2006 best-ofs: best director, best cinematographer

Directors and cinematographers work hand in hand: “This is what I want it to look like,” says the former; “You got it,” says the latter, and pulls it off. A beautifully photographed film can be otherwise terrible, and a wonderfully directed film can be shot in a way that does not thrill — but when both crafts come together, it’s as good as movies get.
Best Director

1. Michel Gondry, The Science of Sleep: The sweet madness of its hero springs from Gondry’s assured control of just-about untamed romantic reveries.

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men: Cuaron’s down-and-dirty journalistic approach lends a desperate urgency to dystopic fantasy.

3. Martin Scorsese, The Departed: Whether he’s letting an immobile camera make love to DiCaprio’s mad fury or furiously chasing bad guys all over the streets of Boston, Scorsese rapid-injects visual power and passion.

4. Stephen Frears, The Queen: Frears’ subtle compare-and-contrast between the staid realm of the monarchy and the zippy, West Wing world of Downing Street becomes a metaphor for the shock of watching the past recede as the future barrels down on us.

5. Paul Greengrass, United 93: Without a shred of phony sentiment or an iota of cinematic embellishment, Greengrass focuses on the heroic tragedy of a terrible day and coaxes larger truths from it.

Best Cinematographer

1. Emmanuel Lubezki, Children of Men: As if he were shooting in a war zone, Lubezki makes every single-take shot count, running with accidents and welcoming surprises.

2. Barry Ackroyd, United 93: Ackroyd embraces the paradox of replicated reality, making the total artifice of cinematic re-creation look like there isn’t even a camera present.

3. Tom Stern, Letters from Iwo Jima: Stern’s beautiful washes of color, reminiscent of Asian painting, add a delicate undertone of pathos to abounding cultural ironies.

4. Eduardo Serra, Blood Diamond: In one of the more beautiful ugly films I’ve ever seen, Serra makes the dramatic landscapes of Africa look both lush and ravaged.

5. Steven Soderbergh, The Good German: A conscious decision to shoot in black and white in a world of super-hi-def Technicolor is always an audacious one, and Soderbergh’s sumptuous photography reminds us why it’s worth it.

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