In Contention


The top 10 shots of 2008: part two

Posted by Kristopher Tapley · 11:55 am · January 15th, 2009

The Dark KnightToday we wrap up my list of the year’s best shots.  In case you missed it, have a look at part one here.

Before digging into the top five today, I thought I would give a shout out to the images that almost made the cut, and there were a few.  For instance, who can forget the fateful shot of Harvey Milk ascending the stairs of San Francisco’s City Hall as Dan White stalks the corridors in the distance?  Similarly, how about the image of White from behind as he psyches himself into assassinating his fellow politician?

Meanwhile, there was an array of images to choose from in “The Dark Knight,” certainly too many to name here.  As beloved as the image of Heath Ledger’s Joker is, breathing in his freedom and tearing off into the night in a Gotham patrol car, I chalk that up to performance as much as if not more than Wally Pfister’s work behind the camera.  But the iconography of James Gordon standing, arms crossed in front of the Bat signal was a difficult one for me to snub (for reasons you’ll find out after the jump).

“Let the Right One In” will show up on today’s list, but one other image that came very close to making the cut for me was that of Eli’s victim bursting into flames on a hospital bed once exposed to sunlight streaming in through the window.  And though Maryse Alberti’s work on “The Wrestler” has already been represented, I was always tickled by the creativity of The Ram’s walk through the bowels of a supermarket deli, mirroring his walk to the ring.

Finally, Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” is loaded with wonderful cinematography.  The image I chose yesterday had personal value, but I also loved the long shot of young Jamal and young Salim on the roof of a train to start the film’s exciting montage, as well as the three-shot overhead view of the Mumbai slums during the film’s opening sequence.

This is to say nothing of the work from fine lensers on films that just didn’t make the cut for whatever reason, but were nonetheless wonderful examples of cinematography this year.  “The Fall” (Colin Watkinson), “Gomorrah” (Marco Onorato), “The Reader” (Roger Deakins and Chris Menges) and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Javier Aguirresarobe) are just a few examples.

But enough of the also-rans, right?  Let’s get on with the real show: the five best shots of 2008…

#5

The Dark Knight

“THE DARK KNIGHT”
Director of Photography: Wally Pfister

Chris and I had long conversations discussing the best way to film this scene.  This is the last we see of the Joker in the film and sadly one of the last days we were ever to work with Heath.  We went back and forth trying to decide whether to leave him upside down in the frame for the whole scene or rotate the camera and have him right-side up and we did not make our decision until that day. Chris felt that, as long as we showed the camera rotation, and let the audience “in,”  that the scene would play better with the Joker’s face upright. The end result is, of course, this eerie right-side-up image that defies gravity. We kept the illusion of the police helicopter flying around to motivate my overexposed blue, flickering light on the Joker’s face throughout.

–Wally Pfister

Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is perhaps the most photographically sound film of 2008.  To say nothing of the breathtaking innovations Nolan and D.P. Wally Pfister ushered to the mainstream by tinkering with IMAX technology, the film is composed, moment-for-moment, with the utmost expertise and thematic intent.  Choosing just one image would bee a fool’s errand.  I had to go with two.

Of course, as mentioned in the lede, there are numerous frames to choose from.  Click here, here, here and here for just a couple more examples.  My own favorite image might be this one, but I had to answer to a higher calling for the purposes of this list, shots that truly said something, capturing iconography and creative liberation all at once, regardless of my fanboy glee over seeing images from my favorite graphic novels duplicated on the screen.

For the first of two “Dark Knight” images selected, I chose a shot that brings an extra element of cinematic uniqueness to Nolan’s already classic vision of the character: the Joker, finally in the Batman’s clutches, suspended high above Gotham as he taunts his archenemy further.  The off-screen pain of the line “You and I are destined to do this forever” will always sting, but for Pfister and Nolan’s part, Heath Ledger’s final moments in the film are captured in an unsettling manner worthy of the actor’s maniacal creation.

#4

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

“THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON”
Director of Photography: Claudio Miranda

David likes being able to roll instantly and he likes the convenience of HD, but of all the shots that was probably one of the easiest ones of the whole movie.  It was just trying to be as naturalistic as possible.  I get drawn to it more emotionally, because it’s not busy with light or camera movement at all.  There’s no real equipment on that shot.  There’s just a camera and a couple of actors out there and we were blessed by a little bit of overcast and there you go.  It was one of those happy accidents.  And it just seemed to have a great mood to it, the tree kind of pushed in on the side with this nice bell shape.  Everyone has their favorite shots but a lot of people react to that one.

