Important LGBT flicks on NETFLIX

There are countless LGBT movies available on Netflix, and they encompass all sorts of topics and thematic ground, from married lesbians to gay cowboys to bi-sexual femme fatales. We happen to love them all; the writing is great and the feeling real. We’ve scoured the streaming selections on Netflix to bring you our picks for the 10 best LGBT films on Netflix. The movies here are full of iconic directors (Ang Lee, Peter Jackson, Todd Haynes, The Wachowskis, Mike Nichols) and, of course, stars that love to take risks (Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore). These aren't just films from the U.S. – some of the very best LGBT films hail from other countries, where the openness – or closetness – of the culture ends up making for a fascinating depiction of the LGBT community in their neck of the woods. Here are the 10 best LGBT Movies Streaming on Netflix.

Brokeback Mountain
Ang Lee's immaculate depiction of masculinity in the Western genre is a classic that broke barriers in Hollywood. Even though the film lost the Best Picture prize to Crash, it has become the better movie between the two and an all-time LGBT classic. The story of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist's forbidden romance in the outskirts of the Wyoming fields turned more than a few heads when it came out. It tackles the most manly, American genre in cinema and decides to ignite it with homosexuality – something that would almost be thought of as blasphemous just a decade ago — showing how far we've come. The sex scene involving the two cowboys is raw, intimate and riveting enough to have sparked major condemning fireworks in red flag states. Based on Annie Proulx's 1997 short story, the film features what might quite possibly be Heath Ledger's greatest performance as Ennis, a man of few words who can convey the deepest of emotions with just the raising of an eyebrow, but cannot bear to show his love for Jack in the outside world. He longs for him, but lives in a time and place where showing his true feelings might get him killed. Jack Twist is played by Jake Gyllenhaal in a career best performance that is as free-wheeling as it is tragic.
Blue is the Warmest Color
This one needs no introduction as it has taken countless prizes including the Palme d’Or. Its French title is La Vie D'Adèle (Adele's life), which couldn't be more apt because this is very much a movie about a girl growing up and finding her true identity. Adèle — played by the seductive Adèle Exarchopoulos — becomes attracted to blue-haired vixen Léa (Léa Seydoux). Adèle is on an experimentation phase and falls in love hard. It's her first real romance and the high is contagious. The two lovers embark on a sexual journey, which includes a close to 10 minute graphic sex scene, but also an experience that will change them both as they grow up and find their identities in life. It is a simple and very well-told story of love and its decay. Adèle sees the color blue everywhere, and director Abdellatif Kechiche makes sure we do as well by inserting it into the most beautiful of frames. I think it could have been a little shorter than the three hours it runs, but pinpointing what could have been cut is very difficult, as each scene, especially the mundane ones, allow one to feel as if present alongside the characters. Exarchopoulos’ sublimely engrossing acting is astounding. She certainly has an illustrious career ahead of her. Moreover, she was a great choice for Kechiche’s exploration of female sensuality (the shower scene among many is a visual masterpiece). While the sex scenes seemed a little over the top, one must remember they are unique in cinema’s depiction of sex (be it same-sex or not).
The Kids Are All Right
Julianne Moore and Annette Benning play a married couple that go through the same issues any other heterosexual married couple would go through. Benning with her devious yet honest smile is a tour de force as Nic, a woman who only wants the best for her children, even when she can sometimes come out looking harsh and too honest. Julianne Moore, playing Jules, is her wife. Jules feels isolated and resorts to an affair with their kids’ sperm donor Paul, magnificently played by Mark Ruffalo. The scenes between Moore and Ruffalo are tremendous, sexy, touching, and extremely honest. Much credit must be given to Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko, who infuses realism and indie spirit to the film. Cholodenko — 36 at the time — hit a career peak with the film. While her first two features (High Art and Laurel Canyon) had potential, The Kids Are Alright shows the after effects. Born and raised in California’s San Fernando Valley, Cholodenko makes high art out of family manners. Her personal life — she also had a kid through sperm donation with her long-time partner Wendy Melvoin — made this a personal and rewarding independent effort.
Heavenly Creatures
