Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Female Cinematographers


This is suggested by Brittani Burnham over at Rambling Film who really knows her movies. She gave me a run for my money because, as in many areas, the cinematography field sorely lacks a ton of women recognized for their work.  I had to look up the women who specialize in this field but I think I did ok. Head on over to Wandering Through The Shelves to find out who the other great women in this field  have created. Here are my 3...


This lady is more famously known as the cinematographer for Black Panther but I wanted to choose this movie starring Jennifer Aniston as a woman suffering from chronic pain. At first I was not sure I would like this film because the heroine is quite caustic, a truly mean bitch who has just about drove every person away.  You realize, through peeling away the layers, why she is the way she is. It is well acted by Aniston, surprisingly, well directed and I liked the look of the film which felt heavy looking and dark but you see cracks of light here and there and I think Ms. Morrison  helped capture the the weight of this character and what many people, including me, must deal with when dealing with chronic pain. It is truly worth a look.

2. HIDDEN FIGURES-2016- Mandy Walker

This Australian is, again, more famous for the live action Mulan (which I want to see) but I have chosen this gem of a film about 3 African-American women, geniuses really, who worked for NASA during the space program. All 3 actresses, Viola Davis, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer are superlative as these 3 women who had to undergo, well, crap because of the colour of their skin.  They had to walk almost a bloody mile to use a washroom even though they were helping NASA get ahead in the space race. The rich colours and look of the early 1950s really brought it that feel of many films from that time period. If anyone watched a Douglas Sirk film or others from the late 50s and early 60s, one can see how Ms. Walker used those films to create the look of this one.


Nancy was a co-cinematographer with Ian Coed on the brilliant documentary of the great Linda Ronstadt. If you don’t know who Linda is, go to YouTube and check out all the great songs she sang. She started out in Rock but she did Country, Gilbert & Sullivan, opera and folk songs from her country, Mexico. I have her album that is dedicated to her dad.  It details her life with archival film when she first started, all the way until she had to retire. The filming is done with love. The look of this film seems matter of fact but there is a sense of honour when they speak with her as she discusses her work and the disease(Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP) that has robbed her voice and will take her mind and her life. It is joyous yet so sad but never do you sense anything but respect. It really is worth watching. 

Can you think of 3 movies with female cinematographers? It's a toughie as I googled it.


  1. Hidden Figures is the only one I've seen. (Great film.) I'd really have to search for films as well as I don't know any cinematographers period.

  2. I love Rachel Morrison! I've seen your first two picks, but not the Linda Ronstadt one.

  3. Hi, Birgit!

    I'm an hour + late getting here today because I'm backed up and stacked up with A to Z and BOTB posts. Good day to you, dear friend!

    I admire friend Brittani for suggesting that this week's hop be devoted to giving props to female cinematographers. I haven't seen Cake, but can tell it's my kinda film. Beautiful, glamorous Friends alumnus Jennifer Aniston was made some wise decisions in her career. She has removed her makeup and taken on serious dramatic roles playing women with challenging lives. She has convincingly fleshed out such characters and I take my hat off to her. In the clip you posted, I loved the pharmacist's question: "You're a rich white woman. Have you ever been caught at anything?"

    Mrs. Shady and I watched Hidden Figures together a couple of years ago and loved it. I hope you don't mind me correcting you by pointing out that the star of Hidden Figures is Taraji P. Henson, not Viola Davis. Mrs. S and I also watched Taraji on the TV series Person of Interest, and we enjoyed Octavia along with Viola Davis in The Help. In Hidden Figures, I agree that the space race period was brought to life in vivid living color thanks to cinematographer Mandy.

    The trailer is superb for Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice, and offers a strong hint about the quality and excitement of the musical documentary. Clearly Linda earned the respect of the artists and musicians with whom she worked and she is handling her debilitating illness with courage, dignity and grace.

    Thank you, dear friend BB!

  4. I enjoyed Hidden Figures but could not get through the book - so sometimes the movie is better. Have heard of Cake but not seen it. I have a 2 CD compilation of Linda's work but was unfamiliar with the film. I'll have to check it out.

  5. I ADORE Linda Ronstadt!!! Had a poster of her on my wall when I was a teen and own many, many of her albums (CD's what have you) but not quite all. Was devastated when the news was announced that disease had robbed both her and the world of her voice but what a legacy she's left behind. Even with the extreme nature of her illness she still is spunky and outspoken, a real role model. All that said I still haven't been able to catch up with her documentary but it's high on my list once I find a venue to do so.