–Claudio Miranda

Whether or not the Academy’s cinematography branch finally warms up to digital photography hardly matters in the face of the technology’s accelerated proliferation in the film industry.  But while we’ve seen nice work from lensers like Dion Beebe and Dean Semler in that vein in the past, I don’t think anyone has really conveyed the potential for gorgeous digital imagery the way Claudio Miranda did on David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Miranda has been a part of Fincher’s creative ensemble for a number of years.  He worked on “Seven,” “The Game,” “Fight Club” and “Zodiac” before taking the helm of a Fincher camera department for the first time this year.  However, he cut his teeth as a lighting technician, which goes a long way toward explaining his wonderful eye for visual ambiance.

“Button” is packed with beautiful imagery, but it can be difficult at times to discern what is digitally enhanced.  The red dress sequence that is so beloved, for instance, wouldn’t have had the same effect if Fincher hadn’t spiked the red in post.  But the shot that always causes me to gasp a little everytime I see the film is the one you see here, startling on an emotional level but carrying with it an eerie weight that sums up the film so well atmospherically.

#3

Hunger

“HUNGER”
Director of Photography: Sean Bobbitt

It is an interesting shot in that it sort of highlights the working relationship between myself and Steve McQueen.  He said it was as if the camera was a balloon bouncing around the room, always looking at Michael.  There was no visual reference that he could think of but he had a gut feeling that there was something about that movement of the camera.  It highlights Steve’s creativity because he’s coming from the world of art.  We had several discussions about how you get a camera to move like that, coming up with all sorts of rigs — including large balloons — none of which were really practical.  As we were getting more into the shoot, the birds started to grow in importance, and for Steve it was suddenly clear that it wasn’t a balloon, it was a bird, and the bird represented Bobby Sands’ soul, trying to escape this room.

–Sean Bobbitt

Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” is a visual masterpiece, loaded with captivating images sprung from the mind of a contemporary artist in this, his first feature film.  One could talk all day about the virtues of the film’s narrative structure, a broken string of moments that catches its stride in an extended glimpse of hunger striker Bobby Sands (played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender) in his final days of incarceration at HM Maze Prison outside of Belfast.

Sean Bobbitt has spent much of his time in the world of television as of late, but it seems a collaboration with McQueen was all it took to unleash a ferocious sense of creativity in the lenser.  He captures the Maze with a number of clever and thematically potent angles and hues, equally effective with elaborate camera movement and the stillness of visual commentary.

The shot that stuck out in my mind comes late in the film, perhaps the most unusual of the numerous memorable images on display.  The camera hovers above Fassbender as he goes into a series of convulsions, forgoing whatever fluids might have remained in his stomach.  It then pushes in swiftly on the actor as the viewer hears the sound of bird wings flapping, then out again, repeating the movement a number of times before resting in a somewhat defeated manner.  I do it no justice here; the movement is excellently explained by Bobbitt above.

#2

The Dark Knight

“THE DARK KNIGHT”
Director of Photography: Wally Pfister

The Battersea Power Station has such a wonderful history and was perfectly suited for our story. There are very few locations where you can find that kind of scale.  Chris really likes these iconic Batman images (the helicopter shot of Batman on top of the tall building is another) and usually uses them in very powerful, emotional moments in the film.  All that weight was presented on a massive, eight-story screen when viewed at an IMAX theater.  I was quite pleased with the duality of the color palette, the blue of the dawn light mixed with the warm, orange of the fire light. We decided to shoot this as a dawn scene, as it allowed us to see much more of the destroyed Battersea interior than we would have had it been a night scene.

–Wally Pfister

As Pfister notes in his comment above, one of the things Christopher Nolan has nailed with his Batman franchise is the iconic imagery of the character.  The first shot that really put fanboys on the edge of their seats in 2005 was that sweeping helicopter shot of the Caped Crusader perched atop a Chicago skyscraper in “Batman Begins.”  At the time, comic artist Jim Lee called it his favorite image from the series’s reboot.

Translating that sense of iconography to IMAX photography was just one more way of adding a sense of majesty to the character and, indeed, lending a greater sense of importance and urgency to the events of “The Dark Knight.”  And there was ultimately one image that came to define the film for me, both in this way and in a general sense overall.  The choice was simple.