This understated gem by Peter Jackson brought the director's career to its highest peak. Best friends Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet) create an intense fantasy life together — so intense that their parents start to worry about them and suspect that it's more than just fantasy. The girls vow to never let anyone crash the world they've created and go to extremes to protect it. Jackson's disturbing story is first and foremost a love story of the highest order, encompassing a whirlwind of emotions in a fantasy story that feels all too raw and real. It doesn't depict the love between these two girls in an outright obvious way, but the small touches and gestures make the viewer realize that this is more than just an intense friendship. It’s as much a horror movie as it is a fantasy or love story: a murder occurs, but the blindness of being in love in a world that cannot acknowledge that makes the girls shun the outside world. The film wouldn't be the masterpiece it is without Winslet and Lynskey's chemistry, which at times can veer towards the intensely scary. It is a perfectly cast film that has aged like fine wine over time.
Beginners
Christopher Plummer won a much deserved first Oscar at the tender age of 82 for his role as Hal Fields, an elderly man who finds out he has terminal cancer and decides to tell his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) that he's actually always been gay and has a lover. Oliver, a graphic artist, tells us the story through his viewpoint, from his childhood and the problematic relationship of his parents all the way to the outing of his dad and his subsequent death. Plummer is charming but devastating as a man who finally opens up to the world and feels a freedom that he quite clearly never had throughout his adult life. Director Mike Mills' film is a personal project as he went through the same story that the film depicts. This is very much a love letter to his dad who learned to live and enjoy life just when it was too late. It's a touching and poignant story that deals with real-life topics and can't help but hit us on the most personal of levels. The fact that stories like this do happen in everyday life only enhances the melancholic sadness of the surroundings.
Velvet Goldmine
Todd Haynes' film, Velvet Goldmine, is a masterful tribute/love letter to the glam/glitter rock movement of the 1970s. All the audience really knows of Velvet Goldmine's idols is what any fan would know. We experience the story through interviews and musical performances, and that astoundingly provides us with enough information. It's the aesthetic of "man's life is his image"– that superficial beauty expressed through art reveals so much more than at first glance. Glam rock superstar, Brian Slade (based on David Bowie), is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers to perfection with his thin, effeminate looks and swaggering. Haynes has great fun with the notion that there was a time in popular culture history that androgyny and bisexuality were seen as a cool fad. Velvet Goldmine's main story is Brian Slade's rise to and fall from fame. Slade's cold and calculating ways accumulate in the hoax of his own assassination — the ultimate symbol for the death of glam rock. His most sympathetic side is revealed during his affair and subsequent break-up with punk rocker Curt Wild. Ewan McGregor plays Curt Wild by feverishly emulating Iggy Pop — although the history of Wild having electroshock therapy to cure his homosexual leanings is straight from the life of rock icon Lou Reed. Both Rhys Meyers and McGregor do their own singing for their characters. Upon seeing Wild's performance, Slade is obviously envious of him and attracted to him. Inspired, Slade takes his music to the next level.  Velvet Goldmine depicts the theme of the permanence of art. Todd Haynes shows that this music — and this movie — is much more than disposable pop culture, but rather akin to the works of Oscar Wilde and the movie Citizen Kane, both which he references throughout, and that art is kept alive through the appreciation of it by the audience. 
Bound
While this film is best known for being "that lesbian gangster movie", it is far better than that tag might suggest; it is exciting, stylish, and occasionally horrifying. Caesar is a money launderer for the Chicago mob and Violet is his girlfriend who has been with him for the last five years. Caesar has no idea that the arrival of female painter/plumber (and ex con) Corky to work in the neighbouring apartment will have such a dramatic effect on his life. Violet, however, notices Corky immediately and soon sets about seducing her by asking for help retrieving an earring that she has "accidentally" dropped down the sink. Even when Caesar returns home and sees her looking somewhat dishevelled he regains his calm when he sees that the other person present is a woman and thus not a threat to him.  Violet and Corky hatch a plan to steal Caesar’s money, trying to figure out how they can take the money and make Caesar think it was stolen by Jonnie. Of course the scheme doesn't go according to plan, when instead of running, Caesar decides to confront Jonnie about the theft. Unlike a lot of thrillers this contains no exciting stunts or exotic locations. In fact, it is set almost entirely in Caesar's apartment and the one next door. Rather than limit the film, though, it provides a sense of claustrophobia so that we can see why Violet wants out. The acting is excellent throughout and the direction is stylish without being overly so. Sexy, violent, and brutal, Bound is directed by The Wachowski Brothers, just a few years before they'd set the world on fire with The Matrix.
