I agree with Precious Doll that Raise the Red Lantern is the most ravishingly shot film of the year (though I assume it wasn't eligible here). I would also second the praise for The Last of the Mohicans (with its heavenly shots of the Blue Ridge Mountains), and also offer up The Player (with its great opening tracking shot).
Hoffa is a bit of a schizophrenic nominee, because it does have some shots -- mostly night exteriors, sometimes in the snow -- that look very good, giving the film a sense of scope as the camera captures large crowds of people in motion with an artful touch. But it's also got too many "exteriors" that were obviously shot on stages, and while the production design is to blame for a lot of the phoniness in those scenes, it's hard to avoid criticizing the cinematography as well, for contributing to the overall fake look of those moments.
The Lover is a movie I'd never heard of, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone mention it until I came to this thread. It's easy to understand why -- the film is a groaner, a glossed-up Harlequin romance with explicit sex thrown in for extra titillation. It's a pretty enough looking film, in the way that picturesque foreign locales are obviously photogenic, but it's not unique enough an achievement to consider, particularly given that it's in service of such banality.
A River Runs Through It also relies on Mother Nature to do some of its heavy lifting -- the natural beauty of Montana is almost hard to screw up -- but it at least has more aesthetic value within the context of its story, providing an old-fashioned nostalgic sheen that's genuinely transporting, in a way that even masks some of the thinness of the material. And the glimmer of the sun on the titular body of water in those fly fishing scenes offers up some truly beautiful images. Not my winner, but not an objectionable choice either.
I think Howards End is the peak achievement in the Merchant-Ivory canon, and a big reason for that is because it's easily the most visually impressive picture on their resume. The widescreen gives this film a visual richness that highlights its beautifully lit sets in majestic ways, the camera moves more gracefully than in a lot of stuffy Brit lit adaptations, and the cinematography captures the elements (the glow of sunlight, the gloom of rain) with great visual panache. I can absolutely understand why some of you have voted for it.
But for me, Unforgiven is the greater movie, and the best shot movie as well. The film takes as its thesis a demythologization of the Old West, and the images use the iconography of the genre (lonely men silhouetted against the expansive landscape, tight close-ups of faces during gunfights, individuals evocatively framed in doorways) to get at the bleakness that had often been a subtextual element of westerns, but had rarely been brought out to such a cynical and emotionally powerful degree. This is the movie here whose images seem most inextricably tied to its success as an artistic work, and I give it my enthusiastic vote.