I just saw "The Thin Red Line", which has some fantastic anamorphic photography by John Toll. Considering how much of the film was shot in natural light (from very bright exterior fields to scenes in the dark jungle) it was amazingly consistent. Not too many jumps in terms of graininess or depth-of-field WITHIN REASON (after all, you are talking about combats shot in a wide variety of weather and time of day...) There are some great shots where you can see the sunlight passing from the background hills to the foreground soldiers, "exposing" them in the bright light. Very sharp, good focus-pulling considering the anamorphic photography at low light levels, fine-grained, rich blacks. Obviously shot over a long production period with a good second unit crew - sort of "Days of Heaven" in the Pacific Islands...
My personal favorites this year for cinematography:
The Thin Red Line
A Civil Action (a must-see for Conrad Hall fans)
Tango (a must-see for Storaro fans)
Saving Private Ryan
Out of Sight
The Horse Whisperer
Character (from '97 but saw this year)
City of Angels
It's sort of interesting to compare "The Thin Red Line", "A Civil Action", and "Tango" because they are radically different from each other, yet all great photographically. "A Civil Action" is the most humble and low-key, yet Hall manages to make magic happen in very ordinary locations. "The Thin Red Line" has a sort of "the best of National Geographic Magazine" photographic style, mixing naturalism with surrealism and poetry in an epic widescreen frame. "Tango" is like visual music - the movements of the dancers, the emotions displayed, etc. all are made visual by Storaro's use of camera movement and lighting cues.
Let the storm begin.
My two favorites (And in 'Murikin, two cents worth), "Contact" and "The Mask of Zorro".
Prime examples of beautiful films.
Jerry (Now a fan of Zeta's) Wolfe
In addition to these I would like to add "SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET" and "PI".
MICHAEL K. KUENTZ
I thought Sweet Hereafter was 97? In any event it was splendidly photographed and a brilliant/much overlooked film.
Must also concur with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THIN RED LINE (although I can't say I cared for the film), and a big Hollywood vote to BLADE which I thought had stunning action sequences and was surprisingly entertaining.
Happy New Year
I would have to say my favorites are Thin Red Line, A Civil Action, and Saving Private Ryan. ..and mabey Snake Eyes. I liked the lighting in Elizabeth, but I thought there were many poorly chosen camera angles.
I'm enjoying reading everyone's best picks of '98. I hope more of you will add your fave's to this ongoing list. Here's mine:
Contact (I saw this a few times - kudos to Mr. Burgess. Gave me the warm fuzzies all throughout)
Saving Private Ryan (the most terrifying piece of film making I've ever seen)
American History X
The Red Violin (canadian vote)
The Sweet Hereafter (canadian vote)
That's it - there were lots more, but they were older films that I saw for the first time this year - so they don't count officially.
Wishing everyone a prosperous and rewarding new year,
Jeremy "snow shovel" Benning
my 2 cents
happy together (raw & gritty)
fallen angels (i saw it over a year ago, it didnt get u.s. release until last year)
fear and loathing in las vegas (both cinematography and grip work)
velvet goldmine (amazing textures and an uncanny reproduction of old film stocks--not just styles, but film stocks)
these are all films that took chances with their cinematography and succeeded. they dont have the sharpest lenses or the requisite landscape shots, but they look amazing.
--octavio fenech, nyc
As a newcomber, I would like to add my five favorites.
1. Saving Private Ryan, I was in Nam, this film was intense, it scared the heck out of me.
2. Heat, the shot of Robert DeNiro raising his weapon behind the windshield of the getaway car with his sunglasses and going to slo-mo was great, the white hockey masks were also excellent.
3. Quest For Fire, great cinematography and location
4. Manhunter by Michael Mann, great symbolism, and the final sequence was excellent.
5. On a Midnight Clear, just all around good filmaking.
Take care out there.
Gregory david Stempel
I have seen most of the bigger films that other members have voted on, but the one film that really stands out in my mind for Best Cinematography of '98 is a film titled "High Art". It was written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko; the cinematography by Tami Reiker; starred Ally Sheedy. The photography, especially the lighting, had guts.