Exploring the most beautiful shots from television’s most epic show.
Without question, there are few movies, let alone television shows, that can compete on the level of Game of Thrones. This includes everything from the complexity of story to resources to visuals. For HBO, Thrones is a show worthy of an almost infinite line of production credit. Because it’s also the network’s biggest cash cow. The good news for fans — especially those who followed the story of Westeros from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series — is that almost every penny spent on Thrones can be seen, heard, and felt on-screen.
With season 7 on the horizon, we’re giving Game of Thrones the One Perfect Shot treatment. Just as we’ve done with film franchises such as Harry Potter, Alien, Star Wars, and the films of 2016, we’ve hand-selected the most beautiful, memorable, and resonant Shots from the entire series. The final list is 140 Shots, guided by the hands of the show’s 19 directors, shot through the lenses of the show’s 15 cinematographers. The most prolific names on this list include Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), who has directed 7 episodes. The show’s most prolific cinematographer is Anette Haellmigk, who has overseen the shooting of 10 episodes, including the two final episodes of season four (“The Mountain and The Viper” and “The Children”). Haellmigk makes for a wonderful director/DP battery with Alex Graves and Daniel Sackheim, but it is the combo of director Miguel Sapochnik and DP Fabian Wagner who have done some of the most special work the show has seen. They are duly responsible for “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” and “The Winds of Winter.”
If I were to rank the performances of DPs on Thrones, Haellmigk and Wagner would be at the top. But as is the case with any television show, it takes a village to raise a visual style. That visual style is often dark and naturally lit. It often comes with the aid of visual effects and complex compositing. But the end result is, more often than not, completely brilliant.
What we’ve chosen for our list — which is broken down by episode and presented in chronological order — is what we hope is a good mix of what Game of Thrones has to offer. There are stunningly lit shots that have little to no CGI in them. There are others with massive dragons. These shots all begin in the minds of showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, pass through the filter of each episode’s director, are blocked and executed by the episode’s DP, and are finished by a massive team of visual effects, coloring, compositing, and editing artists. Every beautiful frame is the result of countless hours of hard work. All in service of making Game of Thrones the biggest, baddest show on the block.