A battered but unbroken Batman stands on a pile of blown-out rubble, fires blazing all about him, looking down with the heavy heart of a shadowed hero.  Using the Battersea Power Station in South London only amplifies the grandiosity of the image, but what is most startling is that, though it seems instantly iconic, there is no real reference for the composition, no frame in a comic book to inspire the image.  It was born out of Nolan and Pfister’s creativity and dedication to capturing the essence of a character that has struggled to find that identification on the screen for decades.

#1

Let the Right One In

“LET THE RIGHT ONE IN”
Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema

This shot can be seen as a compressed example of how we tried to treat the story throughout the film.  It pretty much followed the ideas Tomas and I had about how to show cruelty, action and supernatural elements and where to put focus.  We wanted to be close on Oscar and the way he experiences the situation, as well as have a platform to tell everything that happens in one shot.  I am not sure if it is the most “pretty” frame of the film, but it was very exciting to try to unravel and solve the puzzle of all present elements in this shot, technically, as well as emotionally.  I am very proud of Tomas and the way he dared to go with a climax that is so violent, but restrained and subtle at the same time.

–Hoyte Van Hoytema

Tomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One In” has been considered one of the year’s best films in many quarters.  It is a burst of creativity and ideas that stretches far beyond the realm of the visual.  I think vampire chic has enjoyed its 15 minutes.  And it wasn’t working anyway.  When Hollywood wasn’t raping and pillaging the work of Richard Matheson it was copying and pasting the work of Stephanie Meyers, both times to box office success of course.  And who can forgive the many faults of television’s “True Blood?”

Along came Alfredson and his brilliant D.P. Hoyte Van Hoytema and, hopefully, they’ve changed all that.  Who knows how wretched the American remake of “Let the Right One In” will be, but that a film this dynamic and artistically exciting will serve as a jumping off point certainly nurtures a sense of hope.  Then again, fool me once…

Like many of the films on my list, this one is scattered with memorable images.  The sound work should be noticed as much as Hoytema’s work behind the camera, by the way, but we’re focused on cinematography here, and there was really only one image worth considering, not merely as the best frame from the film but as the year’s single greatest shot.  Young Oscar (Kåre Hedebrant) is held under water by a pack of bullies who’ve haunted him throughout the film.  At first the audience isn’t quite sure what is happening above the surface, but as the bloody pieces begin to fall into place, we know.  And we’re dazzled.  This is the moment that finally made the film click in my head as one of the year’s best.  I can’t imagine that I’m alone.

And that’s a wrap!  This is, without a doubt, the feature I look forward to writing each year more than any other.  Again, I hope you all have enjoyed the list as much as I did compiling it.  These were my 10, but feel free to cut loose with your picks for the year’s best shots in the comments section below.

The top 10 shots of 2008: part one

The top 10 shots of 2007




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67 responses so far

  • 1 1-15-2009 at 12:02 pm

    Lester said...

    BB has better shots than that one, IMO.

    And 2 TDK? Should have seen it coming.

  • 2 1-15-2009 at 12:04 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Well, it DOES have the best cinematography of the year.

  • 3 1-15-2009 at 12:05 pm

    William Goss said...

    Totally agree on #1. Whatever reluctance I had to embrace the film were dashed away then and there in one fell swoop.

  • 4 1-15-2009 at 12:09 pm

    JAB said...

    YOUR NUMBER ONE IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    Right.

  • 5 1-15-2009 at 12:10 pm

    Kyle said...

    I always felt that your #2 shot of the year (The Dark Knight) had a resemblance to the 9/11 aftermath. How does one react to someone willing to do that? Says alot.

  • 6 1-15-2009 at 12:11 pm

    actionman said...

    AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME choice for the #1 shot of the year. The finale to Let the Right One In is the best five minutes of moviemaking I saw all year.

    However, I would have picked any number of shots from The Fall for this list…

    Also, the shot you picked from Button was the shot that made me tear up while watching. Very poignant.

  • 7 1-15-2009 at 12:12 pm

    Ryan said...

    “This is the moment that finally made the film click in my head as one of the year’s best. I can’t imagine that I’m alone.”

    100% agreed. Great choices throughout but especially for your #1 pick.

  • 8 1-15-2009 at 12:13 pm

    Chad said...

