‘Lawrence of Arabia’ Tops ASC List of 10 Best-Shot Films of the 20th Century

Epics dominated this list of visual artistry, where there's room for black-and-white gems "Citizen Kane" and "Raging Bull." But so many memorable movies didn't make the cut.
Lawrence of Arabia Tops ASC List of 10 Best-Shot Films of 20th Century
"Lawrence of Arabia"

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) celebrates its 100th anniversary on Tuesday by unveiling two lists devoted to 20th century visual achievements: the 100 Milestone Films and the top 10 Best-Shot Films, led by “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Young.

The rest of the Top 10 list includes sci-fi classics “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), shot by Geoffrey Unsworth, and “Blade Runner” (1982), shot by Jordan Cronenweth; two from director Francis Ford Coppola: “The Godfather” (1972), shot by Gordon Willis, and “Apocalypse Now” (1979), shot by Oscar-winner Vittorio Storaro (also cited for 1970’s “The Conformist,” which influenced “The Godfather”); two black-and-white entries: “Citizen Kane” (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, and “Raging Bull” (1980), shot by Michael Chapman; “Days of Heaven” (1978), shot by Oscar winner Néstor Almendros; and “The French Connection” (1971), shot by five-time Oscar nominee Owen Roizman.

“Citizen Kane”ASC

Alas, there are no silent movies in the top 10 (such as 1927’s “Sunrise,” shot by Oscar winners Charles Rosher and Karl Struss). And there’s no representation of the ’30s (such as 1939’s three-strip Technicolor poster child, “Gone with the Wind,” shot by Oscar winners Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan); ‘the ’50s (such as 1958’s “Vertigo,” shot by Robert Burks); or the ’90s (such as 1999’s “American Beauty,” shot by Oscar winner Conrad Hall).

The lists were voted on by ASC members wanting to call attention to the most significant achievements of cinematographic art. The selected films represent a range of styles, eras, and visual artistry that are inspirational to cinematographers, and continue to influence generations of filmmakers.

Additionally, the City of Los Angeles will recognize the ASC 100th on Tuesday with a proclamation presented by City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell at the ASC’s clubhouse in Hollywood.

ASC 100th Reel – 01:40 from American Cinematographer on Vimeo.

The ASC Top 10 List:

1. “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), shot by Freddie Young, BSC (Dir. David Lean)
2. “Blade Runner” (1982), shot by Jordan Cronenweth, ASC (Dir. Ridley Scott)
3. “Apocalypse Now” (1979), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
4. “Citizen Kane” (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC (Dir. Orson Welles)
5. “The Godfather” (1972), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
6. “Raging Bull” (1980), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
7. “The Conformist” (1970), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
8. “Days of Heaven” (1978), shot by Néstor Almendros, ASC (Dir. Terrence Malick)
9. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), shot by Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC with additional photography by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
10. “The French Connection” (1971), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (Dir. William Friedkin)

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