 The Birdcage
A gay couple (Robin Williams, Nathan Lane) have to play it straight when their son (Dan Futterman) wants to marry a girl (Calista Flockheart) who has ultra-right-wing parents (Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest). The Birdcage is a virtual word by word remake of a very funny 1978 French movie called La Cage Aux Folles. The French film was hilarious and (in its time) daring. Some of its views are dated, but not offensive. The Birdcage follows the original script VERY closely and adds its fair share of funny lines. Of course as a studio film from the 1990s it does throw many gay stereotypes at its audience: there's the lisping, queeny maid (Hank Azaria), the EXTREMELY effeminate man (Nathan Lane), and his mincing, swishy partner (Robin Williams). The film encourages you to laugh at their mannerisms again and again. It can sometimes be a little too much, but given that it's a product of the 1990s, it is understandably a little behind today's times. That doesn't stop it from being an LGBT classic that many from the community have adored for a few decades. Williams is a bit too swishy but, basically, underplays nicely. Lane is the reason to watch this playing a WAY over-the-top and very loud prima donna. However, Hackman and Wiest are a scream as the couple, and Christine Baranski shows up and brightens up the movie. The film is very colorful and there's plenty of buff guys and gals wearing next to nothing to get your attention. It's kitsch, but kitsch done right with quite a few laugh-out-loud moments that do stand the test of time.
Stranger by the Lake
The Certain Regard directing award in Cannes went to this movie, which is usually a sign of something innovative. I failed to do my research before going to the theatre for this one, so let me warn you. There is a lot of very graphic man-on-man sex, but as long as it is not a total surprise for you, the sex scenes actually add to a certain raw suspense. Just do not watch it with any squeamish homophobes. The plot is very simple: Franck, a young man looking for love, finds lust on a summer beach in Michel, a man who — Franck witnesses — has just drowned his lover. It would not be completely true to say that fear was the turn-on, and yet, Franck (played by Pierre Deladonchamps, who won the Cesar for most promising actor) continues to see Michel. At 97 minutes, it is a short movie that nevertheless feels like it takes its time to unfold, and I, for one, went from being slightly bored to being on the edge of my seat scared as hell. The last several minutes I must have been holding my breath too, because I distinctly remember breathing out as the credits started rolling. If you are looking for an uncomplicated thriller, and are not afraid of gay pornography, see it.
Longtime Companion
Longtime Companion was perhaps one of the very first movies to put a face, heart, and soul to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS at a time when movie makers, as well as society as a whole, ran away as fast as they could from not only the disease itself, but also those that had it. For that alone it should be congratulated and celebrated. Essentially, Longtime Companion is the story of how life takes a sudden change for a group of gay friends from the very onset of the whole HIV/AIDS crisis in 1981. Back then The New York Times carried an article that mentioned an outbreak of a "rare cancer" in the gay community, often termed "gay cancer", which was tragedy in itself, as it shielded the actual method of transmission of the illness that was spreading with alarming speed.
The movie divides itself in chapters, focusing on the appearance of the infection and how it crept its way into social consciousness as a fearsome, four letter word we now acknowledge as AIDS. We're introduced to a variety of characters, all realistic in nature, and confront their issues that are commonplace. Friendships are formed, love is exchanged, and all the while bonds are tested as this "thing", this invisible character, becomes almost omnipresent in every sense of the word. A very grim, yet real scene early in the film is one that can't be denied: at a hospital visit, one character (played by Campbell Scott) immediately washes his hands in restrained disgust after greeting a sick friend (Dermot Mulroney) because of the fear of contagion. Counterpointed is a much later, extremely emotional scene involving Bruce Davidson as he says goodbye to his lover and allows him to "let go". It's two sides of the coin, but Norman René creates a haunting experience that remains indelible to anyone who has been in those situations. It's one of the finest films about gay men ever done, and it's a must for anyone getting into queer cinema.

