Earlier this year, at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony, Ang Lee's sumptuous and evocative Life Of Pi walked away with not only the biggest award of the night for the director, it also picked up the gong for Best Cinematography, in a decision that shocked almost no-one. It was a beautifully executed film, making up for more than a little shallowness in substance with a dazzling style that will make it one of the most visually arresting movies of all time. While some movie goers are still happy to watch gimmick heavy horrors, or eye-gougingly bad comedies for the cheap thrills involved, normal audience members are now more invested in the visual execution of the films they want to see. Iron Man 3 was as impressive for its style and cinematography as it was for its barn-storming action set-pieces, and fans are now looking for films where every frame feels like it could be used for instant print posters, without the need for the rest of the film as a frame. So, which films this year have made the same kind of impact - which have dazzled and dazed, and left the biggest impacts on audiences? And which can we expect to see nominated for next year's Oscar for cinematography?
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
The film isn't out yet, but we saw it in Cannes, and though it's a fairly understated affair, it's pure Coens, including their intricate eye for perfect canvases and the kind of sets that are both completely believable as part of the film's universe, and utterly enchanting as an entity on their own. The film perfectly channels the folk spirit of its chosen era, and the soaked visuals are the ideal backdrop for the story of the sometimes failing singer song-writer.
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
From the beautiful opening sequence on a colourful alien planet, through to the finale battle above the streets of Earth between Spock and Benedict Cumberbatch's Khan, Jj Abrams' sequel was a visually stunning tour de force. Incorporating a lot of CGI probably won't help its efforts to win any cinematography awards, but there's got to be a good shout for a Special Effects nod.
3. Oz The Great And Powerful
Though it was a deeply flawed film, Sam Raimi's take on the wonderful world of Oz was still a stunning experience, with a rich universe that did the property a huge service and showed that the director still has an unrivalled imagination. Again, the CGI element complicates things, but as a portrait of another world, it's stunningly put together, and wholly immersive.
2. Man Of Steel
If Zack Snyder's intention with Man Of Steel was to make something simultaneously affirming and beautiful, he undoubtedly succeeded. Some viewers hated the po-faced realism, and the insistence of the narrative, but for me, it was a great experience that blew expectations clean away, and a major part of that was the wonderful world created by Snyder. He is a visually strong director at the best of times - which can get him in trouble, as with Sucker Punch - but the combination of his quest for realism, and his stylised approach to shooting made it one of the finest looking films of the year so far, quite easily.
1. After Earth
A controversial choice for the top, considering how much of a failure M Night Shyamalan's latest was, but there's no denying the impact that his visuals had. The film is beautiful, more like an art book of stills than a movie, and while that helped destroy the watching experience, Shyamalan should be commended for his art direction work and the world's he painted.