The 2019 Golden Cages: Best Cinematography


Another year of cinema has passed, which means it’s time for our second annual Golden Cages awards, the only end-of-the-year awards program featuring everyone’s favorite actor as a screaming statuette! Over the next two weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, we at Flixist will be announcing our winners across seventeen different categories for what we consider the best achievements in film in 2019. Why do we wait so long into the year to do this? Because we can! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the awards.

The cinematography of a film will make or break it. That is just a fact. It is the audience’s entry point into the view space of the story and without good cinematography, a story can greatly suffer, while beautiful cinematography can add depth to a film. The Lighthouse has masterful cinematography that depicts a bleak, stormy lighthouse that has two wickies at odds for a glorious hour and fifty minutes.

When asked to describe The Lighthouse, I’ve been going with a few explanations. It’s two men in a lighthouse, slowly going mad. It is a story of two representations of mythological characters attacking each other with their varying outlooks on the world. It’s a black and white artsy movie where you’ll be viewing the movie as if you placed borders on the top and to the sides of the screen. Different ways for different styles of moviegoers. No matter how it is described it should always be noted that this is a gorgeously shot movie.

Black and white movies are a hard sell these days. Most folks will look at them and scoff and refuse to watch it. That is just one aspect of the film and that way of thinking will leave people to miss out on one of the best movies of the year. The Lighthouse truly benefits from how it is shot. The black and white aspect of it is essential and brings the feeling of cold and dark the film relies on for its mood. Robert Eggers prides himself on keeping things as authentic as possible. They used vintage lenses from around that time period to capture the dark, grainy feel of being in a lighthouse. For a movie so visually dark, it is never hard to make out what is happening on screen. The lighting was natural, using kerosene lamps to illuminate scenes and bring that creeping despair to every inch of the screen.

The cinematography presented in The Lighthouse is beautiful. The contrast of black and white reflects the two worlds that these characters live in. Ephraim, the day and Thomas, the night and as the story goes on the worlds blend together more. The aspect ratio of 1.19:1 narrows the framing of the story and adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere that persists throughout the run time. You feel trapped on the island with the two wickies. The scope of view is letting you share in the solitude that the characters are facing. It is just them and the lighthouse. The island they live on becomes their whole world and their prison within those borders.

The Lighthouse, like any film, would be a lesser film if the cinematography had not been as good as it is. Jarin Blaschke and Eggers have crafted a haunting and dark fable that brings you into the world and lets you be a wicky for a much shorter time than the Thomas’ are subjected to. The surreal and horrific things that happen on-screen are all the better for the choices made in bringing this vision to life. The lens that you view the film through is just one piece of what makes this one of the best movies of 2019 and our Golden Cages Winner for Best Cinematography of 2019.