7 Great Docs of 2015


Just as fiction has been expanding the narrative barriers and experimentations this decade, so has non-Fiction – maybe even more so. With the advancement of social media comes a generation of people with the need to capture each and every key milestone of their lives on their phone or tablet or device. As such, the wealth of first-hand material we will be getting in the years to come will no doubt facilitate and advance the way documentaries can tell a story and shape their narratives. Everyone at the moment is working on their own little documentary of their lives, many without even realizing it, and the wealth of media that one person from this generation can amass in a lifetime will be very much part of the trajectory that fiction and non-fiction films will get into in the next 30-40 years. This is why a documentary like "Amy" or a movie like "Tangerine" – shot on an iphone – might just represent the most ground-breaking film events of the year. They will no doubt inspire many to follow in their footsteps. The following seven 2015 docs are one of many examples of the extraordinary year in non-fiction cinema.


The Look of Silence
“The Look of Silence” is Joshua Oppenheimer’s sequel to “The Act of Killing,” and he once again addresses the Indonesian genocide of the mid-1960s that killed millions. If the first film dealt with the perpetrators this one is about the victims, as a man who lost his brother in the killings tries to track down the perpetrators through research and in-your-face interviews. The truth isn’t easy and a final confrontation had me almost looking away, but the interviews are the highlights as they bring back a past that most of the perpetrators are in denial about. If there is a more important, contemplative, and meditative film about human nature this year, I sadly haven’t seen it. This isn’t an easy watch, but it’s an essential one. It represents one of the reasons I hope we all go to the movies — to face hard truths and cold facts that might otherwise be forgotten. Oppenheimer is quickly becoming a world-class filmmaker with these important films and the potential significance they bring to society is almost beyond words. The Indonesian genocide that took place in the 60's is such a layered, sprawlingly controversial part of history  that these two films will no doubt be seen as historical documents for the years to come.


Amy

“Amy” is virtually the first of its kind, a tragic examination of the late singer’s life, composed entirely of footage shot by Amy and her friends and directed and assembled with immeasurable passion by Asif Kapadia. The late 27-year-old singer/songwriter was an unmatched talent but tormented by the most torturous inner demons imaginable. This compulsively watchable film exemplifies the next evolution in documentary, one in which each key milestone of a life is recorded with phone or camcorder by the subject herself, and then this wealth of first-hand material is shaped by a talented director into a touching portrait. Kapadia doesn’t show talking heads as they’re being interviewed; instead he lets us listen to the interviewee while Amy’s personal footage plays in counterpoint onscreen. Don’t be surprised if we get more of these kind of documentaries in the years to come, as we seem to be part of a generation that wants everything recorded and instantly mementoed. In fact, two other films on this list have used the same approach. "Amy" is quite simply the best of the three and a serious Oscar contender for Best Documentary.

