I’d been wanting to do this post for a while, but somehow haven’t got around to it. Well, thanks to last week’s Thursday Movie Picks on favorite cinematography, which I had actually missed, I thought I should make up for it this week.
The awesome topic came from Brittani who went with films highlighting female cinematographers on her post, so for this list I’m picking five female DPs whose work I admire, and it’s safe to say they’re some of the best DPs working today.
Before I get to that, I must say that perhaps more so than other key players in filmmaking like directors/writers/producers, DPs are still very much a man’s world. Based on WomenAndHollywood.com, of the top 300 films from 2016 to 2018, 97% were male and 3% were female were credited as the director of photography (DP) across the top live action films, which translates into 33 male lensers for every 1 female lenser. Well, let’s hope this grim stats will continue to improve, I mean, there’s only one way but up!
So let’s get to the list, shall we? Here they are in random order:
1. Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Though the Danish cinematographer had been working since 2004 in a bunch of short films, I first noticed her work in Thomas Vinterberg’s 2012 Danish thriller The Hunt. It’s such a beautiful, atmospheric film, shot in her native Denmark.
A few years later she collaborated again with Vinterberg in Far from the Madding Crowd. I distinctly remember being in awe of the lush visuals of that movie, shot mostly in the UK. The forest scene is simply breathtaking. Behold:
She also did impressive work in the underrated music-themed drama Hunky Dory, The Girl on the Train, and A Quiet Place.
2. Rachel Morrison
You can’t have a list of female DPs and not mention Rachel Morrison. Though her most famous work is no doubt The Black Panther, she actually earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography for Mudbound, the film she shot before the huge Marvel film. She had the distinction of being the first woman ever recognized by the Academy in the cinematography category.
I actually still need to see MUDBOUND, which also made history for DeeRees for being the first Black woman nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
Black Panther is one of the most stunning films I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to pick which scene is the most beautiful, but I LOVE the visuals of the night car chase scene in Busan. It’s probably one of the most beautifully-shot car chases ever!
3. Maryse Alberti
The French-born DP has quite a career spanning 3+ decades, starting in the mid 80s with shorts, TV work and documentaries. Some of her films I remember well are Velvet Goldmine in the late 90s set in the world of 1970s glam-rock, The Wrestler, and Creed. The last two consist of plenty intense action scenes, given the nature of such contact sport, which I’d imagine are tough to shoot.
I love the realism in Alberti’s visual style… the scenes are dramatic and beautiful to look at, but not glamorized. There’s a realness and grit to it that also helps you as the audience to really get in on the action and also relate more to the characters.
4. Mandy Walker
The Victoria, Australia native had her start as a DP in Australian movies. The first movie I saw that she shot was Shattered Glass, about American journalist Stephen Glass. But the one movie that made me take notice of her work was in Baz Luhrmann’s AUSTRALIA, which of course was shot on location. The movie is practically a promo video for Australia, and for one of its hunkiest export Hugh Jackman in one of his most glorious form.
She also shot the stunning Chanel No. 5 perfume advert, collaborating again with Luhrmann and Nicole Kidman. She also worked on Hollywood films Red Riding Hood, Tracks, Truth and one of my favorites, Hidden Figures. I have yet to see MULAN yet, but she’s also the DP for that Disney live-action movie, so I hope to see that during the holidays!
5. Ellen Kuras
The New Jersey is known not just for her cinematography work, but also for directing documentaries. In fact, she nominated for an Oscar for her first directorial debut documentary The Betrayal in 2009. She continues to juggle both narratives and documentaries as a DP, such as JANE about Jane Goodall, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, and David Byrne’s American Utopia directed by Spike Lee.
One of her most well-known narrative work includes Blow, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Ballad of Jack and Rose and the period drama A Little Chaos which was all shot in the UK despite being set at Versailles, France. I quite enjoyed the romantic period drama, starring some of my all time favorite actors, especially Kate Winslet + Alan Rickman (reunited after Sense & Sensibility!) and there are plenty of beautiful shots to admire in it.
Surely there are more female DPs working today who do excellent work, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. So, with that in mind,
Who are some of your favorite female DPs? Feel free to include links to photos or videos.
20 thoughts on “In appreciation for 5 great female DPs working today”
Oh, I love those cinematographers. Ellen Kuras in particular as her work with Rebecca Miller is probably one of the best director/cinematographer collaborations.
Hi Steven! I really need to see more of Rebecca Miller’s work, esp The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Maggie’s Plan.
Personal Velocity I think is her best film so far.
I hope all of these female DPs gets more work down the road, it’s pretty sad that it’s still a male dominated field in the 21st century. I’ve named some of my favorite female DPs on my list underrated cinematographers a while back.
I think the more famous directors like a Nolan, Ang Lee, Cameron, Scorsese, Fincher and QT should hire female cinematographer for their upcoming films. Once they do, more female DP will get more opportunities in Hollywood.
Amen, Ted! I agree that more A-list directors should work with female DPs more. These DPs are all astonishingly-talented so yes, I hope they’d get more work and more female DPs get the opportunity to do big-budget films.
Great post! Some of these DP’s names were new to me even though the movies they shot were not. I really hope we start seeing more women getting the recognition they deserve for this.
Thanks for suggesting this topic! I didn’t realize the films I saw were shot by female DPs either until I did research for this. Yes, we definitely need to see more of their work, just as we do w/ female writers and directors.
This is a very informative list. Thanks!
Thanks for checking it out, Ian!
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Reblogged this on FlixChatter Film Blog and commented:
Given today’s THURSDAY MOVIE PICK’s topic is on female cinematographers, I thought I’d reblog this post I did last November.
Great list! It’s been so long since I watched The Hunt I don’t even remember what it looks like. I think it’s time I rewatch it.
The Hunt has some really evocative imagery, I think a lot of Thomas Vinterberg’s movie are beautifully shot.
You know, it’s kind of funny, I was recommended the first two movies you mentioned just a couple of weeks ago! I really need to check them out!
Which films are those that you were recommended?
The Hunt and Far From The Maddening Crowd 🙂
Oh THE HUNT is very, very good!! Far From the Maddening Crowd is still worth a watch despite its flaws.
Ok, so I watched The Hunt yesterday and damn, that was a good movie!
Glad to hear you like it! It’s unsettling but definitely a well-crafted film and Mads was excellent as always.
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