Every once in a while, audiences are graced with a film so beautiful that it doesn’t even matter what the story is. Over the past few years, these aesthetically pleasing films have been plentiful, delighting audiences and leaving their mark on the silver screen.
Whether they have killer effects, beautiful scenery or just hit the viewers’ eye the right way, these films are referred to as some of the most visually pleasing that have ever been released. Genre, plot and talent don’t matter so much, as the cinematography in these films speaks for itself.
So without further ado, here are 12 Movies So Visually Stunning We Could Watch Them on Mute.
12 Amelie (2001)
The R-rated French film follows a young, naïve girl by the name of Amelie who spent much of her early childhood without human contact. As time goes on, Amelie moves to Paris and seeks purpose to her life, which she finds through helping others.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the romantic comedy typically divulges Amelies’ fantastical, childlike tendencies, displaying bold colors, beautiful special effects and flawless cuts and movement as far as the camera is concerned. The cinematography itself is very much an extension of the plot, so much so that characters’ emotions are brilliantly displayed throughout the scenes without dialogue.
11 Avatar (2009)
Simply put, Avatar is the story of a paraplegic marine tasked with a unique mission to visit the far-off world of Pandora that leaves him torn between his duty and his heart. The film stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez.
This sci-fi phenomenon directed by James Cameron took the world by storm upon its initial release, with reported cases of depression that fans felt having left the 3D experience of Pandora. Pandora is a Utopian society that fans desperately wanted to be real, so much so that the aesthetic portion of the film resonated more with audiences than the plot.
10 Ex Machina (2015)
Starring Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson, this sci-fi film follows a young programmer, Caleb (Gleeson), who is invited to participate in a groundbreaking experiment. In the opportunity of a lifetime, Caleb finds himself face-to-face with the world’s first, true form of artificial intelligence, encased in the body of a beautiful young woman.
The natural beauty of Ava (Vikander) is part of the reason this film is so visually pleasing, but the technology of the film is what truly sets it apart. The makeup, special effects and cinematography all come together to form a truly breathtaking film, in every sense of the word.
9 The Fall (2006)
Directed by Tarsem Singh, this film follows two patients in a hospital just outside Los Angeles in the 1920s. One, an injured stuntman, tells mythical stories to the other, a young girl with a broken arm. Due to the child’s vivid imagination and the stuntman’s current state of mind, the stories start to blur into reality, creating a film that visually tells it all.
The vivid colors and imaginative scenery present throughout the film give it that artistic quality that sets it apart from other films. Every visual component of this film captivates the audience, allowing them to feel as if they’re a part of the story.
8 The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The star-studded film, which includes such names as Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law and Jason Schwartzman, just to name a few, follows a hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes) and his friend, the lobby boy (Tony Revolori), in the period between World Wars.
The Wes Anderson film is whimsical, to say the very least, meticulously stylish and considered one of his best by many. The bold, vibrant set pieces and the regality of the hotel itself truly stand out, even against such a full cast. While the film is certainly different, and not one that tops everyone’s must-see list, the beauty of the film alone is enough to peak anyone’s interest.
7 Gravity (2013)
The sci-fi thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney may have left many moviegoers disappointed, but there’s no denying that the overwhelming special effects were enough to keep everyone watching. The story follows a medical engineer and an astronaut that are trying to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.
The film is magical in its depiction of outer space, both in the hazards and in the beauty. But don’t just take my word for it, as Gravity brought home seven Oscars, including Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. Unfortunately, it loses a lot of its luster when seen on a television screen, but in IMAX 3D, Gravity was a thrill-ride from beginning to end.
6 Interstellar (2014)
Along the same line as Gravity, Interstellar boasts a celebrity cast against an exceedingly powerful, outer-space backdrop. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, this space film follows a group of explorers who must go beyond our solar system to find a planet that can sustain life due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions on Earth.
The past few years have brought multiple outer space films to the silver screen, but this is arguably the most stunning of them all. The contrast between the isolation of space and the bustling, worsening conditions on Earth is breathtaking, heartbreaking and everything in between. Plus, the film brought home an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
5 Life of Pi (2012)
Based on the novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is about a young man who survives a shipwreck and is cast away at sea with only a Bengal tiger as a companion. Directed by Ang Lee, the film was nominated for over one hundred awards, and ended up bringing home four Oscars, including Best Director, Visual Effects and Cinematography.
And as if the awards didn’t speak for themselves, Life of Pi displays an intricate understanding of spirituality and life, taking an already complex subject and transforming it into a visual masterpiece that audiences of all ages can enjoy.
4 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, follows an apocalyptic story, set in the future, in which a woman, Furiosa (Theron) must overcome a tyrannical leader with the help of Max (Hardy), a man of action and companion in this quest. The film is bold, fast-paced and unlike any other you’ve ever seen.
The 2015 action film hit it big in the box office, bringing home over $375 million worldwide. And with a $150 million budget to work with, it’s undeniable that the visuals in this film are incredible. In comparison with other action films, this is the top of the food chain that others should aspire to reach.
3 The Revenant (2015)
Yet another huge film released in 2015, The Revenant isn’t only the film that might finally earn Leo DiCaprio his much-deserved Oscar, but it’s also one of the most intense, violent and visually amazing films released in a long time. On a fur trading expedition in the 1820s, a man is mauled by a bear and left behind, forced to survive in the harsh conditions on his own.
The Revenant, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is currently in theaters, leaving moviegoers absolutely speechless. While reviews of the plot are fairly mixed, the film is universally described as a brutal, stunning visual win, and DiCaprio’s performance helps take it all that extra mile.
2 Skyfall (2012)
The 2012 film starring Daniel Craig as the (in)famous Bond, James Bond, was one of the most visually appealing 007 movies yet. On his latest mission, Bond must destroy a threat to M16 once it comes under attack, despite the personal implications. The film was directed by Sam Mendes, won two Oscars and was nominated for Best Cinematography.
Every scene is rich with beauty, successfully accomplishing the stark contrast between aggressively escalating action sequences and intimate, character-driven moments. But most notably, the film’s use of CGI doesn’t detract from the tangible feeling of the objects in question. The balance of this Bond film is a large part of the reason it stands out so brilliantly amongst the others.
1 What Dreams May Come (1998)
The oldest film on this list, What Dreams May Come tells the story of a man who dies in a car crash and must now search for his wife through Heaven and Hell (literally). Oh, and if the plot summary wasn’t enough to grab your attention, this film stars Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr..
Vincent Ward’s visual masterpiece takes viewers along a spiritual journey, though it does ultimately leave them high and dry. The plot is universally described as detracting from the film’s beautiful scenery and surrealism. The film did win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, so while visual effects alone can’t carry a film, they can certainly be enjoyed on mute.
Did we miss a film that you though was truly stunning? Let us know in the comments!