Heart of a Dog
Heart of a Dog is Laurie Anderson's ode to life, which to tell you the truth results in a much more absorbed and pondered contemplation than most film-makers would care to deliver. Anderson is the definiton of an artist, always pushing boundaries and always looking for different ways of expression. Here she uses all kinds of modern media to create something wholly original: a meditation on life and death that is meant to relax and open up your thoughts. The project started out as memories and thoughts about her rat terrier Lola Bell and her mother, both of which passed away rather recently. Then her husband, the rock musician Lou Reed, died as well- which seemed to have pushed Anderson further down the spiritual path of healing, which then explains why the topic of death seems a very natural one for, not only her, but the film she decides to make. This hard-to-describe, almost unexplainable film also needed the soothing sound of Anderson's very soft singsong voice to narrate this tremendous achievement. Her narration is so important to the surroundings that the film would quite simply just not work if she hadn't lent her voice to it. 
In Jackson Heights
Frederick Wiseman is a national treasure, a non-fiction filmmaker that deserves to be considered among the greatest documentary filmmakers of all-time. "Jackson Heights"  -his 43rd film- explores the fascinating story of Jackson Heights located in Queens, New York City - one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in the United States and the world. Given the current climate and the backlash happening in this country over the Syrian refugees, a film such as this one is a much needed wake up call. In Jackson Heights there are immigrants from every country in South America, Mexico, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and China.  The film mentions the stunning fact that more than 167 languages are spoken in this crowdedly diverse sector of New York. Some are illegal, some aren't, but all try to integrate into american society by any which way possible. It's through this ethnic diversity that we as viewers watch in amazement at a fascinating stronghold of American culture. The issues raised are important and relevant : assimilation, integration, immigration and cultural and religious differences figure prominently into the picture that Wiseman tries to paint. It's not only a fascinating film, but also one of his very best.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Alex Gibney's tough inspection of Scientology might be the most effective horror movie of the year.  Documenting the inner-working of the Church of Scientology, "Going Clear" is the definitive look at the history and rise of an organization from a cult to new religious movement. It documents its belief system, the role of celebrities who are part of it, and its long- standing allegations of psychological abuse & exploitation that occur within the church. Gibney uses archive footages & interviews from former Scientologists who describe their very own horrific experiences when they were part of the religion to uncover the disturbing secrets of this new religion that still remains shrouded in mystery. What struck me the most though is what the movie says about the absurdity & dangers of blind faith by illustrating easily people can be manipulated as a solution to all their problems.  There will be those that will mention the film as being a very one-sided affair, but the data and evidence Gibny gives the viewers is more than enough to put a clear and concise argument against Scientology at the table. It will be interesting to see if Gibney's impeccable direction and cleverly told expose will lead to a Best Documentary nomination come Oscar night, protesters be damned.
Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck
Director Brett Morgen, who gave us "The Kid Stays in the Picture" back in 2002 gave us this fascinating dissection of Kurt Cobain. If a theme kept popping up in non-fiction films about deceased artists this year it was the word "Intimate", which perfectly explains Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck hook. It's a vivid and detailed account of the Nirvana lead singer's life, rise, demise, and untimely death.  Morgen compiles most of his film with details from Kurt's notebooks, drawings, audio recordings and self-made video footage. It's a fascinating -warts and all- depiction of a complicated, misunderstood musical legend that went haywire when fame came knocking at his door. The part of the movie that most people will be talking about -understandably so- is when we see home video footage of Cobain and Courtney Love, most of the time, strung out on heroin, nicotine, and alcohol. This is all going on even while Love is pregnant with their child, Frances. This is where the intimacy really takes on a new life; 
At one point Kurt proclaims he'd make himself miserable to make her happy and even "abort Christ for her". It's a chilling moment that only gets enhanced when Morgen interviews Courtney Love and gets her side of the story. No matter who you believe, it's impossible to leave "Montage of Heck" unshaken by what you've witnessed. 
Listen to Me, Marlon
Just like the above mentioned docs about Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain, the subject of "Listen to Me, Marlon" was an enigmatic cultural figure that seemed to defy description.  
You'll get numerous accounts about how beautiful, compassionate, difficult, weird, crazy, tragic, bizarre, provocative, secret, shy, he was. These are all contradictory ways to describe him in his own right, but maybe they were all true and THAT is what might make him the most fascinating Hollywood figure to come along, maybe ever. Brando also had the knack for personally audio recording a lot of himself, a sort of self-therapy that becomes god-sent and effectively used in"Listen to Me, Marlon". Brando as he spoke into a tape recorder for many years, whether it was preparing for a role (as we hear for Apocalypse Now and Last Tango in Paris), self-hypnosis (he had to meditate a lot one can see), and just stuff to leave behind for his kids. Riley found close to 198 hours of Brando mumblings on recording. He's on record here of saying things that -as mentioned before- might contradict one another, but they are such fascinating, thought provoking ruminations that you just listen in awe at a legend having a go with himself. 

2015



It Follows
Ex-Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
Inside Out
Amy
Tangerine
Straight Outta Compton
Victoria
Carol
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Son of Saul
The Revenant
The Hateful Eight



Mustang
Anomalisa
Joy
Creed
Crimson Peak
99 Homes
Predestination
Mommy
Infinitely Polar Bear
Grandma
The Second Mother
Irrational Man
Room
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Steve Jobs
Brooklyn
Wild Tales
Sicario
'71
The Gift
While We're Young
Mississippi Grind
The Walk
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Me, Earl and The Dying Girl



Love and Mercy
Eden
The Intern
Burnt
James White
The Night Before
The Big Short
Spotlight
Beasts of No Nation
Bridge of Spies
The Martian
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Cop Car
The End of the Tour
Mission: Imposssible - Rogue Nation
Run All Night
Trainwreck



Sisters
Where to Invade Next
Daddy's Home
45 Years
The Danish Girl
Entertainment
Spectre
Our Brand Is Crisis
Taxi
Freeheld
Pawn Sacrifice
Black Mass
Time out of Mind
Tom at the Farm
Ricki and the Flash
Dope
Spy
Kingsman
Paddington