    Love Hidden Figures as well. I wasn't sure about it at first when all I knew was the title thinking it might have been some sort of horror movie but once I read the description I was intrigued. Saw it in the theatre when that was still possible and loved every minute, I own it now. I can't say the cinematography stood out for me but I'll turn my attention to it next time I watch it.

    I've heard of Cake of course but never felt any great pull to it. I'll see it one day but I'm in no rush.

    This was a tough one, to be honest unless the look of the picture really strikes me I have no idea most of the time about the cinematographer. When I started to look I found a small field of choices in what I'd seen that was shot by women.

    Beach Rats (2017)-Teen Frankie (Harris Dickinson) drifts aimlessly between his bleak home life, his loser friends, a potential new girlfriend and the older men he meets online. While narratively diffuse, cinematographer Hélène Louvart immerses the film in a shifting collage of mood and atmosphere, smells, sounds, colors, the look of skin in sunlight and darkness, back-lit by the seedy-glamorous colored lights of the picture’s Coney Island setting.

    Beau Travail (1999)-French Foreign Legion sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant) must deal with his jealousy when new recruit Sentain (Grégoire Colin) becomes a hero in the eyes of his men. Frustrated that Forestier (Michel Subor) the superior he admires, does not share his resentment for Sentain, Galoup's envy of the recruit becomes too much for him bear and his downward spiral begins. Cinematographer Agnès Godard uses the sun-bleached terrains of the film’s East Africa setting and juxtaposes it to the sun kissed taut physiques of the participants creating what was termed a “voluptuous austerity” upon the picture’s release.

    Swoon (1992)-A highly stylized recounting of the infamous thrill killing of young Bobby Frank by rich teens Nathan Leopold Jr. (Craig Chester) and Richard Loeb (Daniel Schlachet) that led to one of the most notorious trials of the 1920’s. Cinematographer Ellen Kraus uses a black & white palette to blend the anachronistic touches of the film into the disturbing sadomasochistic tone of the story.

  6. I completely forgot about Cake and now I want to rewatch it because I don't think I gave the cinematography too much thought back then.

  7. Of your picks I've only seen Hidden Figures and I enjoyed that one immensely.

    I don't retain cinematographers when watching films let alone whether they were male or female. Just not a category that I think about.

    The only one that might come to my mind is Leni Riefenstahl and she is considered a director, but since she was also a photographer I think she probably was responsible for at least the great cinematography of her visually impressive propaganda films.

    But other than that you can count me as essentially ignorant on this subject.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  8. Birgit,

    I can't think of single film but my brain feels pretty tire right now. I don't think these movies grab me much, either. I do like Jennifer Anniston, though. She's a fabulous actress.

  9. Oh, I didn’t know about the Linda Ronstadt doc, worth looking out for.

  10. I didn't know what Cake was about. Now I'll have to seek it out and check it out. And yes, I'm old enough to know who Linda Ronstadt is. I had no idea she was ill, though.

  11. Your choices are all good films that are beautifully photographed. Nomadland pops into my head right away because the director, Chloe Zhao, is also its cinematographer, and she handled her jobs so well. Now I have to turn to Google for more. Rachel Morrison was DP for Fruitvale Station, a very sad movie that's well made. Joan Churchill was DP for Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, a good documentary that's horrifying and also sad.


  12. I saw Hidden Figures and read the book. I liked the movie better, I think. These woman, as you pointed out, put up with crap, until they were finally able to show their worth. I've not seen the other two, but would love to see the Linda Ronstadt documentary. I've always loved her music. You certainly found some good ones, although I'd never heard of Cake before. And, I've never even looked for cinematographers before, either much less female.

  13. I loved Hidden Figures, one of my all time favorite movies. I thought Kevin Costner did a fantastic job in it.
    Hope you are having a pain free day.

  14. Glad we share Hidden Figures! I forgot Mandy Walker did MULAN, too. The visuals of that movie is truly amazing. I haven't seen your other two though, but have heard of the DPs.

  15. Tough category! I learned plenty just from my Google search.

    One I genuinely adore: Fruitvale Station, another Rachel Morrison film. I saw Janie mention it above. It's such a beautifully made film, beginning to end.

  16. LOVE Linda Ronstadt. The 70s were loaded with talented singers.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  17. I love Linda Ronstadt. Keep on sharing!