Oftentimes, cinematographers are the unsung heroes of their films. They work diligently and artfully to craft the light, framing, and atmosphere of a film’s shots, all the while ensuring that it’s in support of story and character. But one cinematographer’s name in particular is on the level of filmmakers like Martin Scorsese or David Fincher, and that’s Roger Deakins. Actors flat-out admit they sign on to films just to work with Deakins, and he’s one of the most in-demand cinematographers working today.
Deakins is a master cinematographer not just because the films he shoots are gorgeous (they are), but because the way in which he approaches a film is unique and, at times, unconventional. He uses light in an incredibly distinct way, and yet the feel of a Roger Deakins-shot film never detracts from the story at hand. Moreover, if the story is, say, subpar, Deakins’ work automatically elevates the material at hand.
For some insane reason Deakins has yet to win an Oscar even though he’s been nominated thirteen times, but by most accounts that could finally change with his work on Blade Runner 2049, his first sci-fi film since 1984’s 1984. So in anticipation of Blade Runner 2049, but most importantly in celebration of Deakins’ work, I decided to pick out Deakins’ 10 best-shot films. The truth is this list could be twice as long without getting into iffy quality—the guy is a bona fide master—but, for the purposes of this list, I’ve arbitrarily narrowed it down to 10.
So behold, the films that showcase Roger Deakins’ best work.