The Best TV Cinematography of 2024 (So Far)

As we approach the halfway point of 2024 and the start of Emmy nomination voting, IndieWire’s craft team picks the best cinematography of series that premiered so far this year. Only halfway into the year, we already have had a tremendous amount of well-made television to select from, and there were a handful of projects that could have made this list and still might when we revisit later this year. For this early version, we weren’t seeking the slickest looking eye candy, nor even the most elegantly shot series (although many of these projects are striking), but instead sought titles in which the cinematography was integral to the vision of its creator and elevated the storytelling of some of the year’s best shows.

While the long and repeated grind of television production can make the art of cinematography more of a team sport working under the umbrella of a series’ visual bible, in the age of limited series, there were a number cinematographers on this list who shot a vast majority, if not the entire series, and this list features a number of director-cinematographer combinations whose collaboration is more commonly associated with feature film production. Which also might explain the presence of some legends in the field, like Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood,” “Good Night, and Good Luck”), Kim Ji-yong (“Decision to Leave”), and César Charlone (“City of God,” “The Constant Gardener”).

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This list also features cinematographers working far beyond their means. To see director of photography Nate Hurtsellers sculpt a fantasy epic look from Lance Oppenheim’s documentary about the Texas Renaissance Fair (“Ren Faire”), or Adam Bicker continue to make the quickly shot “Hacks” look like one of the most stylish shows on television (especially as the series journeys further from familiar surroundings of Las Vegas and Los Angeles), speaks to the resourcefulness of these amazing artisans. And let’s not kid ourselves, even the cinematographers working on the prestige dramas featured on this list were constantly battling the “do more with less” ethos that has gripped Hollywood in the tail end of “peak TV” (or whatever we are calling this moment of contractions and consolidation).

Although it wasn’t intentional, this list also features variety. Our picks are a mix of comedy, docuseries, auteur directors bringing their talents and cinematographers to television, new series that bring epic worlds to the small screen, and returning series able to up their game.

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