10 Best Emmanuel Lubezki Movies

10 Best Emmanuel Lubezki Movies

Emmanuel Lubezki is a very talented director of photography. His most frequent collaborator is enigmatic but talented director Terrence Malick. The two have worked together on every one of Malick’s narrative films since The New World in 2005 to his most recent film Song to Song. Lubezki also frequently collaborates with Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G. Inarritu, two of the so-called “Three Amigos” of cinema. They, along with Guillermo del Toro are close friends. They also happen to be the only three Mexican filmmakers to receive the Academy Award for Best Director, all of which occurred in the last five years. Lubezki worked with Cuaron on Gravity, for which he won his award, as well as Inarritu on Birdman and The Revenant, both of which earned him his own back-to-back awards.


Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men performed somewhat poorly at the box office, but in the years since has been reached cult status as well as regarded as a frightening, potentially prescient film. Clive Owen’s protagonist Theo Faron lives in 2027, in a world near collapse. Children are rarer than ever, with most of the world having been infertile for the last decade-plus. It is not Alfonso Cuaron nor Lubezki’s most recognized work but arguably their best.

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The New World (2005)

After two entire decades on hiatus from the film industry, Terrence Malick returned to the scene with the 1998 film The Thin Red Line. After another seven quiet years, Malick delivered The New World, a dramatization of the colonization of Jamestown, Virginia centered around a romance between John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher). It is a dizzying, beautifully-shot film typical of Malick-Lubezki collaborations.

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Burn After Reading (2008)

Burn After Reading is the only film on this list not directed by Malick, Cuaron or Inarritu. It is not often touted as one of the Coen brothers’ best films — but only because they have so many incredible films. Burn After Reading is a truly great comedy featuring the typically deluded, paranoid types of characters the Coens enjoy making the subject of their films. It feels at the same time similar and distinct from their other films, in part because it is their only collaboration with Lubezki to date.

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Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

Alfonso Cuaron’s beautiful film Y Tu Mama Tambien follows two teenage friends from varying backgrounds nearing adulthood (Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal). They spend a summer traveling together with a beautiful older woman (Maribel Verdu). Beautifully shot by Cuaron and Lubezki, it is a coming-of-age story with the backdrop of a politically-changing Mexico.

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The Tree of Life (2011)

The Tree of Life is another film typical of Malick’s late-period work with Lubezki. It is swirling and meditative — it tells a story through mood. The film wrestles with both the relationship of one mand (Sean Penn) with his parents (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) as well as the beginning of the world as we know it. It is a lofty and engaging film.

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Gravity (2013)

Cuaron’s Gravity is both decadent and sparse. Taking place in the vacuum of space, the film relies heavily on computer-generated effects, but because of the nature of its story spends much time focusing on the relationship between two stranded astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney). His work on Gravity earned Lubezki the first of three consecutive Academy Award for Best Cinematography continuing with Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and concluding with The Revenant.

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The Revenant (2015)

Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow-up to his award-winning film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was widely-anticipated. Inarritu and Lubezki elected to challenge themselves and enhance the realism of the film by shooting with only natural light. The film dramatizes the life of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fur trapper who was left for dead in the unsettled American west but refused to die. It is a gripping film.

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To the Wonder (2012)

To the Wonder is a nearly-autobiographical film by Malick. A man named Neil (Ben Affleck) moves home to Oklahoma with his wife (Olga Kurylenko) who he met in Paris. Once in the United States, the two begin drifting apart and their marriage is continually tenuous. To make matters worse for the two, Neil reconnects with a friend from his past (Rachel McAdams). To the Wonder is a deep, somber affair albeit beautiful as well, in part because of Lubezki.

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Song to Song (2017)

Malick’s latest film Song to Song chronicles the relationships between four individuals (Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, and Michael Fassbender) in the Austin, Texas music scene. It is swirling and emotional—as well as characteristically claustrophobic. Where some filmmakers keep the psyches of their characters an arm’s length away, Malick — with the help of Lubezki — puts them at the forefront.

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Alejandro G. Inarritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) received much press before its release because of its unusual editing style. The entire film is cut to look like a single take, relying on dynamic camera movement to build tension. The film documents forgotten, former superhero actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) seeks to reinvigorate his career with a performance in a Broadway play. Inarritu won his first of two consecutive Academy Award for Best Director for this collaboration with Lubezki.

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Weekend: Aug. 29, 2019, Sep. 1, 2019

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