    Hmm. I have mixed feelings about that shot in Let the Right One In. Seriously well executed but it’s also the only moment in the film that I felt was more for the audience’s sake than the story’s. The bullying plot point had already been resolved in my mind, only for a new older brother character to be introduced specifically for an audience pleasing bloody climax. Almost as if Alfredson got a story note from an idiotic suit and yet managed to pull it off as brilliantly and subversively as possible.

  • 9 1-15-2009 at 12:18 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Didn’t see “Let the Right One In” yet (don’t know when it’s going to arrive here… ugh), but I’m disappointed you couldn’t find room for one of the most beautiful films in a while, “Australia.” The sun-soaked shot of the horses running through the front garden as Kidman stares out at them is absolutely breathtaking.

    I like your “Benjamin Button” pick as well, but I would probably go with a shot towards the beginning, with the soldiers flying in reverse during a backwards-time war scene. Incredible.

  • 10 1-15-2009 at 12:20 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The cinematography in “Australia” was, in my opinion, laughable throughout. For the most part the lighting is unmotivated and the overall visual atmosphere is incredibly uneven. But that’s me.

    That’s a great point about the war scene. Might have made a list of 20 from me.

  • 11 1-15-2009 at 12:20 pm

    N8 said...

    This is the best feauture of your site, Kris! Never stop doing it.

    As for me, my top five shots of the year:

    5) Defiance:
    Having survived the harsh winter, Tuvia Bielski slowing walks into beams of golden light as the forest melts around him.

    4) WALL-E
    WALL-E stares longingly at an old copy of “Hello Dolly!”, the image of two lovers holding hands reflected in his eyes.

    3) Revolutionary Road
    April Wheeler stands at the picture window near the end of the film. Through the reflection of a tree in the glass, we see her exhausted, dying face.

    2) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    An underwater shot of Benjamin and Daisy’s naked bodies silhouetted against the moon.

    1) The Dark Knight
    Your #2 shot (shoulda been #1, man!) of Batman standing at the tomb of his lost love, debris burning in the background.

  • 12 1-15-2009 at 12:21 pm

    Bill said...

    Favorite shot in TDK was when Heath stands on the sidewalk, Joker mask in hand.

  • 13 1-15-2009 at 12:22 pm

    Jackass said...

    ugh. the dark knight with two! two!

    figures.

    at least your number one is actually.. you know.. good.

  • 14 1-15-2009 at 12:22 pm

    Matt said...

    Your #1 is right on, it’s brilliant. That said, TDK does not deserve two spots. It was a well-shot film but there are far more deserving films that should have went on the list. I’m guessing WALL-E was ignored simply because it was animated (boo) despite the fact that they specifically used real cinematography techniques to execute some of the most memorable scenes of the year.

  • 15 1-15-2009 at 12:23 pm

    Matt said...

    Oh and I totally forgot to mention, I’m very surprised the “red dress” sequence is mentioned as a favorite. Is it really? That scene with Cate Blanchett’s overacting totally ruining the mood was my least favorite of an otherwise wonderful film.

  • 16 1-15-2009 at 12:28 pm

    Jackass said...

    I actually liked last year’s best shot list.

    This is just dismal. Reeking of absolutely no knowledge of film… just awful. TWO!!!

    TWO!!

    Best cinematography of the year!

    Fucking blind bastards!

  • 17 1-15-2009 at 12:35 pm

    bigherbs said...

    Great choice Kris. Your #1 caught me by surprise, but having seen the film, I can’t help but agree. It’s an astounding shot.

    With that said, my favourite shot of the year is the final moment of The Dark Knight, with Batman speeding away into the light. As a lifelong Batman fan, that one shot still takes my breath away.

    Bill, that opening shot of the Joker holding the clown mask is my #2. It’s such an arresting first glimpse of the character, and holds palpable menace.

  • 18 1-15-2009 at 12:39 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Jackass: Much as I love that you strive to live up to your namesake, pop a Xanex.

    Matt: Yes, “WALL-E” was excluded because it’s animated (despite the “techniques” used to execute the film’s look). But I don’t deny the film’s beauty. Still, for my money, “Finding Nemo” remains the most visually stunning Pixar film.

  • 19 1-15-2009 at 12:42 pm

    Jeff Cash said...

