A Rainbow-Hued Guide to Film’s Most Colorful Moments

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There’s nothing we love more here at Flavorpill than a pop of color — you should see how much orange we have around the office. To celebrate the fun spectrum of colors (Moonglow, Summer Rain Metallic, Habanero) of the world’s most important new eco-chic design — the fetching Prius c — we’ve created our own unique guide to the best films of the past 100 years by looking through the lens of one of the most important and enigmatic design elements: color.

From Sofia Coppola’s perfectly pink Araks underwear on Scarlett Johansson’s perfectly pale bottom in Lost in Translation to Steven Spielberg’s brilliant use of the color red in Schindler’s List to Victor Fleming’s world changing emerald green moment in The Wizard of Oz, click through to check out the offbeat awards we’ve doled out to celebrate the fine art of aesthetic decision making that so often makes a good story great. We’re pretty sure Verner Panton would approve. Tell us about your favorite film color stories in the comments below!

Best Use of Red: Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List

Image credit: Eddie on Film

Talk about color as a story element! Spielberg worked with the great cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) to portray a dark, grainy Nazi Germany. One of only two color images seen in the film, the little girl in the red coat is loosely based on the story of Roma Ligocka, a Holocaust survivor who was inspired to write her memoir, The Girl in the Red Coat, after attending a screening of the film.

Runner-up: Jean-Luc Godard, Pierrot Le Fou

Image credit: Cinemania

The French New Wave adored the color red, and Godard surely did it best.

Honorable Mention: Wes Anderson, The Life Aquatic

How many people own a version of Team Zissou’s hat of choice? Enough said.

Best Use of Orange: Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Image credit: MeeMee

A surprising number of films have featured leading ladies with orange hair, but Kate Winslet’s shocking tangerine tresses are by far our favorite. And the fact that Charlie Kaufman, the best working screenwriter in Hollywood, named her character Clementine? Brilliant.

Runner-up: Tom Tykver, Run Lola Run

Image credit: DVD Beaver

Kate wore it better.

Best Use of Yellow: Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver

Image credit: The Style King

Scorsese’s masterpiece is an evocative, moody look at the greatest city in the world through the lens of one of the most iconic yellow things in the world: the New York City taxi cab.

Runner-up: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine

Image credit: Film Master Journal

The happiest little melancholy vintage VW van ever portrayed in a movie.

Honorable Mention: Udayan Prasad, The Yellow Handkerchief

Even though the film’s called The Yellow Handkerchief, the color plays a subtle, supporting role. That being said, we gave points for the fact that two of our favorite tween heartthrobs — Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne — are in it. Hey, it’s our awards list, we can make up our own rules.

Best Use of Green: Victor Fleming, The Wizard of Oz

Image credit: The Ticket Booth

The first major studio production to be filmed in bright, beautiful Technicolor, Fleming’s Wizard of Oz is as much the story of a naive girl from Kansas as it is a comment on the magical world of film. Film buffs: Although often credited as the first color film, it, in fact, was not. The first known film shot in color is an obscure 8-minute short called A Visit to the Seaside.

Runner-up: Alfonso Cuarón, Great Expectations

Image credit: Mistress Maddie

Featuring artwork by the great Francesco Clemente, the color green is all over this film. In fact, Gwyneth wears nothing else but shades of the grassy hue, as does the wonderfully creepy matchmaker, Miss Havisham.

Best Use of Blue: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Blue

Image credit: Spectrum Culture

The first film in Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s masterful art-house trilogy, Three Colors, Blue tells the story of the color on every level: symbolic, emotional and visual.

Runner-up: James Cameron, Avatar

Image credit: The Film Sufi

James Cameron might not have captured the symbolic attributes of the melancholy shade, but he absolutely nailed the visual allure of the hue with his beautiful blue Na’vi race living on the fictional planet of Pandora.

Honorable Mention: Derek Jarman, Blue

As The New York Times writes, Derek Jarman’s poetic filmic rendering of the color shows “the color blue projected uninterruptedly and without variation for the movie’s entire 76 minutes.” We applaud the singular vision, and although devastating (and hard to sit through), the excerpts of music, poetry and the filmmaker’s own spoken diary entries offering the perspective of a man living with AIDS, are a revelation that’s nothing short of remarkable.

Best Use of Purple: Howard Hawks, Gentleman Prefer Blondes

Image credit: SabuCat

Marilyn Monroe’s iconic purple dress, that according to Wikipedia, has been copied by the likes of Madonna, Geri Halliwell, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera, and in a regrettable turn, James Franco’s pink version at last year’s Academy Awards.

Runner-up: Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple

Image credit: The Best Picture Project

An obvious choice because of the title, Spielberg subtly weaves this symbol of nobility, magic and sexuality throughout the film in the form of stunning purple flowers.

Best Use of Pink: Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Image credit: Cracked

It’s no accident that the color pink finds its way into every one of Ms. Coppola’s movies. The ultimate symbol of a girl’s adolescence and virginity, shades of the innocent and erotic color appear in her first three films: a trilogy of stories about a girl’s coming of age.

Runner-up: Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters II

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Three words: pink mood slime.