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Best Roger Deakins Films That You Can Add To Your Watchlist

Roger Deakins, the cinematographic magician, has dazzled audiences with his spellbinding visual storytelling. With a keen eye for the tiniest of details, Deakins has conjured up some of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring visuals to ever grace the silver screen. From blockbuster hits to indie gems, this wizard of the lens has cast his spell on every genre, earning him a well-deserved place among the greatest cinematographers of all time. This article will take a close look at many of Deakins’ most celebrated films, each of which exemplifies his extraordinary skill and originality as a cinematographer. 

Sicario (2015)

In “Sicario,” helmed by Denis Villeneuve, we follow the story of Kate Macer, a fiery Federal investigator with a passion for justice, who is handpicked by a clandestine government task force to bring down a notorious drug cartel operating across the perilous US-Mexico border. As Kate delves deeper into the mission, she realizes that the battle is not as straightforward as it seems, and the lines between right and wrong become increasingly blurred. As she embarks on her mission, Kate experiences first-hand the savagery and deceit of both the cartels and the government agencies responsible for taking them down. She finds herself caught in a dangerous and unpredictable web of violence and betrayal that challenges her to rethink her own beliefs about morality and justice. 

The visual language of “Sicario,” masterfully executed by the legendary Roger Deakins, transcends beyond just capturing images on film; it tells a story that grips you with a vice-like intensity and immerses you in the bleak and unforgiving world of the drug trade. Deakins’ manipulation of color, contrast, and composition elevates the movie’s aesthetics to a whole new level of sophistication.  

Skyfall (2012)

Get ready for a high-stakes ride in “Skyfall,” directed by Sam Mendes, where James Bond takes on the daunting task of apprehending the wily Raoul Silva, a notorious criminal mastermind. As MI6 comes under attack and the life of M hangs in the balance, Bond must confront the shadows of his past and his inner demons to save the day. With a breathtaking journey that takes him from the vibrant streets of Shanghai to the rugged Scottish mountains, Bond teams up with a dynamic duo – the tech genius Q and the daring field agent Eve – to take on Silva, his most formidable adversary yet.

Deakins employs cutting-edge techniques to create breathtakingly beautiful sequences that are a feast for the eyes. The characters are shrouded in mystery and danger, often concealed or disguised by the surroundings, thanks to Deakins’ expert use of reflective surfaces, music, and mirrors. With his masterful use of color, contrast, and framing, Deakins elevates this action flick into a cinematic masterpiece.

Rango (2011)

In my personal opinion, “Rango,” directed by Gore Verbinski and shot by veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins, is the greatest animated movie ever made. 

The movie takes you on an epic journey with Rango, the curious chameleon who finds himself stranded in the Mojave Desert after an unexpected detour on a road trip with his owner. As he traverses the harsh desert terrain, Rango stumbles upon the town of Dirt, a place in dire need of water. As he investigates the root of the town’s water shortage, Rango discovers that he has a hidden talent for playing the part of a gunslinging hero. Armed with newfound courage and quick wits, Rango must face off against a motley crew of renegades in his quest to save the town from impending doom.

With his masterful use of light and shadow, Deakins creates a three-dimensional world that is so real you’ll feel as if you could reach out and touch it. His compositions and camera angles are also nothing short of genius, contributing to the film’s playful and whimsical tone while also heightening the tension during the action-packed sequences.

The Company Men (2010)

Get ready to witness a story that hits close to home in “The Company Men,” directed by John Wells. The film follows Bobby Walker, a sales superstar who suddenly finds himself out of a job due to a corporate overhaul. As he struggles to find a new vocation, he’s forced to confront the emotional toll of his layoff and the uncertainty of his future. Joining Bobby on this bumpy ride are his former colleagues Gene and Phil, both of whom are also dealing with their own post-layoff struggles. The three of them must navigate the turbulent waters of unemployment and find a way to move forward, even when the future seems bleak and uncertain.

The movie is captured by none other than the legendary Roger Deakins.  With a keen eye for detail and an unparalleled ability to capture the nuances of human emotion, Deakins weaves a visual tapestry that perfectly complements the film’s dark and melancholic tone. The film’s despondent ambiance is carefully crafted to draw the viewer into the character’s internal conflicts, allowing them to experience the same emotional rollercoaster as the characters themselves.

Unbroken (2014)

“Unbroken” is an epic biographical film directed by Angelina Jolie that traces the remarkable journey of Louis Zamperini, a young athlete who rose to fame after participating in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Despite his early success, he enlisted in the US Army Air Forces during World War II and became a member of a bomber crew. Zamperini’s plane is shot down over the Pacific, and he, along with two of his comrades, is stranded at sea for a grueling 47 days. Their struggle for survival is only the beginning of Zamperini’s incredible story, as they are later captured by the Japanese navy and taken to a prisoner-of-war camp where Zamperini endures unimaginable torture and hardship.

Deakins masterfully utilizes the brilliance of natural sunlight to depict the arduous journey of Louis Zamperini, illuminating his struggles and despair as he faces the unforgiving reality of being stranded in an unknown country. Deakins’ utilization of darkness and light creates a dramatic and disturbing image of a man fighting against overwhelming odds to stay alive.


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