Impact: Three pics raised his profile in 2012: “Killing Them Softly,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” He enjoyed working with the evolving nature of the script for the latter. “Being able to include new information that came to light really highlighted the fluidity with which the crew was able to work,” he says. “The hunt for bin Laden was such a compelling and relevant story.”
Upcoming: Collaborating with Bennett Miller on “Foxcatcher,” the story of Olympic wrestling champ Mark Schultz and the murder of his brother, another Olympian. Also, Rupert Sanders’ “The Juliet.”
Impact: “Game of Thrones” has been a dream job, with its range and depth allowing Morgenthau to create provocative images for the HBO series. “The stories are epic but also personal,” he says. “I could draw on many things that inspire me, from chiaroscuro, firelight, overcast North Sea skies and the screaming rays of sun to light the Seven Kingdoms. Everything flows from David Benioff and Dan Weiss’ amazing writing, and from the books.” He also shot the pilot for Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow.”
Upcoming: Jon Favreau’s comedy “Chef,” and “Thor: The Dark World,” where he reunited with “Thrones” director Alan Taylor and shot in Iceland.
Impact: An Oscar for 2012’s “Life of Pi” was a highlight, but with “Oblivion” he relished getting away from green- and bluescreens and returning to capturing effects in-camera. The “sky tower” where Tom Cruise lives was lit and surrounded with projection, “500 feet of moving images and a theatrical screen going around the entire set,” allowing the filmmakers to control all backgrounds and weather.
Upcoming: Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland” — and taking a break from big movies. “I’d like to do a one-camera show,” he says, but not in television. “TV always sounds like a nightmare to me.”
Impact: On films such as “The Lone Ranger,” “Life of Pi,” “127 Hours” and all three “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequels, he’s done everything other cinematographers do — but underwater. Although added challenges are manifold, the near-weightless environment allows him to execute spectacularly complex shots. “You can do a Steadicam, crane, track and helicopter all in one move,” he says.
Upcoming: His work will be seen in the upcoming “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
Impact: As d.p. on the low-budget “Fruitvale Station,” she improvised within tight schedules while on location at Bay Area Rapid Transit stations. “We had access for about four hours and had to get like 20 shots off,” says the news/doc Emmy nominee, “so we ran everything like football plays, racing between shots.”
Upcoming: An unnamed feature drama. She also has interest in TV: “I want to work where the writing is strongest; the medium won’t dictate my choices.”
Impact: The former ASC president (2010-12) has worked closely with Ryan Murphy, logging hours at “Glee,” “The New Normal” and “American Horror Story,” which, he says, is “unlike any program I’ve ever worked on.” He reveres the “creative freedom” Murphy gives crew, and this season, inspired by a scene in “All That Jazz,” he constructed a “non-threatening darkness” when the Angel of Death visits a key character.
Upcoming: “Horror Story’s” season 3; Peter Berg’s “Bloodlines” pilot; features “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” “Fatale” and “Justice Angel.”
Impact: In between earning his 10th Oscar nomination (no wins) for Bond blockbuster “Skyfall,” the silver-haired Brit found time to serve as visual consultant on toons “The Croods” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
Upcoming: Prepping World War II-era drama “Unbroken,” which Angelina Jolie will direct from a script by Joel & Ethan Coen, with whom he’s collaborated on 11 films. “I had no idea that Joel and Ethan had even written the script until Angelina sent me a copy and I read the title page,” he says.
Impact: The in-demand Mexican-born d.p. most recently focused on fact-based films “Argo” and “We Bought a Zoo.” He has two other gritty projects in the can — director-star Tommy Lee Jones’ Western “The Homesman” and “Likeness,” a short he directed about a girl with an eating disorder. At this point, he says, he wouldn’t mind a dose of sci-fi/fantasy. “I love naturalistic lighting, but I am eager to explore different worlds and expand my imagination into realms that have their own reality.
Upcoming: Another torn-from-the-headlines tale, Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” due in November.
Impact: Best known for his work on high-tech actioners (“I, Robot,” “Live Free or Die Hard,”), the New Zealand native turned heads this year with his glossy depiction of the Jazz Age in Baz Luhrmann’s reinterpretation of the American classic “The Great Gatsby.”
Upcoming: Next he turns his lens on 6th century B.C. Greece in the sequel “300: Rise of an Empire.” “It has the same graphic nature as the first film, but in a way that’s slightly more photorealistic,” he says.
Impact: As a go-to guy for high-end TV, h e’s now at work on season three of HBO’s “Girls.” He also shot seasons one and two of “How to Make It in America,” the New York storyline of season three of “Treme” and worked with David Fincher on the final two episodes of “House of Cards” — thus transitioning into digital. “Less is more on ‘Girls,’ ” Ives says. “I look for the simplest and purest way to approach each scene in lighting and coverage.”
Impact: A master of big-budget projects, he followed up 2009’s “Star Trek” with this year’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” in which he incorporated shooting with Imax cameras. “The biggest challenge was to make it better than the first movie,” he says. He was also d.p. on Oliver Stone’s “Savages” and “John Carter” in 2012.
Upcoming: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” He says he loves shooting in New York City — even though the production had to build a replica of Times Square.
Impact: Last year he worked on three entirely different projects, “Pain & Gain,” “Broken City” and “World War Z.” “What I love about our industry is the opportunity to diversify every time we go to work,” he says. “It allows me to approach each film and its challenges with fresh eyes. I feel uncomfortable whenever I find myself repeating something. We are like chefs, but we can rewrite the recipe every day.”
Impact: Over the course of his three-decade career, the Iranian-born, AFI-schooled lenser has gone from the cerebral indies of Wayne Wang to the gargantuan crowd-pleasing action of Michael Bay and most recently Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel.”
Upcoming: Now at work with Bay on the “Transformers” sequel. “Trying to be creative and manage all the logistics is a little tricky … but it’s fun working with guys like Zack and Michael.”
Impact: The third-generation Aussie film vet has become one of Hollywood’s go-to lensers for high-octane action, lensing the third, fifth and sixth installments of the multibillion-dollar “Fast & Furious” franchise — plus “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
Upcoming: As he prepares to shoot “Fast & Furious 7” he’s contemplating a turn in the director’s chair. “Having 35 years in the camera department, I feel confident I’d be able to make that transition,” he says.
Impact: He lensed two major 2012 releases, “Iron Man 3” and “Cloud Atlas.” In the past he’s been on pics as diverse as “The Thin Red Line” and “The Last Samurai,” and also shot the pilot for TV series “Breaking Bad.” “I met Vince Gilligan years ago and always admired his writing,” he says. “Then he called me up about the pilot and it sounded like an interesting challenge.”
Upcoming: The two-time Oscar winner is shooting the Wachowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending.”
Impact: The frequent collaborator of helmers Wes Anderson and Paul Feig, he lensed “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Heat.” “I love working with film,” he says. “I’ll always push to work that way because I believe in it and I believe in the images you can get from it.”
Upcoming: Now filming Bill Pohlad’s “Love & Mercy,” the story of Beach Boys songwriter Brian Wilson, on 16mm; and Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Impact: He won the Sundance Film Festival’s cinematography award for two 2013 films, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Mother of George” — and says the aesthetic mission of both was challenging. “In ‘Saints,’ we were trying to figure out how to embody a culture of youthful rebellion into a photographic sensibility. If the characters are clearly rebellious why would the photography be anything less? If it feels right, break a few rules if not all of them, or just pretend like you never knew them, and pay the consequences later.”
Upcoming: An as-yet-untitled Bill Cosby documentary.