10. Coen Brothers Comedies (1991-2009)
I tried picking a favorite among all the films in this category, but I simply couldn’t. There’s something about the Coen’s zany humor that Deakins encapsulates perfectly. Whether it’s John Goodman running down a hellish hallway (or standing among fellow KKK followers), Jeff Bridges flying over Los Angeles, Ryan Hurst getting tackled repeatedly, or Michael Stuhlbarg being swallowed by a massive chalkboard, Deakins is as much a part of the Coen brothers’ comedies as the Coens themselves.
9. The Hurricane (1999)
Even though the boxing scenes in this film amount to just eight minutes of screen time, they (intentionally) evoke Raging Bull in all the best ways. Beyond the boxing flashbacks, Deakins paints much of The Hurricane with little saturation and stark contrast. A very cold and very real looking film.
8. Jarhead (2005)
Roger Deakins’ is primarily known for his decades-long collaboration with the Coen brothers, but his partnership with Sam Mendes is certainly worth mentioning as well. Their three filmic efforts are listed here, beginning with the over exposed, impossibly hot palette of Jarhead. The look of this movie makes me sweat.
7. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
The Man Who Wasn’t There was one of the first films to be shot in color and converted to black and white in post-production. The results are thick blacks and lush grays very rarely seen. In addition, Deakins’ use of shadows here conjures the best that film noir has to offer.
6. Fargo (1996)
I love the shot I’ve screencapped here. The first time I saw the film, I had no idea what I was looking at. Then old William H. Macy came slowly shuffling into frame. This movie just feels cold. And sparse, and desperate, and alone.
5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The shot of Andy Dufresne’s mortified face, followed directly by a gliding POV of him entering the prison for the first time, says more about the hell of incarceration than any monologue possibly could.
4. Revolutionary Road (2008)
It’s the isolation that strikes me most about Deakins’ work for Revolutionary Road. Whether it’s a slow push-in of a neighbor resentfully starring at a house, the cold hue of Kate Winslet hiding in silhouette, or Michael Shannon going nuts out of focus, everything feels so alone.
3. Skyfall (2012)
Skyfall is easily the best-looking James Bond film ever, but, dare I ask, is it the most aesthetically pleasing action film ever shot?
2. No Country For Old Men (2007)
Josh Brolin is running from Spanish thugs. They’re chasing him in a large, loud truck. The sun is coming up behind them, it’s lightning in front of them. And I’m terrified.
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
It’s impossible to pick a single favorite still shot from this movie – every frame is poetic and gorgeous and evocative. I love when cinematography acts as a character in a film, which is certainly the case for The Assassination of Jesse James. Deakins is as big a star of this movie as Brad Pitt. Period.