Cinema Bros’ Top 35 Shots of 2017

Cinematography is, in many ways, the most important aspect of the film. As the pen (or computer now I suppose) is to the writer or the brush is to the painter, so is the camera to the filmmaker. Cinematography is the language of cinema. Yes, the acting, costumes, set, sound and writing are also important, but choosing what to show the audience (or what not to) and how to show them is what makes movies, movies.

So, in order to recognize the great work cinematographers did last year, we have compiled our Top 35 Shots of 2017:

** We recommend you turn your screen brightness up. If you would like to view larger versions of the images, simply click/tap them.**

Super Dark Times

Director of Photography: Eli Born

By Jacob

This shot from Super Dark Times is every kid’s dream. Slicing things cleanly in half with very sharp objects should probably be a national pastime, right next to blowing stuff up on the 4th of July. It starts as harmless fun for these friends with a katana, but as the title might suggest things get super dark, super fast. Eli Born’s camerawork in this film is some of the most interesting stuff I saw from any film in 2017, and I’m actually somewhat terrified to see what he could do with a bigger budget. Super Dark Times is hauntingly beautiful to look at, and this katana slow-mo shot is only the beginning…trust me.

Atomic Blonde

Director of Photography: Jonathan Sela

By Josiah

Yahoo! Movies named this scene the best American fight scene of all time. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it definitely is toward the top. Coming from a crew that worked on John Wick, it makes sense that we’d get a scene like this. Like the rest of the action in Atomic Blonde, this scene is brutal as hell. For nearly ten minutes and pretty much one shot (Though it was definitely multiple shots stitched together through the magic of CGI), Charlize Theron gets the ever-living shit beat out of her and kicks some serious ass of her own. The camera work isn’t overly impressive, but it does exactly what it needs to do which is let the performers bring the brutality. The audacity to attempt this is crazy. To actually pull it off is deserving of recognition.

Watch the full shot here

Lady Macbeth

Director of Photography: Ari Wegner

By Jacob

I don’t know how many total shots comprise Lady Macbeth, but the number is likely far lower than I could even guess. There is a sickening and horrific stillness to the film that I’ve not seen before. This shot encapsulates this unflinching eye perfectly. Lady Katherine does a lot of sitting. And while she sits, she thinks. These moments seem harmless, but they give way to scenes that make you beg for them to end. When you want the camera to cut away, when you desperately want the scenery to change, it’s as if the cinematographer says “no.” Lady Macbeth is a slow-burn thriller dressed up as a period-piece drama. You’ve been warned, so proceed with caution.


Director of Photography: Chung-hoon Chung

 By Sam

This may be one of the most surprising and unsettling shots in all of It. It is a perfect jump scare as we suddenly see terrifying visage of Pennywise, larger than we’ve seen him before, burst from the projector screen. What makes it extremely effective is the use of the projector clicks to darken the screen periodically and give us a sense of dread of what might pop up next. What does pop up is entirely unexpected. How could anyone have expected a giant clown head. It is ridiculous and almost comedic upon further viewings. But the balance between comedy and horror is what makes It an incredibly entertaining film.

The Bad Batch

Director of Photography: Lyle Vincent

By Josiah

There are two reasons Blake Shelton should never have been named Sexiest Man Alive last year: The shot of Jason Momoa as Aquaman rising out of the water in Justice League and the entirety of The Bad Batch, though this shot in particular. There are so many incredible shots from The Bad Batch because director Ana Lily Amirpour and cinematographer Lyle Vincent have incredible eyes for visual storytelling. I could have gone with many others, but this one just seemed right. It is our first introduction to The Miami Man and it is also one of the first moments in the film that Amirpour signals that it is ok to laugh a little. The shot comes in the middle of showing the bro culture of the cannibal camp with a bunch of jacked people working out. The Miami Man stands apart though, looking off into the distance with his sweet ass shades and drinking a refreshing can of Jizzy Fizz. It says so much about the character and it is just a great, funny shot.

John Wick: Chapter 2

Director of Photography: Dan Laustsen

By Jacob

John Wick: Chapter 2 is my most beloved film of 2017. It might be one of my most beloved films of the last decade, maybe even of all time. It is so ridiculous, so asinine, so off-the-wall insane that it works absolutely and completely to perfection. From Keanu Reeves’ performance to the cartoonish villains to the filmmakers saying “Sure, let’s film an action sequence in a room full of mirrors!” this film has it all and then some. I picked this mirror trick shot because, well, there are 57 other shots I could have picked and this was the one I saw the most. John Wick, Baba Yaga, walks through some sliding glass mirror doors to off his umpteenth baddie of the film. Watch out, he might be coming for you next.  


