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 won his first Oscar for 2018’s Blade Runner 2049, but he could be on tap to win his second with the astounding World War I film 1917. So in anticipation of 1917 (which opens in limited release on Christmas Day), but most importantly in celebration of Deakins’ work, I decided to pick out Deakins’ 11 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 11.
So behold, the films that showcase Roger Deakins’ best work.