Along with Roger Deakins, Emmanuel Lubezki is probably the most revered cinematographer working today. His career behind the camera spans over two decades and has resulted in three Oscars and several collaborations with film icons like Terrence Malick, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Click through the gallery to look back at Lubezki’s legendary cinematography career through 20 jaw-dropping shots.
Lubezki worked with Cuarón before shooting the family drama “A Little Princess,” but the 1991 movie was the first time Lubezki’s work was recognized by the Academy. He earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
Lubezki’s work on Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” is largely recognized as his American breakthrough. The cinematographer boldly brought Burton’s love for all things Gothic and German Expressionism to the big screen.
Lubezki earned his second Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography thanks to “Sleepy Hollow.” He won the honor at the Online Film Critics Society Awards and the Satellite Awards.
“Y Tu Mamá También” marked Lubezki’s fifth collaboration with Alfonso Cuarón, following “Love in the Time of Hysteria,” an episode of “Fallen Angels,” “A Little Princess,” and “Great Expectations.”
Lubezki channeled his Gothic-inspired work on Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” when dreaming up the visuals for this adaptation of the popular literary series.
“The New World” is the first parternship between Lubezki and Terrence Malick, and it marked the start of a very beautiful friendship. The cinematographer earned his third Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
IndieWire recently named “The New World” one of the 25 most beautiful films of the 21st century. “Lubezki’s nimble camera movements give Malick’s images a distinctly ephemeral feel, while at the same time syncing up with the characters to capture strong emotional beats,” we said.
Lubezki has helped shape Malick’s more abstract and poetic storytelling style. His camera in “The New World” captures the near transcendent connection between nature and the Native Americans.
Lubezki earned his fourth Oscar nomination for Cuarón’s “Children of Men.” Among the many prizes he won during the season was his first BAFTA for Best Cinematography.
“Children of Men” ranked #6 on IndieWire’s list of the 25 films with the best cinematography in the 21st century. Lubezki’s long takes in particular earned acclaim from critics, including a seven-minute tracking shot following Clive Owen’s character running through a military blitz.
“The Tree of Life” is perhaps the defining work of both Lubezki and Terrence Malick’s career. Lubezki won over 10 prizes from critic groups for his work on the sprawling epic and was nominated for his fifth Oscar for Best Cinematograophy.
Lubezki and Malick filmed most of “The Tree of Life” in Texas neighborhoods, including Smithville, Bastrop, and Malick’s hometown of Waco.
“The Tree of Life” was only the second collaboration between Malick and Lubezki, yet it solidified the duo as one of the best director-cinematographer pairings in film history.
Lubezki and Malick quickly followed up “The Tree of Life” with the more polarizing “To the Wonder,” starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, and Rachel McAdams. His work juxtaposed the intimacy of the film’s central relationships with the larger void of the natural world.
Lubezki filmed in Oklahoma on the Native American plains of the Osage Nation. Even critics who disliked the movie’s meandering story still admitted Lubezki’s work was in top form.
Lubezki finally won his first Oscar for Best Cinematography thanks to his visual effects-heavy work on Cuarón’s “Gravity.” The cinematographer gave his camera a weightless and slow handheld feel to effectively capture the zero-gravity sensation of space.
“Birdman” was famously edited together to appear as if it was shot in only one take, which represented a huge challenge for Lubezki and Alejandro González Iñárritu to make sure the camera was perfectly timed and blocked to lead into an unnoticeable edit. Lubezki won his second Oscar for his work.
Lubezki earned his third Oscar for Best Cinematography in a row, thanks to Iñárritu’s “The Revenant.” The film was shot in Canada, the United States, and Argentina using only natural light.
Lubezki has won a total of three Oscars against eight nominations. “The Revenant” production was infamously plagued as Iñárritu demanded to shoot chronologically.