    Like any regular Kris Tapley piece, this is ice cream mixed in which dog shit: some very points, some very bad points. Actually, let me correct myself; there is one very bad point: picture #2. The fact that there is only one blemish separates this list from yesterday’s travesty. #5, the first Batman shot, is really quite interesting because it demonstrates the Joker’s physical weakness while highlighting his absolute confidence and control in his situation. Number 2 has become a cliche, almost like the Joker shot of him with his back to the camera and the clown mask in his hand. I would blame its overuse for this, but even when I saw it for the first time I thought of it as pedestrian and too staged. But, anyway, overall a good list.

  • 20 1-15-2009 at 12:46 pm

    Evan said...

    Brilliant pick for #1. I was having trouble thinking of my own #1 choice, and when I saw your list I just thought “of course!” Such an incredible climax.

    And yeah, in my eyes these top 10 shots of the year lists are definitely incontention’s finest hour.

  • 21 1-15-2009 at 12:53 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Ice cream mixed with dog shit? Really? Wow.

  • 22 1-15-2009 at 1:09 pm

    The InSneider said...

    I thought it was a pretty good list, glad you got the cinematographers on the record too, but regarding Australia (which I didn’t see), what is unmotivated lighting? Like, there was no purpose? Genuinely asking here, not trying to be a dick.

  • 23 1-15-2009 at 1:10 pm

    J said...

    Kris – great list! I see you’ve met the incredibly quick-witted malcontent, Jackass. An absolute genius…

  • 24 1-15-2009 at 1:12 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    As in, it was like someone was following the actors around with a 10K on horseback all the time. And an overabundance of aiming for the “pretty” frame, unlike Don McAlpine’s work on with Luhrmann in the past, which was a mixture of artful lighting and interesting composition. Mandy Walker is generally a good lenser, in my view, but something was amiss on “Australia.”

  • 25 1-15-2009 at 1:14 pm

    Jackass said...

    Oh lordy lordy!

    Do you guys where tight t-shirts that highlight your gut and have The Dark Knight (special Batmobile edition) on DVD, Blu-Ray, and ultra-special VHS?

  • 26 1-15-2009 at 1:15 pm

    J said...

    Good one, Beavis.

  • 27 1-15-2009 at 1:19 pm

    K-a said...

    could you post a link for your last year choices?

  • 28 1-15-2009 at 1:25 pm

    K-a said...

    oh ignore me, i’m blind :P

  • 29 1-15-2009 at 1:40 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    Nice! Totally called the two TDK shots, and well-deserved. Alas, haven’t seen Hunger or Let The Right One In, but I can’t wait.

  • 30 1-15-2009 at 1:52 pm

    mike said...

    My favorite from Button are the shots when Ben and his Dad are on the dock of the lake and sun is coming up shining on Thomas’s face… that whole sequence is stunning to me (starting when he is wheeling the chair).

    The similar scene with Ben and Daisy is also great.

  • 31 1-15-2009 at 2:29 pm

    Felix said...

    There were so many standouts in Benjamin Button but the shot of the clock maker going off to see set the tone of the movie for me.

  • 32 1-15-2009 at 2:33 pm

    JAB said...

    5. The scene when Jamal and Latika finally kiss, with the strong light in the corner – Slumdog
    4. The Joker with his head out of the window of the cop car – TDK
    3. The shot of Kate Winslet with the cigarette in her mouth throughout Michael Shannon’s recounting of what’s wrong with the Wheeler’s marriage – Rev. Road
    2. “All it takes is a little push” – TDK
    1. same as your #1

  • 33 1-15-2009 at 2:34 pm

    JAB said...

    close to top five:
    the water creeping up on the clock in the basement -Button
    the “gossip” feathers from the pillow flying everywhere- Doubt

  • 34 1-15-2009 at 2:36 pm

    Big Braveheart said...

    Loved those shots in TDK of The Joker hanging
    upside down ( very like Max Cady in Cape Fear but better) and the shot after the explosion that kills Rachel ( very 9/11 ish) but one of the real killer shots is the scene with The Joker hanging out the cop car with the music dulled down, superb moment! Cinematography for the film was great and Wally Pfister might get the Oscar!
    Hopefully!

  • 35 1-15-2009 at 3:16 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I love your “Hunger” pick — not the first one I thought of from the film, but as I think about it, an inarguable one. Sean Bobbitt has been, for me, the most unfairly overlooked craftsman of the awards season.

  • 36 1-15-2009 at 3:18 pm

    Nick said...

