Best Roger Deakins Movie - Featured - StudioBinder

Roger Deakins movies include Fargo, Skyfall, Sicario, No Country for Old Men, and recently he won the 2018 Academy Award in Cinematography for Blade Runner 2049

We watched every Roger Deakins movie to see which films you should watch so you can see the best of the best in cinematography.

"Deakinstructing" the cinematographer's duty

Roger Deakins Movies

15. A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man - Official Trailer

A Serious Man is much less extravagant than most Roger Deakins movies, but that’s just an opportunity for Deakins to show viewers just how great he is no matter the subject matter or budget. Roger Deakins movies aren’t defined by their opulence, but rather by the perfect connection from the narrative at hand to the visuals on screen.

IN CONCLUSION

A Serious Man

  • The title refers to Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics of Ambiguity. In her book, Beauvoir describes a serious man as someone "who avoids all questions of freedom and assumes himself not free."
  • Tomatometer: 89%
  • Watch Now

Roger Deakins Best Movies

14. Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar! - Official Trailer

The thing I love about this Roger Deakins movie is how it’s sort of an ode to the old film studios and how they used to operate. Because we get this visual tour of the backlot Deakins gets to show off his ability as a cinematographer across multiple styles from aquatic musicals, religious epics, and sophisticated melodramas.

IN CONCLUSION

HAIL, CAESAR!

  • The real Eddie Mannix died in 1963. Robert Taylor and James Stewart were among his pallbearers.
  • Tomatometer: 86%
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Roger Deakins Movies Ranked

13. Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken Official Trailer

Unbroken is the first Roger Deakins movie where he was able to collaborate with director Angelina Jolie. The film has some great imagery including aerial battles above the Pacific ocean, prison camps, and childhood in America during the 1920-30’s. 

IN CONCLUSION

UNBROKEN

  • Director Angelina Jolie and cinematographer Roger Deakins claim that one of their big influences making the movie was the Sidney Lumet movie, The Hill (1965).
  • Tomatometer: 51%
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Roger Deakins Movie List

12. True Grit (2010)

True Grit (2010) Trailer #1

True Grit is not only another Roger Deakins movies directed by the Coen Brothers, but it’s another remake of a previously successful film. This shows that Deakins isn’t afraid to revisit a film that has already been done. You could always go back and study the original True Grit (1969) and perhaps find some worthy lessons in the comparison.

IN CONCLUSION

TRUE GRIT

  • When La Boeuf first meets Mattie, he tells her that one of the aliases of Chaney is J. Todd Anderson, a frequent Coen Brothers storyboard artist.
  • Tomatometer: 96%
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Roger Deakins Films

11. Prisoners (2014)

Prisoners Official Trailer #1

Prisoners is the first Roger Deakins movie where he collaborated with director Denis Villeneuve. What makes the cinematography in Prisoners so great is the use of the elements and darkness of nighttime to build mood, tone, and to support the film’s narrative.

IN CONCLUSION

PRISONERS

  • Jake Gyllenhaal and Denis Villeneuve had such a great time doing Enemy (2013) that Villeneuve cast him for this movie without any audition.
  • Tomatometer: 80%
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Roger Deakins Best Films

10. Jarhead (2005)

Jarhead (2005) Official Trailer

Jarhead is similar to many Roger Deakins movies in that it’s a film that falls into a popular category of movies, but takes a much more thoughtful approach. Many viewers who came to see Jarhead thought they were getting a story similar to Black Hawk Down, but instead found themselves either pleasantly surprised, or super disappointed.

IN CONCLUSION

JARHEAD

  • The Marines watch Apocalypse Now (1979), which was edited by Jarhead editor Walter Murch.
  • Tomatometer: 61%
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Roger Deakins Films List

9. Fargo (1996)

Fargo Official Trailer #1

Fargo is one of those Roger Deakins movies that really makes the setting a character. This entire film feels very cold in the same way No Country for Old Men feels boiling hot. It’s also a great example of how dramatic cinematography can be macabre and downright funny.

IN CONCLUSION

FARGO

  • The movie is called Fargo because the Coens thought it was a better title than Brainerd.
  • Tomatometer: 93%
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Roger Deakins Films Ranked

8. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Official Trailer #1

The Shawshank Redemption is at the top of IMDB as the greatest film of all time, and I think it is safe to say Roger Deakins is a big part of that title. There are so many great shots in this film, and oftentimes the choices in framing and shot size put us in the shoes of the characters.