Magic Mike XXL
Clouds of Sils Maria
Pitch Perfect 2
Furious 7
Blackhat
The Cobbler

Roger Deakins' talent and Oscar


Roger Deakins. A legendary cinematographer that has NEVER won an Oscar, despite being nominated 12 times. Absurd. Blasphemous. He's eyeing a 13th nomination with Sicario, a visceral and intense movie from Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. A lot of the film’s brilliance has to do with the cinematography that Roger Deakins brings to the table. This is Deakins’ second collaboration with Villeneuve – they make a great duo – and the film is almost as much a showcase for Villeneueve as it is for the famed cinematographer. Villeneuve seems to be giving carte blanche to Deakins with every movie, which isn’t a bad idea, and the two complement each other to great degrees. Villeneuve told me earlier this year “I always profoundly felt Roger wanted to make the movie. One thing I adore about Roger is his discipline and his rigor. He exudes so much respect from the cast and crew. When I started editing the movie I was just floored by what he had done."

"The Wallpapered Hallway" Barton Fink, 1991



Barton Fink, a hypnotic satire on Hollywood, had Deakins working with the Coens for the first time. It builds up a world of dread which converses with every wallpapered hallway and tiny room. The above shot is just one of many hallway scenes that takes your breath away. Deakins focuses a lot of his time on the hallway to build up every claustrophobic minute and takes us into the psyche and feel of John Turturro's Hollywood scribe. Time will never erase the image of a hell-sent John Goodman unleashing fiery hell and brimstone around the flame drenched hallway.

"The hallway shots were really tricky to do," said Deakins, principally because the corridor had to go up in flames during the production. "We built the hallway in Long Beach somewhere, and we basically built two, because we were going to burn one! That one was rigged with gas, recessed in the walls, and all the wallpaper was perforated so the gas would come through it. It was quite interesting, and it worked really well, actually." Deakins to Vulture

"The Chalkboard Equation" A Serious Man, 2009


This underrated Coen's masterpiece is their oddly affecting take on the story of Job. The whole movie is an equation, encompassing a man's misery and journey in figuring out exactly why he has been cursed by such terrible luck and sorrow. The equation is of course too otherworldly to figure out, if it even exists, as shown by this striking frame in which Larry -the guilt-ridden Minnesota professor- tries to find the meaning of life through a never ending equation. The whole point is that there is no point and this striking image has even more impact once you figure that out for yourself.

"There was a tweenie bouncing off unbleached muslin for the first shot. The second shot is lit by the practical and some softened HMI window light and the third shot is also lit by HMI window light. For both I was using 4K HMIs projected through light grid diffusion and I may have had a 1/4 grid to double diffuse the light as well. That I can't remember. There was no space for a balloon in that lecture hall. We taped white cloth to the ceiling and, using existing par lights for fixings, we bounced Red Heads off the ceiling. It could well have been Nook lights but the same idea. I rarely use balloons. The class rooms were lit with white florescent lights that we rigged for the purpose. There was a little bounce coming through the windows, which was slightly cooler than the florescent lights. I believe I also had a couple of 800 Joker HMIs bouncing off the ceiling in the corner of the room behind the camera." Roger Deakins


"The Great Escape" O Brother Where Art Thou?, 2000

O Brother, Where Art Thou? -another Coens collaboration- is a visually aesthetic film that was heavily edited and altered in post-production using digital technology. In fact it's one of the very first films to have ever gone through that process.  It has a beautiful, rustic style that was developed after the footage was shot on film and then transferred to digital (and then re-transferred back to film). The result is an orgy of beautiful colors that pop off the screen and welcome us into the 21st century through the eyes of 3 jail broken, outrageous convicts in the 1930's deep south.

"We were shooting in Mississippi in mid-summer and the Coens and I wanted a dry, dusty look but obviously, it was a very lush environment. We also wanted a kind of feeling of a painted postcard, and we experimented for quite a long time. Digital finishing was starting, people had been using digital technology to do effects work and we thought, "Why not try and do the whole film like that?" We made some tests and figured that by the time we finished shooting and were in post-production that the technology would be advanced enough that we could do it. It was a bit of a struggle, but that's what we did." Thompson on Hollywood

"The Interrogation" The Man Who Wasn't There, 2001


When Roger Deakins shoots in Black and White you know it's going to be a total and utter visual feast. The Man Who Wasn't there is an underrated beauty from the Coens and encompasses every single, possible film noir trope, but twists it around and becomes a stamped on Coen-esque visionary nightmare. Deakins uses the overtly stylish surroundings to sheer perfection using every possible smoke-filmed frame to recall the good old days when Black and White photography in Hollywood films was an art in itself. Back in those times cinematographers tried to one up each other with the was they could use black and white. Deakins proves he could have held his own if he working at that time.

