10 Most beautiful films and TV shows that are guaranteed to give you a visual feast
There are many things that make for a great show: engaging plot lines, evocative acting and impressive visuals. And we don’t just mean jaw-dropping CGI work or crazy camera composition. Beneath those technicalities is the subtle meaning behind certain colours used, giving way to that “A-ha!” moment.
We have curated a list of films with the most impactful cinematography that are so awe-inspiring, you could even watch it on mute!
Apart from their highly addictive plots, Korean dramas are also known for their stunning visuals. They don’t do things half-heartedly and 2016’s hit drama Goblin is a testament of that. From the panoramic shots of a quaint town in Canada to a blossoming flower field, every shot in Goblin works to beautifully evoke a sense of nostalgia for a love once lost, using only saturated colours and simple—but effective—camera effects. Kim Shin aka Gong Yoo’s slow-mo walk, anyone?
Mad Max: Fury Road
In need of some gritty action involving jacked-up cars and explosions? Mad Max: Fury Road should be on your watchlist and that intense car chase in a desolate desert is reason enough. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the cyberpunk elements and Charlize Theron as Furiosa are just some of the things that make this movie worth watching… and re-watching. Even in the burnt orange filter and drab beige ensemble, Mad Max still manages to grip the audience with its scenic cinematography, adrenaline-filled story flow as well as the crazy world the creators have built.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
We really can’t talk about aesthetically pleasing movies without mentioning at least one Wes Anderson flick. The director is famous for his use of vibrant colours, satisfying symmetry and masterful camerawork—it’s quirky, bombastic and distinctly Anderson. We guarantee the only thing that will stop you from finishing The Grand Budapest Hotel is because you’re too busy pausing every five seconds to take a screenshot for your desktop wallpaper.
Life of Pi
Life of Pi was truly a gamechanger when it debuted in 2012. Not only was Ang Lee able to bring to life a poignant story about religion, survival and faith between a young boy and a Bengal tiger, but he also did it for a film that critics deemed was “unfilmable” for the longest time. Through the use of powerful visual storytelling and state-of-the-art technology, Lee did the impossible and won four Oscars out of it. On mute or not, Life of Pi is a modern classic filled with captivating visuals that will take your breath away every time.
Picking an anime for this list might seem like a cheat because an animated film is obviously bound to have glorious visuals that are not constricted by the physical restraints of film-making. But we just have to give this Studio Ghibli classic a shout out and we think you know why too. Director Hayao Miyazaki masterfully plays with physical and metaphysical space together with an exceptional eye for detail and brilliant use of colours.
Another feat of cinematic technology is James Cameron’s 2009 classic about a blue-skinned indigenous species fighting colonisation from white exploitation. Much like Life of Pi, Avatar was groundbreaking due to its use of 3D special effects—70 per cent of the movie is CGI and actors donned special motion capture suits on a scale never before seen in Hollywood. So it will come to no surprise that Avatar is a very pretty film to marvel at, to say the least. Why not appreciate Avatar’s aesthetics while waiting for the upcoming sequel come 2021?
Zhang Yi Mou’s Shadow is perhaps the most underrated movie of 2019. If you think you’ve seen what a wuxia (Chinese traditional martial arts film) has to offer, think again. While Zhang is known for his striking use of colours (seen in Hero and House of Flying Daggers), he shows his cinematic prowess and range here by using traditional Chinese ink-wash as his visual inspiration. The greys look deep and the whites crisp; the smallest splash of colour makes for breath-taking contrast across the screen. It’s a visual masterpiece!
Enter the Void
Warning: The starting sequence of this film can potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy, so watch with caution. Argentinian director Gaspar Noe’s films fall under the New French Extremity (Cinema du corps) category, which aims to confront viewers with uncomfortable issues in their society. What makes Enter the Void different from any other film are the visual effects. Set in Tokyo, Gaspar Noe made use of the city’s strobing neon lights to evoke the feeling of lucid dreaming. Some of the visuals are even based on his personal use of psychedelics as a reference. The film’s stunning visuals even inspired A$AP Rocky’s music video for “L$D”.
In the Mood for Love
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Wong Kar Wai film. Christopher Doyle, the Australian-born Hong Kong cinematographer, is a long-time collaborator with the auteur and has worked on many visually enticing films. Not only is the film’s cinematography brilliant, its beautiful wardrobe (created by William Chang) is a pleasure to look at. Maggie Cheung’s selection of cheongsams and Tony Leung’s fitted suits set the mood perfectly.
Mexican director and cinematographer Alfonso Cuarón is renowned for his aesthetic works, such as Gravity and Pan’s Labyrinth. Roma, not to be mistaken for Rome, is set in Mexico City during the ’70s and shot entirely in black and white. Inspired by the director’s childhood, the semi-autobiographical story explores the troubled relationships between parents, and Cleo (played by Yalitza Aparicio), the live-in maid who’s keeping the family together despite her personal struggles. The film won multiple Academy Awards, including for best cinematography.
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