IN CONCLUSION

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

  • Despite being considered as one of the greatest movies of all time, it didn't receive a single Oscar win, though it was nominated for seven, including Best Picture.
  • Tomatometer: 90%
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Roger Deakins Top Movies

7. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? Official Trailer #1

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of the first Roger Deakins movies to use digital technology during post-production, and since then Deakins has found himself using digital cameras in many films since then. He has stated in many interviews that film vs. digital isn’t as important a consideration when compared to as the script or the director.

IN CONCLUSION

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

  • This was The Coen Brothers first film to be shot in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio through the Super 35 format.
  • Tomatometer: 77%
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Roger Deakins Movies

6. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

The Man Who Wasn't There Theatrical Trailer

The Man Who Wasn’t There is the only Roger Deakins movie on this list that plays as a black and white movie, though the film was shot in color and then changed later in post. The film’s budget was $20 Million and it grossed around $18 Million when it was all said and done, but this is still one of the Roger Deakins movies with the best cinematography.

IN CONCLUSION

THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE

  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen came up with the story while working on The Hudsucker Proxy (1994). While filming the scene in the barbershop, the Coens saw a prop poster of 1940s haircuts and began developing a story about the barber who cut the hair in the poster.
  • Tomatometer: 81%
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Roger Deakins Movies

5. No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country For Old Men (2007) Official Trailer

No Country for Old Men is the only Roger Deakins movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Despite the fact that Deakins was nominated for No Country and Jesse James in the same year (2008) he lost the Oscar to Robert Elswit’s work in There Will Be Blood.

IN CONCLUSION

No Country For Old Men

  • This was the only film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture of the year to be also nominated for Best Sound Mixing.
  • Tomatometer: 93%
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Roger Deakins Movies

4. Kundun (1997)

Kundun - Full Movie

Kundun is an amazing film, and it is the only Roger Deakins movie where he was able to collaborate with director Martin Scorsese. Kundun is similar to some other Roger Deakins films in that the narrative structure is not super linear, and the film is meant to be a “tone poem” as Deakins has said himself on his blog, similar to another Roger Deakins movie, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward robert Ford

IN CONCLUSION

KUNDUN

  • Cinematographer Roger Deakins believes that Martin Scorsese hired him for the documentary experience, given that they were working with a cast of non-actors. Deakins believed that he was hired because of his ability to naturally sense how the scenes would be properly executed when the actors finished a take.
  • Tomatometer: 76%
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Roger Deakins Movies

3. Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall - Official Trailer

The visual in Skyfall is what happens when you “give” Roger Deakins and Sam Mendes $200 million to make a film. The shot of Bond falling off the train into the opening credits, the Shanghai silhouette fight, the Macau casino, and the Skyfall ranch burning at the end of the film all serve as reminders of why Roger Deakins is the greatest working DP.

IN CONCLUSION

Skyfall

  • The film's opening sequence shot in Adana and Istanbul, Turkey, took around two months to film, three months of rehearsals, four months of preparation, two hundred crew members from England, and another two hundred local crew, in order to produce less than 15 minutes of screen time.
  • Tomatometer: 92%
  • Watch Now

Roger Deakins Movies

2. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 - Official Trailer

Blade Runner 2049 is an awesome display of creativity and experimentation. This is the first Roger Deakins movie to win the Oscar for best cinematography despite it being his fourteenth nomination. I think my favorite thing about Deakins is how his favorite shots and lighting setups in the film are not the ones you might expect, but that’s exactly why he is such a great cinematographer.

IN CONCLUSION

Blade Runner 2049

  • For shooting the scene in Las Vegas, cinematographer Roger Deakins was inspired by a memory of seeing the Sydney Opera House in Australia after a dust storm. 
  • Tomatometer: 87%
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Roger Deakins Movies

1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) Official Trailer #1

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is sort of the perfect marriage between visual experimentation, tone poem filmmaking, and a character study. Character studies don’t need to focus on a single character, and in this case there were many including the setting. Roger Deakins is always great for taking the era and the location of a film and building a feeling for the film that is unforgettable.

IN CONCLUSION

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

  • Cinematographer Roger Deakins has called the arrival of the train in darkness as a high point of his career.
  • Tomatometer: 77%
  • Watch Now

UP NEXT

Roger Deakins Cinematography Tips

If Roger Deakins doesn’t inspire you to shoot your next project, I don’t know what will. Check out more of Roger Deakins' cinematography in our blog post on his unique style with shot lists and more. 

Next: Roger Deakins Cinematography Tips →
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