Beasts of the Southern Wild (Ben Richardson):
Richardson's grainy, intimate hand-held camera work captures amazing sights without indulging in overt flashiness, such as the one above, which perhaps owes more credit to the effects crew, but has become something of a defining image for the film.
Django Unchained (Robert Richardson):
Richardson brings his usual dynamic flare to this visceral Western. Thanks to his eye for visual storytelling, the film is none too short on striking and effective images, like this morbidly beautiful slow-motion shot which depicts Bid Daddy's grisly demise.
Lincoln (Janusz Kaminski):
Kaminski's artfully composed frames find exquisite light in a desaturated palette, lending a sombre atmosphere to Lincoln's embattled political cause. The painterly frame above is just one of many that communicate solemnity with such beauty.
The Master (Mihai Malamaire Jr.):
Malaimare Jr.'s much touted 70mm photography is a mesmerizing vehicle for Anderson's frequent long takes, with its dramatic focus pulls and glossy choreography, as in this shot which sees Phoenix's directionless vagabond stow away on a warmly alluring ship.
Skyfall (Roger Deakins):
Deakins delivers a jaw-dropping showcase of some of his most invigorating work to date. He clearly hasn't lost a step in his transition from celluloid to digital. The entire Shanghai sequence (pictured above) is a monument to his eye for lighting.
Just missed: Anna Karenina, Flight, Life of Pi, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Rust and Bone