And the Oscar Should Have Gone to: Best Cinematography

Continuing with lists related to the Oscars, this week I picked an Oscar category at random to list all the movies that one and what I think should have one. The first category for this type of list is Best Cinematography. For the Oscar winner, I’ll give a grade based only on the film’s cinematography, not the overall merit of the movie, and then place my choice for what should have won that year. For several years, the Oscars separated cinematography into black & white and color categories; I will only include one for those years. My rule for eligibility is based on the year of each film’s American theatrical release, and this is not always consistent with the Oscars.


1927/28 Sunrise (A+); my pick: Wings

1929 White Shadows in the South Sea (Unseen); my pick: The Passion of Joan of Arc

1930 With Byrd at the South Pole (Unseen); my pick: All Quiet on the Western Front

1931 Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (A+); my pick: Little Caesar

1932  Shanghai Express (Unseen); my pick: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

1933 A Farewell to Arms (Unseen); my pick: M

1934 Cleopatra (A+); I agree

1935 A Midsummer Night’s Dream (A+); I agree

1936 B&W Anthony Adverse (Unseen); COLOR The Garden of Allah (Unseen); my pick: Modern Times

1937 B&W The Good Earth (B+); COLOR A Star Is Born (B); my pick: Captains Courageous

1938 B&W The Great Waltz (Unseen); COLOR Sweethearts (Unseen); my pick: The Adventures of Robin Hood

1939 B&W Wuthering Heights (A+); COLOR Gone with the Wind (A+); my pick: Gone with the Wind

1940 B&W Rebecca (A+); COLOR The Thief of Bagdad (Unseen); my pick: Rebecca

1941 B&W How Green Was My Valley (A+); COLOR Blood and Sand (Unseen); my pick: Citizen Kane

1942 B&W Mrs. Miniver (A+); COLOR The Black Swan (A-); my pick: Casablanca

1943 B&W The Song of Burnadette (A-); COLOR Phantom of the Opera (Unseen); my pick: The Ox-Bow Incident

1944 B&W Laura (A+); COLOR Wilson (Unseen); my pick: Gaslight

1945 B&W The Picture of Dorian Gray (Unseen); COLOR Leave Her to Heaven; my pick: The Lost Weekend

1946 B&W Anna and the King of Siam (A); COLOR The Yearling (C); my pick: Notorious

1947 B&W Great Expectations (Unseen); COLOR Black Narcissus (A+); my pick: Black Narcissus

1948 B&W The Naked City (A-); COLOR Joan of Arc (Unseen); my pick: Red River

1949 B&W Battleground (Unseen); COLOR She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (A+); my pick: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

1950 B&W The Third Man (A+); COLOR King Solomon’s Mines; my pick: The Third Man

1951 B&W A Place in the Sun; COLOR An American in Paris; my pick: Strangers on a Train

1952 B&W The Bad and the Beautiful (Unseen); COLOR The Quiet Man (A+); my pick: The Quiet Man

1953 B&W From Here to Eternity (B-); COLOR Shane (A+); my pick: Shane

1954 B&W On the Waterfront (A+); COLOR Three Coins in the Fountain (Unseen); my pick: On the Waterfront

1955 B&W The Rose Tattoo (B-); COLOR To Catch a Thief (B+); my pick: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

1956 B&W Somebody up There Likes Me (A); COLOR Around the World in 80 Days (A+); my pick: The Searchers

1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai (A-); my pick: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

1958 B&W The Defiant Ones (A-); COLOR Gigi (B+); my pick: Vertigo

1959 B&W Ben-Hur (A+); COLOR The Diary of Anne Frank (Unseen); my pick: Ben-Hur

1960 B&W Sons and Lovers (Unseen); COLOR Spartacus (A+); my pick: Psycho

1961 B&W The Hustler (B); COLOR West Side Story (D); my pick: Pit and the Pendulum

1962 B&W The Longest Day (Unseen); COLOR Lawrence of Arabia (A+); my pick: Lawrence of Arabia

1963 B&W Hud (B-); COLOR Cleopatra (Unseen); my pick: How the West Was Won

1964 B&W Zorba the Greek (A-); COLOR My Fair Lady (B); my pick: Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

1965 B&W Ship of Fools (A); COLOR Doctor Zhivago (A+); my pick: Doctor Zhivago

1966 B&W Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (A+); COLOR A Man for All Seasons (C); my pick: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 Bonnie and Clyde (A+); my pick: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

1968 Romeo and Juliet (A); my pick: 2001: A Space Odyssey

1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (A); my pick: Easy Rider

1970 Ryan’s Daughter (Unseen); my pick: Patton

1971 Fiddler on the Roof (A+); I agree

1972 Cabaret (A+); I agree

1973 Cries and Whispers (Unseen); my pick: Badlands

1974 The Towering Inferno (Unseen); my pick: The Conversation

1975 Barry Lyndon (A+); I agree

1976 Bound for Glory (Unseen); my pick: Taxi Driver

1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (A+); I agree

1978 Days of Heaven (A+); I agree

1979 Apocalypse Now (A+); my pick: The Black Stallion

1980 Tess (Unseen); my pick: Raging Bull

1981 Reds (A); my pick: On Golden Pond

1982 Gandhi (A); my pick: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1983 Fanny and Alexander (Unseen); my pick: The Right Stuff

1984 The Killing Fields (Unseen); my pick: Amadeus

1985 Out of Africa (A+); my pick: Ran

1986 The Mission (Unseen); my pick: Platoon

1987 The Last Emperor (A+); my pick: Lethal Weapon

1988 Mississippi Burning (A); my pick: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

1989 Glory (A); my pick: The Adventures of Milo and Otis

1990 Dances with Wolves (A); my pick: Goodfellas

1991 JFK (C-); my pick: Backdraft

1992 A River Runs through It (B); my pick: Unforgiven

1993 Schindler’s List (A+); I agree

1994 Legends of the Fall (Unseen); my pick: Ed Wood

1995 Braveheart (B); my pick: Babe

1996 The English Patient (A-); my pick: Fargo

1997 Titanic (C+); my pick: The Sweet Hereafter

1998 Saving Private Ryan (A); my pick: A Simple Plan

1999 American Beauty (A); my pick: Snow Falling on Cedars

2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (A+); I agree

2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (A+); my pick: Moulin Rouge

2002 Road to Perdition (Unseen); my pick: Far from Heaven

2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Unseen); my pick: Mystic River

2004 The Aviator (A); my pick: Hero

2005 Memoirs of a Geisha (A); my pick: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

2006 Pan’s Labyrinth (Unseen); my pick: The Illusionist

2007 There Will Be Blood (A+); I agree

2008 Slumdog Millionaire (A); my pick: Man on Wire

2009 Avatar (A); my pick: Nine

2010 Inception (C); my pick: True Grit

2011 Hugo (A+); my pick: The Tree of Life

2012 Life of Pi (C-); my pick: Zero Dark Thirty

2013 Gravity (A+); I agree

2014 Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (A); my pick: Ida

2015 The Revenant (A); my pick: Room


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