I don’t know about you guys, but I love me a good-looking film. While it’s important to have a good concept and story, with film being a very visual media, it’s important that it’s also pleasing to the eye. For me personally, cinematography is what really pulls me into a film and makes me feel completely enveloped into that world. Here are a few films, in no particular order, that I think are visual storytelling at its best.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Probably the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when mentioning visually stunning films is Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. A modern classic, Anderson goes wild with visual experimentation. Set in two eras, the 60s and 30s, Anderson cleverly lights them differently and differs the production design slightly. I love the reds and pinks in the scenes set in the 30s, and the warmer yellows and oranges from the scenes set in the 60s. It’s a really smart device to really put you in the moment.
Directed by Spike Jonze, Her has one of my favourite colour palettes in any film ever. It’s set in the future, and the concept is based very much around technology, however it still has a very nostalgic quality. Instead of instilling harsh blues and greys which we often associate with modern technology, cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema eliminated these colours almost completely and favours warmer brighter tones. Jonze’s quote perfectly explains how the film’s visuals make you feel: “We wanted a kind of clean, calm, warm utopian future that has the same struggles and longings to connect that you find everywhere; feelings of isolation and loneliness. I wanted to tap into that a bit.”
You most likely saw this one coming. Think what you will about Christopher Nolan’s award-winning piece, but Inception is pretty impressive when it comes to visual effects. He used just about every special effect under the sun in order to create a world of dream sequences that literally make you question reality and if you’re actually dreaming. And the amazing thing is, not all of it is CGI either. For example, the hallway fight scene was actually man-made, as Nolan actually had a 100-foot-long rotating hallway built, and locked down the camera to rotate with it, to make it look like the actors were defying gravity.
This may be a film that you wouldn’t expect to see in a list like this, but Tangled has stunning visuals from start to finish, and its no wonder, since Tangled is one of Disney’s most expensive animated films, costing them a whopping $260 million to make. It certainly pays off. From the details in Rapunzel’s hair is incredible to the infamous lantern scene with all the romantic peach, pink and yellow tones, everything is beautifully done.
Much like Inception, Interstellar is packed full of special effects, probably because it’s another Christopher Nolan classic. It borrows from films like 2001: A Space Odessy and takes it one step further, working with qualified astrophysicists get the science and visual presentation of black holes, wormholes and other cosmic phenomena right. And fun fact: the cinematography was done by Hoyte van Hoytema, the same guy who did Her.
Do you agree with this list? What are your favourite visually striking films?