A cinematographer has one of the roughest jobs in Hollywood - responsible for conveying the director's vision through the camerawork and visuals, they have little to no say in the story or content itself. While cinema is foremost a visual medium, all the pretty shots in the world cannot salvage a bad story or characters. But they certainly can make an awful film more bearable to watch. Great movies usually look great - but bad movies can look great, too. The following is a list of truly awful or mediocre films that are redeemable in at least one aspect: the cinematography. And because cinematographers are in charge of the entire visual aesthetic, I will also be mentioning some films that feature digitally enhanced cinematography, simply because you cannot deny a beautiful image, however it's rendered... Please note that this article may contain spoilersfor the movies mentioned within.
Honorable Mention: The New World
Terrence Malick is a tough man to judge - his films are so uniquely his own they outright defy any objective assessment of whether they are "good" or "bad." In short, if you like films that focus on plot and characters, Terrence Malick's ponderous Pocahontas-esque epic is a "bad" film - but not for lack of visual grandeur. In this film, Malick finds the perfect collaborator in Emmanuel Lubeski, a man currently favoured to win Best Cinematography at the Oscars for his work on Gravity. Lubeski creates beautiful images with the untamed landscape of Northern America, an effortlessly mythic and naturalistic style that would later return in Malick's own Tree of Life. Lubeski maintains this aesthetic through scenes of quiet contemplation and brutal violence both, and they mesh together seamlessly. Best Shot: As Pocahontas lies on her deathbed, Lubeski pulls his camera back to view the whole scene through a mirror on the wall. This striking image perfectly frames the mythic historical significance of the character.
Self-evidently a man who writes for the Internet, Robert also writes films, plays, teleplays, and short stories when he's not working on a movie set somewhere. He lives somewhere behind the Hollywood sign.