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Birth (2004) Savides lends a potent, poetic romanticism to this tale of an upper-crust Manhattanite (Nicole Kidman) whose husband is seemingly reincarnated as a preteen boy. Stunning images abound, from the eerie opening jog through a snowy Central Park to the intensely intimate close-up in which Kidman comes to grips with her otherworldly situation. Click for showtimes.—Keith Uhlich
2/6
Elephant (2003) Gus Van Sant’s semifictionalized take on the Columbine shootings gains much of its raw power from Savides’s languorous tracking shots. The camera glides with ghostly detachment through school hallways both before and after the massacre, imparting a queasy sensation that we’re exploring a formerly sacred space, now defiled and haunted. Click for showtimes.—Keith Uhlich
3/6
Greenberg (2010) Only a nobody walks in L.A., and in Noah Baumbach’s tragicomedy about a lost Angeleno, Savides brilliantly used a telephoto lens to shoot Ben Stiller trudging up a steep block on foot. It’s as if the character is stuck in place—a Sisyphus forever pushing the rock of his failed ambitions up the smoggiest of hills. Click for showtimes.—David Fear
4/6
Milk (2008) Everyone remembers Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning turn as Harvey Milk, but Savides’s retro-rendering of ’70s San Francisco put the performance in its proper context. The cinematographer gives the city a slightly grainy tinge and, during the politician’s postspeech victory lap, a beautifully overlit sheen—as if you were watching an old photograph fade before your very eyes. Click for showtimes.—David Fear
5/6
Somewhere (2010) Savides created a denatured, unglamorized version of Los Angeles for this Sofia Coppola study of father-daughter dislocation that avoids lushness or overused symbols of Hollywood decadence. A poolside scene plays out in a state of unnerving calm, given the slightest hint of nostalgia by the same camera lenses used on Rumble Fish. Click for showtimes.—Joshua Rothkopf
6/6
Zodiac (2007) David Fincher’s lengthy collaboration with Savides (yep, he shot that dope title sequence for Seven) culminated with this ambitious crime procedural, a technical tour de force. Many of the movie’s ’70s interiors—diners, offices and break rooms—are captured with a studied drabness, accentuating the idea of horror hiding in plain sight. Click for showtimes.—Joshua Rothkopf

Harris Savides at MoMA

A genius cinematographer, gone too soon, is celebrated.

By David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich
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Last October, the film world lost to cancer one of its leading cinematographers: Harris Savides, a leading proponent of digital craft who had an eye for unfussy atmosphere. One can only imagine the triumphs Savides might have added to the roughly two decades of work he left behind at age 55. In honor of this extraordinary artist, beginning June 5, MoMA will present “Harris Savides: Visual Poet,” a film series of the honoree’s most significant accomplishments. Some titles will be introduced by their directors, including Noah Baumbach, David Fincher and Sofia Coppola. The following are some of our favorites shot by Savides.

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