"We shot the Barber's shop on the backlot at Paramount. I had a truss above the door outside the set and bounced a row of lights on this truss onto reflectors held back 15 or 20 feet from the window. It wasn’t so much the photographic look of the film they were relating to than it was the sense of the small California town and the atmosphere of the town" Roger Deakins

 "We talked about it and it was like – it wasn't 'doing noir.' We wanted to do a modern film but it just happened to be this. We weren't trying to copy a film noir or anything. If it looks film noir it's just because I was playing with the lighting and what felt right at that moment. But for 'The Man Who Wasn't There,' I didn't have references or anything. It was nothing like saying, 'Oh, I'm going to do this kind of scene that we saw in 'Citizen Kane' or 'Sunset Boulevard.' It wasn't about that. I just approached it in the way I would any film, thinking, 'What should this scene feel like,' you know?" Hitfix, Incontention

"Sunset" The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007


This lost classic from 2007 is one of the last features Deakins shot on film, ever since then he has made the full transition to digital film. It's hard to pick just one image from Andrew Dominik's masterpiece as it is one of the most beautifully photographed movies of the 21st century, the train station shadow/smoke scene is one other iconic moment that comes to mind, but for my money nothing beats this gorgeous frame in which Brad Pitt's Jesse James look over the sunset as he contemplates his next move. It's an eerie, evocative shot that once again shows just how great Deakins can shoot the first sunrise of the day (cue Sicario for another great moment of the sunset)

"I couldn't actually do what I wanted to do photochemically,. "I know some movies look digital but it's kind of the way they're shot and the technology and processing that's being used on them. But I don't think the average person would notice it ... and it just had a better sense of the changing times and the idea that this world was dying," he says. "And in a way, that's what Jesse James knew. It was a much more kind of reflective and thoughtful"  Hitfix, Incontention

"Eve and WALL-E" WALL-E, 2008


Director Andrew Stanton and his WALL•E team kept asking and referring to Deakins for his vision on how the first act of the film could feel live-action. Of course going to Deakins for advice meant that the animators were looking for ways in manipulating the light. His imprint on the films dialogue free first 20 minutes is there, the visual aesthetic takes your breath away as the use of different colours and schemes proves just how powerfully visual an animated can be.

 "The real world, the natural world that we live in just isn't as well-lit as your typical animated world is. There are shadows here. Areas in half-light over there. And if you can take that into account as you're planning your camera movements on a CG production, make those sorts of necessary adjustments to light levels as you're composing your shots, you'll then wind up with scenes that look much more naturalistic when they're up there on the big screen." And while Deakins is quick to play down whatever small role he played in WALL•E's eventual enormous box office success "Seriously. I only consulted on a few shots for the first 20 minutes of that film," Huffington Post


"The Japanese Jellyfish" Skyfall, 2012


Skyfall is by far the best shot Bond film. Its images simmer and make the film such a cinematic, enticing treat to behold. No wonder many have called Skyfall the greatest of James Bond movies. Send Deakins to shoot a movie in Japan and you'll end up with one hell of a finished prodyuct. The imagery that stuck with me the most was that of the Shanghai office interior where James Bond intercepts Patrice, a hired assassin that ruthlessly goes after 007. Their fight, shot in a silhouette with a distinctive neon blue signage, features a prominent jellyfish floating in the background

"We were coming out of the monochromatic gray of England, so we wanted to arrive in Shanghai with a bang—a lot of color and movement of light. Gradually we came to the idea of making everything glass, so the whole thing was this big box of magical reflections. We built a model to see how the reflections would work and so we could position the big billboards and have the assassin firing at the hotel room in the right position. Then we built the set on the soundstage and spent a number of weeks rigging it, positioning every light. The jellyfish originally were just a stand-in image, but it was such a good choice, it stayed. We needed images for the monitor, and the art department found this footage of jellyfish floating through the frame,”

