A heartbroken young man staring into a fire. A mute woman embracing the only person who truly understands her. A silhouette navigating a firey futuristic wasteland. Many of this year’s Oscar nominees happen to be home to some of the best shots of 2017. We gathered up some of our favorite shots from this year’s nominees. Click through the gallery to see all 15, and let us know your favorites in the comments section.
Sean Baker directs “The Florida Project” as if you’re seeing the world through the eyes of his six-year-old protagonist, which means everything is big, bright, and beautiful, even a poverty-stricken hotel on the fringes of Disney World. The hotel is Moonee’s very own Magic Kingdom, and that’s exactly how Baker and DP Alexis Zabe envision it.
The majority of “Blade Runner 2049” takes place within a dark and stormy Los Angeles, so Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins knew they needed a jaw-dropper of an image when smash cutting from LA to Las Vegas. Deakins, nominated for his 14th Oscar for Best Cinematography, created a fiery wasteland for this section of the film, drawing inspiration from the 2009 Australian dust storm.
The final shot of Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name” is a gut punch in every sense of the term. Guadagnino and DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom leave the camera planted on Elio for several minutes as he processes his heartache. The reflection of flames illuminates Elio’s tears and provides an ample metaphor for the feelings burning up inside him. In the background, the world just casually moves forward. If there’s a more devastating shot among this year’s Oscar nominees, please tell us.
Greta Gerwig’s direction throughout “Lady Bird” emphasizes the central mother-daughter relationship. The first images we see in the film are of the two checking out of a hotel room, first sleeping face to face and gradually growing apart. Gerwig tells us all we need to know about the pair’s relationship in these beginning shots.
Say whatever you want about the story of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” but you can’t deny that it is one of the most visually stimulating entries in the space franchise. Rian Johnson went all out when filming Supreme Leader Snoke’s throne room, capturing the symmetrical precision of Kubrick and the atmospheric colors of Argento to create something “Star Wars” fans truly had never seen before.
Guillermo del Toro ends “The Shape of Water” on this stunner of a shot, which powerfully speaks to the way the film effortlessly manages to mix genuine romantic passion with more fantastical plot elements. The image provides one final swoon to every audience member who has fallen head over heels for this unlikely love story.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ “Kong: Skull Island” earned an Oscar nomination in the Best Visual Effects category, and epic shots like this one are probably the reason why. Vogt-Roberts was often vocal about how his vision for the blockbuster was inspired by Vietnam war films like “Apocalypse Now,” and you can see that influence tenfold here.
“Baby Driver” is competing for three Oscars this year in Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Film Editing, but Edgar Wright could’ve used way more consideration in the directing category. His actions scenes were exhilarating and his visual metaphors were always on point. Here we see Baby looming large over a toy model car, his driving dominance solidified in one image.
Sometimes a shot becomes so incredible simply because of what it’s capturing, and that’s the case with this medium close-up of Margot Robbie as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. Director Craig Gillespie has Robbie stare right into the camera as Tonya tries to hide her emotional devastation behind a fake smile. It’s an image that leaves the viewer rattled.
“Now sink into the floor.” With those instant-classic words, Jordan Peele unleashes the most searing image of his social thriller “Get Out.” Peele has spoken about how the Sunken Place represents black disenfranchisement in Hollywood, and he drives that point home in this shot. Here we see Chris forcibly removed from his own story and forced to watch a now white-washed reality on the screen in front of him.
Christopher Nolan wanted the danger to feel palpable in “Dunkirk,” so he relied almost entirely on practical effects and stuck cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and his camera right on the ground as explosions rocked the set. This shot gets down on the ground with star Fionn Whitehead as German bombers take aim at Dunkirk beach in the foreground. The explosions get closer and closer and suddenly the setting becomes all too visceral.
Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner “The Square” is among the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. The director really drives home his art world critique in shots like these, dominating the frame with a vapid art installation and showing the careless, unimpressed patrons peaking around the corner.
Rachel Morrison’s work on Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” made her the first woman ever nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar in the ceremony’s 90-year history. Morrison excells at blending bodies into the deep Southern landscape throughout the movie, almost using sunrises and sunsets to create a chiaroscuro effect.
The sculptor studies the scultupre in this composition from Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread.” When he’s not moving the camera around, Anderson often relies on meticulous blocking techniques to direct your eye to the subject of the frame. Here he traps Alma in between the wooden door panels as to make her the object of the frame.
Here’s what happens when you reduce an entire feature into one amazing shot. Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” deals a lot with themes of identity and gender, and here the main character Marina confronts these themes head on. DP Benjamín Echazarreta told Variety about crafting the shot: “The question is where is the identity? In the genitals? In the mind? That’s what the image is questioning.”