    So, what happened in #1? Did the vampire kid rip the bullies apart? (I unfortunately haven’t seen the movie)

  • 37 1-15-2009 at 3:29 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Kind of trying to stay away from spoilers for a reason, Nick.

  • 38 1-15-2009 at 4:36 pm

    Joel said...

    I’m completely shocked “The Fall” isn’t on here. Instead of posting one still, I would posted THE WHOLE MOVIE. It’s amazing.

    Glad to see two TDK pics here, especially since they’re both in the top five. Discounting “The Fall,” its cinematography being on a whole other level, Pfister’s work is utterly astounding. Gritty but beautiful. And it doesn’t draw attention to itself, strangely.

    After the surprise (for me), that Curious Case was actually the best film of the year, any shot from that would do. Your choice, for me, was bittersweet. I loved the choice and was as moved by it as you were but am sad that it’s the only one here.

    And I wonder what convulsions I’d have if I rented “Let the Right One In” and “Hunger” on the same day…because I’m thinking about it. I’ve wanted to see both since about last September, when I heard about them.

  • 39 1-15-2009 at 4:41 pm

    Kate said...

    Beautiful list. Especially #1, I loved Let the Right One. I would have included a shot from The Fall as well.

  • 40 1-15-2009 at 4:42 pm

    Jake said...

    Wow. I haven’t seen that much TDK hate in a while. The film was brilliantly shot. I don’t know about having two spots on the list (simply because I haven’t seen every film of 2008), but there are a plethora from TDK alone that are masterful and deserving to be on a list such as this one. You don’t have to like The Dark Knight to admire its countless beautiful shots. One of my favorites is the Joker standing in front of the exploding hospital–his body language says, “hmm, what next?”

  • 41 1-15-2009 at 5:35 pm

    Nick said...

    I understand Kristopher. I just went to Wikipedia instead. Jesus, that must have been downright frightening. I would like to see ‘Let the right one in’, but I’m kind of adverse to bloody movies. On a scale of 1-10, how bloody would you say it is?

  • 42 1-15-2009 at 6:13 pm

    Shannon said...

    Much kudos on getting the cinematographers to chat specifically about each shot – great insight.

    A few glaring omissions, for my money anyway:

    1. The 7-10 second hold on Buddy Guy in Shine A Light. Hypnotic.

    2. The shadow of Indy putting on his hat in Indy 4 (c’mon – don’t tell me you didn’t get shivers when you first saw it in the trailer), reminding us of how economical a director Spielberg used to be, before he goes ahead and buggers everything up with the remaining 120 minutes.

  • 43 1-15-2009 at 7:02 pm

    Bill said...

    The cool thing about the Joker’s sidewalk shot:

    Nolan always said he didn’t want to give the Joker the conventional detailed backstory. With that shot, he didn’t have to. The shot was all the backstory ws needed. Plus, the only time in the film you could actually recognize Heath Ledger.

    How about those shots in In Bruges when Ken is climbing on his hands up to the tower, blood soaking eveywhere?

  • 44 1-15-2009 at 7:16 pm

    Dan said...

    Nice picks, even if I didn’t like TDK. I would have picked the dressing room scene for The Wrestler, when the accumulated injuries just add up to a whole lot of pain (also with Rourke’s back to the camera for a while). And, for the record, I too agree on #1, from my favourite film of the year.

  • 45 1-15-2009 at 7:55 pm

    Kip Mooney said...

    #2 was and still is my favorite shot of the year.

  • 46 1-15-2009 at 8:43 pm

    Zach said...

    It’s all good, but (especially if you were going to include two from The Dark Knight) I would have included the shot of The Joker sticking his head outside the car window. Just love its maniacal whimsicalness — for me, that was the movie.

  • 47 1-15-2009 at 10:35 pm

    N8 said...

    Just saw “Let the Right One In” 15 minutes ago. Holy Shyte! I’ve changed my mind! And your #1 selection, that IS the best shot of the year! (how easily convinced am I?)

  • 48 1-16-2009 at 12:44 am

    Randall said...

    Thanx for pointing out that TDK was indeed the best shot picture of 08. I’m so sick of folks who think they know a thing er two about what makes a movie good (in this case cinema tography good) cause they’ve watched alot of movies. I’m not trying come off all elitist or what have you, but most people haven’t the faintest clue as to what are actual flaws in a picture vs personal preferance. Adding further complication for aforementioned people is when a film is aestheically pleasing yet fails in other departments. It’s as if the average person is all of a sudden without comprehension of how to compartmentalize. This is how sweeps happen, and I personally think that’s BULLSHIT!