“When it came time to discuss what we really wanted to put on those screens, Sam and I looked at each other and said, ‘Well, why don’t we just leave it as jellyfish?’ It looked interesting, and it was a really deep blue, and we wanted this whole Shanghai section to feel quite cold. So that’s how the jellyfish got in the film — they were just stand-ins, really!” Shot Significance: “The calming, poetic nature of the jellyfish imagery builds the tension of the scene. If the imagery had been frenetic, like what you usually see on billboards, we wouldn’t have been able to build that sort of menace. And that’s what we were after: the ultimate cat-and-mouse scene.” Roger Deakins

"Freedom" The Shawshank Redemption, 1994




Deakins earned his first Oscar nomination for shooting The Shawshank Redemption. A film which started off as a decently reviewed prison drama and has turned into a stone cold classic. That famous shot of Andy escaping from the prison, arms outstretched as the rain pours down on him? You know, the moment so powerful that it was repurposed on the poster? Yeah, that wasn't originally part of the plan. Or at least what Deakins says,

"It was a difficult schedule on that film, and we had quite a lot of night work scheduled for when Tim's character escapes from the jail: He was going to run across the length of the field and catch a train that was going by the prison,"  "There was a lot of stuff planned, and schedule-wise, we just couldn't do that. So this shot, with Andy standing there in the rain, had to be this iconic shot that signified the end of the sequence ... because we couldn't afford to shoot the rest of it, basically!" The film came out in 1994, the same year another Tim Robbins–toplined, Deakins-shot movie with a funny name debuted. "One of my neighbors came up to me the other day and said, 'You know, I really like Shawshank, but one of my favorite films is The Hudsucker Proxy!'" laughed Deakins, who noted another similarity between the Coen brothers comedy and Shawshank: "When The Hudsucker Proxy came out, hardly anybody saw it. It was quite a blow for the boys and me, because we'd put so much into that film, and I thought it was really good! But when Shawshank was released, too, it made nothing theatrically; then, when it had a video release, suddenly it was on the charts for a year. It's all very odd." Roger Deakins


"Night to Dawn" No Country For Old Men, 2007


This bravura No Country scene, which goes from night to dawn as Josh Brolin is pursued by criminals, has an incredible use of light throughout, add in one very ardent pit bull and you've got a night of terror for our hero. In order to capture the dawn shots, Deakins shot some in the morning and some at magic hour, though he confessed that he can't tell which came when.

"I think that was one of the most difficult sequences I've ever done, really, I'm not 100 percent happy with it, but I'm not 100 percent happy with anything, really. It was really hard to do, given our budget and schedule." We were filming in New Mexico, and the weather is so different in the mornings and the evenings. Nobody really notices it, but it's obvious to me that the clouds build up during the day and you've got a lot of them in the evening shots, while the morning shots are crystal clear. There are quite a few of those mismatches." Roger Deakins


"Ready for War" Sicario, 2015



It seems like Deakins has taken a real liking to Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. They collaborated together on Prisoners, Sicario and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel. Sicario is as much Deakins' film as it is Villeneuve's. Following FBI agent Emily Blunt, the film has Deakins returning to the similar landscapes and as those from “No Country For Old Men". These are clean, saturated colors and might just be Deakins' best digital work to date. The shots of a danger-filled Mexico City and tempty, isolated deserts brings out the best in Deakins' talent. However, we can't ever shake off the finale in which Villeneuve and Deakins follow their soldiers into the field of battle as the sunset looms over their silhouetted bodies.

"You always run tests for something, but we didn’t do that many tests on Sicario. It was mainly testing the night vision system and the FLIR (thermal imaging) camera, but there weren’t too many other things we tested. I rarely work with more than one camera. Even on Skyfall, it was mostly a one-camera show. It’s a different approach to filmmaking. [Sicario director Denis Villeneuve] is quite decisive about what shot he wants tobe on for what part of the action. So it’s not a matter of getting a load of cameras out and just getting coverage. To me, that’s not filmmaking. Denis has a very precise way of approaching things. He likes working single camera and so do I." Roger Deakins

"One of the most notable influences on our choices of camera placement, framing and lighting was the style of Jean-Pierre Melville. He’s able to attain a sort of simple yet stylish realism… we tried to stick with that spirit in filming Sicario, with an economy of means that in English we refer to with the expression ‘less is more" IndieWire

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