Director of Photography: John Mathieson

By Sam

Up until this point in Logan we had not seen Laura’s true potential or her gruesome abilities. This is her last innocent moment before she slaughters the men on the TV screen she is looking at. It is a somewhat morbidly funny scene once you have seen the full context. The scene originally seems like a child eating cereal and watching TV, almost like a Saturday morning cartoon binge from back in the day. In no way would the normal viewer expect her to then murder a group of men with hand claws.  Dafne Keen is great in this scene as she is in the rest of this phenomenal film.


Hypocrisy & Imperialism in Scorsese’s “Silence”

By Alex Doe

“I pray but I am lost. Am I just praying to silence?”

These are the words uttered by father Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit Priest (Andrew Garfield) who is sworn to find and bring back his mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) from a 1640, anti-Christian Japan. Rodrigues, alongside his fellow missionary, Father Garupe (Adam Driver) are director Martin Scorsese’s two soldiers for Christendom in a country which is described by its leaders as a “swamp” in which Christianity cannot grow. The task is large, if not impossible, in a great story guided by the direction of man that most relates to New York Mob violence, Robert Deniro, and Wall Street Tycoons addicted to Quaaludes. Nonetheless, Scorsese notably delivers this story in a dramatic, cinematic fashion that articulately portrays a piece of a historic persecution with which most are unfamiliar . Silence is a tale of what one undergoes when holding a zealous belief in a land where that is punishable by death, and – in the case of Rodrigues – cause another to suffer the most egregious torture. As a counterpoint, the film also lays out themes of hypocrisy in religion, as well as the idea of Imperialism.

While the film itself lays its foundation on the two missionaries rescuing their fellow friar, it is also a window into 17th century Japan. During this period Japan was formally a feudal administrative system (Danka Seido) which required its citizens to be affiliated with a particular Buddhist temple. This in turn helped to monitor and detect minority devoted Christians who were seen as threat to the traditional Japanese state. In Silence, the state is represented by the ruthless Inquisitor who exposes fervent believers by subjecting them to a test of apostasy. The task is a simple – “only a formality” – to lay one’s foot on a tablet with Christ’s impression. The penalty for loyalty however, is torture followed slowly by death.

Scorsese is no stranger to violence. Many of his films are built around it. Unflinchingly graphic and realistic violence, in fact. Believers lashed to crosses while being plastered by rising tides or being wrapped in straw mats and burned alive, or possibly – for the lucky – a quick beheading by a sharpened Katana. These are the threats that are forced upon the Christian minority.

While Scorsese accurately portrays the obedience, as well as the fear, of the Christian peasant from the state, he also captures the fear and doubts of the shepherds of the sheep. A major theme of Silence is in fact right in the title: the silence of god and the absence of justice. Why does God subject his followers to utter pain, embarrassment, and suffering? These are the questions Rodrigues asks as he sees his fellow man perish. Rodrigues is time and time again called to apostatize to cease the torture of many prisoners. A moral dilemma arises out of the film. Is it worth the renunciation of faith, the scare of hellfire, to end the suffering of others? On the other hand, other hypocrisy is easily seen by the “Buddhist” inquisition as they torture and kill their Christian prisoners. A major precept that is part of the Buddhist tradition is the abstention from violence and actions that cause the suffering of living beings. As the movie shows the ideologies of religions and governments rarely add up in the real world actions of their followers.

Maneuvering into another theme that also relates to government is Scorsese’s look at imperialism. Christianity was unarguably a catalyst for the European Renaissance, with Rodrigues and Garupe embodying western European Christianity in its quest to evangelize every living soul. The Japanese feudal system, however, was in complete contradiction to this idea, made very clear by a story told by the Inquisitor involving 4 concubines (Portugal, Holland, England, and France) and a King (Japan) who found that it was in his best interest to let the women go and find peace by himself. Scorsese looks at this impasse very nicely. Japan wants its own identity, but at the price of the beliefs of its people. On the other hand, it is the drive of the Christian ministry which pushes the inquisition harder. Turning again to the moral dilemma that Silence gives us, a question is asked by father Ferreira. “Do you have the right, to make them suffer?” The film forces the viewer to ponder the question.

While Silence begs many questions, it also leaves the viewer with many emotions. While the film can be ambiguous at times, the story is nonetheless moving and powerful. Garfield and Driver deliver spectacular performances, the scenery is beautiful, and the story is mesmerizing. And the two larger themes of hypocrisy in religion and imperialism that are central to the film are important for the viewer to meditate on. I, myself, am still meditating on it.

Alex Doe is a friend of the podcast, musician, and fellow film fan.

CB Podcast Ep. 60 – Oscar Nominations Recap // “Silence” Review

“With the release of the 2017 Oscar nominations, the bros bring you their biggest snubs and surprises, plus plenty of interesting tidbits about the nominees. Then, the long-awaited film adaptation of Shusako Endo’s ‘Silence’ is finally out in theaters and the bros discuss whether Scorsese’s film lived up to the hype.”

Right Click and select “Save as…” to download.

Or choose your preferred listening app below.


Link Bank