaudy, contrasting colours exist in harmony with Paterson’s world of quiet, sombre reds of the city, greys and beige of his bus, brown of his notebook, and the blue of the river. Much like their characters as well. 

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Her (2013)

A lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) in the middle of a divorce, buys an artificial intelligence (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) to help him write. He ends up falling in love with her. The red poster of this beautiful film seems to signify love and loneliness. It’s a muted, pale red instead of the usual bright ruby which symbolises love, passion as well as anger. The entire movie is filled with scenes of towering, glittering buildings pointing toward a future of high-tech modern minimalism with a heavy warm colour cast and low contrast look. A higher colour temperature and low exposure tints the scenes with yellows that create a sense of being indoors and alone, even with some outdoor shots. Director Spike Jonze wanted to avoid the typical dystopian look of most sci-fi films, so keeping that in mind the cinematography of this movie sought to eliminate the colour blue entirely, focusing instead on yellows and reds. The result is stunning.  

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Little Women (2019)

The story of four sisters Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth as they come of age. Greta Gerwig’s retelling of a beloved classic is brilliant in terms of everything. The performances from the cast, the costumes, the scenery and the cinematography are all ethereal. The snow-white Christmas scene with the cluttered, energetic house and table filled with food. The beautiful colours of the girls’ dresses and Amy’s paintings lift up the mood. The cold blue tint of the beach when Beth falls ill and Jo takes her to the seaside does an excellent job of creating a sad mood. Towards the end as Mrs March’s nest empties out, it is again captivated by a lower exposure and scene temperature. The beautiful sun-dappled scene of spring green, with the whole March family united in the ending, leaves one with a feeling of wholeness. 

Available on Amazon Prime Video. 

If you know of any such films, do let us know in the comments. 


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