The 75 best looking films ever made

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No. 31: 'Ida' (2013)
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
DoP.: Lukas Za
l


Lukas Zal's black and white cinematography is absolutely stunning in this film. There are many close ups of faces and in many shots, Ida / Anna is placed towards the bottom corner with just her upper body or part of her face showing. This seems to break the rules of contemporary photography, but it seems to be Pawlikowski saying to us that Ida is on the edge of something and the rest of her life is empty. The framing in this film is just majestic.

There could be a book containing about 300 beautiful static images from this film. And I'd buy it.



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Into the top 30......

No.30: 'Tokyo Drifter' (1966)
Directed by: Seijun Suzuki
DoP.: Shigeyoshi Mine


Takeo Kimura deserves a mention in this one for the absolute ludicrous nature of the set design and production design (sharp suits matching backgrounds and lights changing colours). The colours are just off the chart. The film itself is a little messy as there are alot of characters and the scene jumps tend to be quick. But lordy is it a joy to watch on a big screen. Completely eye popping.

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No.29: 'Enter the Void' (2009)
Directed by: Gaspar Noe
DoP.: Benoît Debie


This film is a technical and visual masterpiece. The camera movements, crane usage, neon lights and hallucinatory nature of it are just spectacular. Noe's ability to make the viewer feel nauseous but also intrigued enough that we don't switch off are almost unparalleled. The feeling of flying through the Tokyo night air and peeping in on these people's troubled lives is a hell of an experience.

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No.28: 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939)
Directed by: Victor Fleming
DoP.: Harold Rosson


Is there much to say about this film that hasn't already been said? Timeless, pioneering, groundbreaking, masterpiece. The film ushered a new dawn of colour in film. Just imagine the audience's faces in theatres watching this.

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No.27: 'Lawrence of Arabia' (1962)
Directed by: David Lean
DoP.: Freddie Young


Another technical masterpiece. Freddie Young's visionary cinematography looks as stunning today as ever. Apparently he commissioned Panavision to make a special type of lens to film Omar Shariff's emerging into the desert mirage, it's now known as 'The David Lean lens' in the industry. That type of meticulous attention to detail meant that the film took so long to make (plus the conditions of the desert location in Jordan). Lawrence of Arabia is the epic of all epics.

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No.26: 'The Tree of Life' (2011)
Directed by Terrence Malick
DoP.: Emmanuel Lubezki


The Tree of Life is a polarizing film. Some say it's pretentious, some say life affirming. Surely one thing that everyone can agree on is it's beauty. Lubezki uses his trademark natural light shots as often as he can to give off an other worldly, spiritual tone, and when mixed with underwater shots, volcanoes and other natural phenomena, the film takes on a whole new level of the ethereal. It's not for everybody but it is a beautiful film to look at.



Lawks, five at once eh

Tokyo Drifter is certainly stylish, a shame the whole doesn't quite live up to the way it looks imo but a decent choice for a list such as this. I've tried a couple of Noe fillums and just can't watch them so can't comment on Enter The Void. Love The Wizard Of Oz though, a treat to look at and a delight to watch.

No problem with Lawrence Of Arabia making the list, I remember it being very good but haven't yet felt an urge to devote the time to revisit it, though I do hope I will some day. The Tree Of Life has some nice visuals and is ok once Malick has satisfied himself in those first few minutes.



minds his own damn business
Some say it's pretentious, some say life affirming.
Sometimes some people are just wrong though.
__________________



The trick is not minding
Malick just isn’t the director for me, sadly. I need to watch his post Tree of Life stuff, and Badlands still, but I haven’t been too crazy about his work.



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No. 25: 'The Lady from Shanghai' (1947)
Directed by Orson Welles
DoP.: Charles Lawton Jr.



Welles' genius shines through in this film with placements of camera and reflections in mirrors dizzying the viewer into a claustrophobic and hallucinatory experience. This is one of Welles' masterpieces, helped by cinematographer Charles Lawton Jnr's genius ideas. Sometimes this film doesn't get the praise it deserves and people focus on W3lles' other films but it really should be up there in the conversation as it's not just a great looking noir but also a very well structured film with Rita Hayworth and Welles himself giving A Grade performances.


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No. 24: 'An Actor's revenge' (1963)
Directed by: Kon Ichikawa
DoP.: Setsuo Kobayashi



This is a film that has had a few iterations in Japanese cinema as the story is quite a famous one in Japanese culture. I can't claim to have seen all versions but the 1963 version by Ichikawa is so visually impressive that it has to make the list. The story itself is a little contrived but the visuals make up for it - with set design and lights that turn on and off making a really noticeable aesthetic.



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No.23: 'Werckmeister Harmonies' (2000)
Directed by: Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky
DoP.: Patrick de Ranter, Miklós Gurbán, Erwin Lanzensberger, Gábor Medvigy, Emil Novák, Rob Tregenza


Tarr's masterpiece is essentially 39 slow paced tracking shots stitched together and has a life size whale. Some of the images are just mesmerizing in their beauty and others are sparse contrast of black figures on white background. The cinematography was undertaken by a team rather than a head of photography, and the result is just a beautiful, poignant rumination on modern Hungary.


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No. 22: 'Vertigo' (1958)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
DoP.: Robert Burks


Hitchcock uses green so well in this film, to elevate that colour into the viewer's consciousness as the colour of mystery and the eternal. It's such a beautiful film to watch unfold even as the horror elements entwine with the love story.


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No. 21: 'Mirror' (1975)
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
DoP.: Georgi Rerberg




Tarkovsky and long time collaborator Georgi Rerberg produced one of the most stunning films of the 1970s in 'Mirror'. As with alot of Tarkovsky's films there is a very loose plot and the film resembles visual poetry more than a traditional narrative.


But it is a sublime work of art that drifts from monochrome back to colour and has striking sequences of slow motion glass crashing, floating women and birds landing on people's heads. Part of the film is based on the life of Tarkovsky's own father as he has a painful divorce from his mother (who actually appears in the film).

The Mirror really shows off Tarkovsky's perfectionist trait - the final version of the film is apparently the 33rd version Tarkovsky filmed. He binned the first 32. And the gust of wind we see in the early field scene is created by a helicopter that was positioned out of shot.



The Lady From Shanghai certainly has some inventive shots and is a decent enough watch, shame about Welles' accent in it though. Not seen either An Actor's Revenge or Werckmeister Harmonies so can't comment on them specifically, both 60s Japanese colour and crisp b&w in general are both certainly looks I love though.

I'm not the hugest fan of the tale in Vertigo but there's no denying it's quite a stylish looking fillum. Mirror is my favourite Tarkovsky so naturally I'm delighted to see it make this list.