‘Lawrence of Arabia’ Named Top Cinematography Milestone of 20th Century by ASC

100th Anniversary of American Society of Cinematographers recognizes shots in “Blade Runner,” “The Godfather” and “Raging Bull”

The stunning desert vistas in David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” topped a list of cinematography milestones for the 20th century released by the American Society of Cinematographers on Tuesday.

In honor of their 100th anniversary, the group recognized 100 films that they consider achieved “milestones in the art and craft of cinematography” in the 20th century. The top 10 list includes “Blade Runner,” “The Godfather,” “Raging Bull,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and more.

Organized by ASC member Steven Fierberg and voted on by ASC members, the list is not strictly the “best” shot films ever but it is their effort to recognize “an artist who is an essential contributor to the magic of cinema,” according to Fierberg.

“We are trying to call attention to the most significant achievements of the cinematographer’s art,” Fierberg said in a statement via the ASC website. “We do not presume to call one masterful achievement ‘better’ than another.”

After the Top 10, the remaining 11 through 100 entries were unranked and organized only by date of release, with the oldest film on the list being 1927’s “Metropolis” and the newest film being 2000’s “In the Mood for Love.”

Interestingly, only three of the 10 films on the ASC’s list won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, those being Freddie Young for “Lawrence of Arabia,” Vittorio Storaro for “Apocalypse Now” and “Days of Heaven” by Nestor Almendros. Storaro was actually recognized twice on the list, both for “Apocalypse Now” and Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist.”

Here’s the top 10 list below, and check out the full list of 100 at theasc.com.

  1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962), shot by Freddie Young, BSC (Dir. David Lean)
  2. Blade Runner (1982), shot by Jordan Cronenweth, ASC (Dir. Ridley Scott)
  3. Apocalypse Now (1979), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  4. Citizen Kane (1941), shot by Gregg Toland, ASC (Dir. Orson Wells)
  5. The Godfather (1972), shot by Gordon Willis, ASC (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
  6. Raging Bull (1980), shot by Michael Chapman, ASC (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
  7. The Conformist (1970), shot by Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC (Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
  8. Days of Heaven (1978), shot by Néstor Almendros, ASC (Dir. Terrence Malick)
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), shot by Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC with additional photography by John Alcott, BSC (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  10. The French Connection (1971), shot by Owen Roizman, ASC (Dir. William Friedkin)