  • 49 1-16-2009 at 1:53 am

    Jesus Alonso said...

    Lol, Kris, it doesn’t happen that much that you and I have ever agreed on something so completely, but yeah, that underwater shot is hands down the best I’ve seen in 2008.

    However, wait till Javier Fesser’s “Camino” is shown in the USA, maybe you’re going to get blown up by it: sharp, gentle, rough, a movie by a pure genius (way better than Almodovar and Amenabar).

    I miss in your list the “confession” of JCVD, which was also brilliant: not only Van Damme bares his soul, the movie itself bares too so you can focus completely on him and what he’s saying. People can say whatever they want, but I honestly think JCVD is superior to Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich”. And I also would encourage you to check out british TV-movie – sliced into five pieces – “Dead Set”, which probably have a couple of shots that would sneak in my top 10, if I did so.

  • 50 1-16-2009 at 2:48 am

    Scott said...

    Once again a thoroughly enjoyable list, Kris. Thank you for making this list an annual event, and for so lovingly crafting it.

    Not sure what you mean by ‘creative inhibition’ though, in #5… either you mean ‘creative disinhibition’ or ‘creative inhabitation’. There’s nothing creatively inhibited about The Dark Knight.

  • 51 1-16-2009 at 10:37 am

    Frank Lee said...

    I have to admit I didn’t understand the #1 shot from “Let the Right One In” when I saw the movie. If there is a vampire chick violently dismembering his brother and his brother’s friend, why does the older bully continue to hold Oscar’s head underwater instead of, say, getting the hell out of the pool area? Conversely, if the vampire chick has already killed the older bully, why does the dead arm continue to hold Oscar’s head underwater?

  • 52 1-16-2009 at 1:51 pm

    Steve said...

    Love the TDK shots you picked but my personal favorite is the one with The Joker hanging out of the squad car. It captures The Joker so well; he is just soaking up the chaos and destruction that he has created, he owns that city an everyone in it at that moment.

  • 53 1-16-2009 at 11:52 pm

    Pandaloss said...

    Frank Lee:

    You’ve been in total chock anytime? I’ve been once. I can assure you, even my mind was petrified.

    Good list btw.

  • 54 1-18-2009 at 8:41 am

    Monica said...

    I couldn’t agree more with your choice for number one. Like you, that was the scene that made up my mind utterly and completely- Let the Right One In was, from that moment on, my favorite movie of the year.

  • 55 1-30-2009 at 11:29 am

    SLS said...

    Por why is there nothing from The Fall here? Some of the best shots of the year, by a longshot, IMHP.

  • 56 2-05-2009 at 10:15 am

    Matt White said...

    This was wonderful! Thanks.

  • 57 2-11-2009 at 8:24 am

    Haxn said...

    haven’t seen half of the movies on there but “frame-wise” you list is good :)

  • 58 2-13-2009 at 8:29 pm

    Alex said...

    I’m wondering about your opinion on two shots from The Dark Knight, which you left out in your links.

    The first is the shot of the Joker, dressed as a nurse and sitting on a chair in Dent’s hospital room, as he whispers an elongated “Hiii…” For some reason, the cross-dressing and composure of this shot really laid out with the almost-erotic pleasure that the Joker took in causing chaos, and stuck with me after seeing the film.

    The other was similar, after the Joker, still as the nurse, leaves the hospital with the bomb detonator in hand.

    And of course, there is the Joker in the jail cell, confident and applauding as Gordon makes commissioner, and being the only one to know (at that point) the rest of the night will unfold.

  • 59 2-13-2009 at 9:17 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The first shot never spoke to me but the second one is a great take (which was considered for the piece). If only because so much had to be right in that particular take, given the enormity of the tangible explosion going on behind him.

  • 60 2-14-2009 at 8:09 pm

    The Q-Mann said...

    This article and your #1 choice made me go and check out Let the Right One In…

    …I’m forever in your debt.

  • 61 2-20-2009 at 7:14 pm

    martin said...

    i couldnt agree more with your #1 choice. its by far my favorite movie that ive seen in all of my 14 years. great scene you picked too. my personal favorite scene was (SPOILER ALERT) when Oskar asks Eli to be his girlfriend while they are laying in bed.