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Britain's Top Ten Film Cinematographers

Britain's Top Ten Film Cinematographers
David Wood
14 May 2014

Televisual’s list of the top ten DPs working in the UK film industry is complied with the help of working cinematographers and grading artists, but the final list is Televisual’s alone.

It’s a tough list to get onto, with DPs having to demonstrate a healthy roster of films either completed in the last 12 months, in production or preferably both.

One of the names to make this year’s list is British Born but LA-based Roger Deakins, an easy choice because his CV is littered with outstanding films.

His latest is Unbroken in 2014, the character-driven story of the US immigrant and Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces in World War II and survived – written the Joel and Ethan Coen and directed by Angelina Jolie. 

Deakins attributes his success to be at least in in part to being picky about the sort of material he choses. “Usually I'm drawn to scripts that are about characters, I don't have a love of doing action movies,” says the man who shot Skyfall for Sam Mendes but then turned down the chance for a second bite at Bond.

Deakins’ eleven Oscar nominations (including Skyfall, True Grit, No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Fargo, The Shawshank Redemption) speak for themselves,” says Rushes colourist Simona Harrison.

“Roger Deakins work has been consistently outstanding and beautiful (though how he has never actually won an Oscar is almost as astounding as his films!).”
Harrison adds: “His willingness to adopt digital processes and technology helps to keep him at the forefront of his form. One of the first to abandon chemical colour timing and experiment with test footage in digital colour correction, O Brother Where Art Thou?’ became the first feature film to be entirely colour corrected in this process.”

Deakins continues to lead from the front, acting as visual consultant on animated features including WALL-E, Rango and How to Train your Dragon.

Other outstanding British DPs on this year’s list include Northern Ireland’s Seamus McGarvey – a DP on most directors' A-List.

Oscar-nominated for Atonement, his latest projects include high profile features Fifty Shades of Grey, Godzilla and Warner Bros Pan, directed by Joe Wright.

Seamus McGarvey

Barry Ackroyd makes the list for lensing Paul Greengrass’ thriller Captain Phillips. Ackroyd is also known for collaborating with directing talent such as Ken Loach, (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).

Prolific cinematographer Ben Davis makes has started to carve out a superhero niche for himself, following Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy set for release this summer with Univeral's Avengers: Age of Ultron, currently shooting at Shepperton.

Work has been fast and furious since his feature debut Miranda in 2002. British mystery thriller Before I Go To Sleep is also slated for release this year, joining a roster of  recent credits include Kick-Ass, I Give It a Year, Seven Psychopaths, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Wrath of the Titans.

Rob Hardy also stands our for the The Invisible Woman, his Ralph Fiennes directed  feature which typifies his “beautiful and eye-catching” cinematography.

Veteran Dick Pope, the DP behind the award-winiing The Illusionist, who recently shot Mike Leigh's latest Mr Turner, joins this year's list along with Texan-born but UK-based filmmaker Sean Francis Bobbitt BSC, who shot this year multiple-Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave.

DPs who just missed the cut this year include German-born Alwin Kuchler (Divergent), and Danny Cohen who is shooting London Road and X Plus Y as well as an untitled Lance Armstrong biopic. Tat Radcliffe, ('71, Pride), Ed Rutherford (The Silent Storm) and Michael McDonough (Elsa & Fred) were also cited as one's to watch.

There's no room in the list for talented DPs who do most of their best work in TV drama. Names such as Ole Birkeland (Utopia, the Arbor, Up There), Lol Crawley (Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom, biopic Dau) Matt Gray (Broadchurch, The Crimson Field) George Steel (Peaky Blinders) and Bafta nominated ‚Ä®John Conroy (Luther, Mr Selfridge, Upstairs Downstairs) have all stood out on the small screen in the last year but haven’t done enough outstanding features work for our list.

The list also illustrates that feature cinematography is a tough place for female filmmakers. Despite some notable suggestions it seems that women have difficulty breaking through into the top ranks of cinematographers.

Televisual's Top Ten Cinematographers

1 Roger Deakins
Credits: Unbroken, The Village, Prisoners, Skyfall, True Grit, No Country for Old Men

2. Barry Ackroyd
Credits: Dark Places, Captain Phillips, Parkland, The Hurt Locker, Green Zone, United 93

3. Sean Francis Bobbitt

Credits: Kill The Messenger, 12 Years A Slave, Oldboy, Byzantium, A Place Beyond The Pines, Shame

4 Robbie Ryan

Credits: Slow West, Philomena, Catch Me Daddy, Last Days on Mars, The Karman Line, Tell Me About Yourself

5 Ben Davis
Credits: Univeral's Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Before I Go To Sleep, Kick-Ass, I Give It a Year, Seven Psychopaths, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wrath of the Titans.

6 Seamus McGarvey
Credits: Pan, Fifty shades of Grey, Godzilla, Anna Karenina, We Need to talk about Kevin, Atonement, The Avengers

7 Dick Pope
Credits: Mr Turner, Angelica, Cuban Fury,The Illustionist

8 Anthony Dod Mantle

Credits: Heart of the Sea, Rush, Trance, Dredd, The Eagle, 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire

9 Rob Hardy
Credits: Ex Machina, Tracks, Physics, Every Secret Thing, The Invisible Woman, Testament of Youth

10 John Mathieson
Credits: Pan, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., 47 Ronin,  Great Expectations, X-Men: First Class

All comments
paul  | May 15, 2014
You mean British and Irish? Seamus McGarvey, Robbie Ryan

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