The 10 Most Stylistic Directors
Some directors have a style so unique you can tell it’s their movie before the opening credits even reveal their name. Whether it be the music they choose to accompany their picture, the actors they’ve selected for the parts, or even simply the look of the movie itself, their style is almost like a calling card that screams only their name. Of course, many may try to copy their style, but no one will ever be able to replicate it exactly. That’s what makes their films unique.
There isn’t another director out there who is able to combine the warm fuzzy feelings of Americana and the dread of a horrific nightmare so effectively as David Lynch. With his stilted dialogue, his old-fashioned costumes and set design, and his fascination with duality and the balance between good and evil, no one can do what Lynch does as well as Lynch himself.
It’s difficult to call Tarantino stylized when his style is so directly influenced by so many other directors and genres, but there’s no denying the look and feel of a Tarantino movie. Even if the music he uses, the shots he composes, and the stories he tells all come from other people, he’s the one mashing them together in such a way that it feels uniquely his own.
All of Sofia Coppola’s films have a very similar look and feel to them: soft, lacy frills. Pink and white and beige hues. Delicate main characters, all plagued by some sort of inexplicable melancholy. They feel timeless, like they could be taking place at any time. There’s really no better word to describe the look and feel of her movies other than delicate.
Like David Lynch and Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson’s style is uniquely timeless in his own way. Like Tarantino, he wears his influences on his sleeve. Each movie seems to have its own color palette, from its costumes to its sets to the filter through which the movie seems to be projected. His dialogue is quick and snappy, just like his cinematography.
Don’t be fooled: just because a director has a style, that doesn’t mean their movies are exceptionally good. Zack Snyder is one example of this. He has a style that is undeniable: Big CGI effects, dark and gritty locales, a booming score. Once you’ve seen one of Snyder’s films, you’ll be able to spot them from a mile away. He is one of a kind, for better or for worse.
More than any other director, Edgar Wright’s films feel like comic book panels — complete with whooshes and zooms. The camera moves swiftly and smoothly from one shot to the next, just as the dialogue and the action does. He’s clever, he’s in love with sticking to specific genres, and his movies are always a blast.
Ignoring the fact that David Fincher’s movies tend to be quite long, his films also stick very eerie, very unsettling shades of navy and amber. He tends to focus on the relationship between good and evil that exists within all of us. His characters all seem normal, relatable even, which makes their eventual turn to evil all the more uncomfortable for the viewer.
While he might appear to be a parody of himself at this point, Tim Burton really was quite innovative at the start of his career. Casting the same actors and making everything and everyone look really pale and gothic are Burton stereotypes, but it felt refreshing back in the 80s and 90s when no one was doing what he was doing. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands might be one of the greatest tetralogies of releases a director has ever put out.
With such a small filmography, it’s a true testament to Terrence Malick’s filmography to see just how iconic (and mimicked) his signature style has become. Often focusing on nature and its connection to the grand scheme of things about as often as a transcendentalist poet, Malick’s infamous sweeping shots of wheat fields and beautiful wide-angled landscapes make up much of his films. Many have tried to do what he does, but only Malick knows how to do it best.
The Wachowski Sisters
Bursting onto the scene with their incredibly gripping sophomore release The Matrix, the Wachowskis have been a force to be reckoned with. They never bow to what critics think of their work, always seeming to keep their audience in mind over anyone else. Their work post-Matrix has been incredibly controversial, often dividing critics and audiences, but one thing can be certain: in a time where directors over-utilize CGI, no one can accuse the Wachowskis of conforming or being boring. They always manage to make CGI pop more than anyone else.