7 movie directors with legendary signature styles

Ahh, the “magnificent seven”. Seven directors whose style is all their own - unmistakable, unique, unrivalled. One-of-a-kind. We are so not worthy...
QUENTIN TARANTINO

He’s the only Director whose name has spurned an adjective: Tarantinoesque.
Many have tried to copy his combustible mix of shot-gun dialogue and bloody violence, but none have come close to touching him. For all his flair and idiosyncratic directorial flourishes, with Tarantino it all comes down to the story. Revered as the ‘Shakespeare for modern cineastes’, he captures unimaginable images through the self-referential lens of his uber-nerd-cool vision. A single scene can go for 15 minutes - and you’ll be riveted for every second. Then the blood flows.

Tarantino
Source: [Universal Pictures]

GUY RITCHIE

If Tarantino is the King of Dialogue, then Ritchie is the Heir Apparent. Where Tarantino’s dialogue is self-referential, loaded with sly references and apocalyptic in tone and meaning; Ritchie delivers the rapid-fire banter of lads on a big night out. Street-smart, smart-ass, tongue-in-cheek, Ritchie presents us with celluloid heroes who have seen it all, done it all and take it all with a cynical roll of the eye.

They bicker, banter, then punch the lights out of each other. And when it comes to action, Ritchie wields a camera like a sword - piercing it into the heart of the action. Whip pans, jump cuts, vary speeds, fast cut edits, chopping, mashing, meshing ... Ritchie uses a full arsenal of tricks in movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Sherlock Holmes. But it all comes to a crescendo with his killer reboot of the King Arthur legend. In one masterful move, Ritchie has given this ages-old tale a totally fresh and ‘now’ perspective. May we coin the term Ritchiesque?

Ritchie

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN

You want smart, then Nolan gives it up in droves. His stories are complex, complicated, layered and textured. You know there is a serious brain behind his productions, so precise they’re almost mathematical equations. But Nolan doesn’t just offer up puzzles, cryptic messages, mystique and interwoven narratives, he’s just as adept with his visualisation. His imagery can be visionary (Inception), revolutionary (The Dark Knight) symbolic (Dunkirk) or just a downright head spin (Memento).

Nolan

BAZ LURHMANN 

When too much is never enough... call in Baz. Sumptuous, golden, gilded, glossy, dripping in luxury, sparkling with jewels, a Baz Lurhmann production assaults all your senses with an overload of exotica. 

Baz creates grand theatre and is a master of detail. Even in his earliest, low budget productions like Strictly Ballroom, Baz infused his screen with technicolour magic. Everything pops. Everything is larger than life. Everything is soaked in glamour. Even when he’s stripped back, like in certain scenes in Australia or his Netflix TV series The Get Down, Baz can’t help his penchant for the hyper-real. A Baz movie glistens (Moulin Rouge) and throbs (Romeo + Juliet).

Lurhmann
Source: [Twentieth Century Fox]

MARTIN SCORSESE

The master of American cinema has been dealing in iconic moments for nearly 50 years. With Scorsese, you’re in assured hands; and you will experience a view through the lens that no-one else can deliver. 

Scorsese makes classic film-making seem modern, relevant and even ground-breaking. His use of slow-motion, freeze-frame, long tracking shots (the one in Goodfellas is often considered the finest in cinema history), silence and powerful music are standout hallmarks of most of his films. While the inclusion of Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t mandatory, it’s usually a given.

Scorsese

MICHAEL BAY

Want to blow everything to smithereens – Bay is your man. He’s the man behind the mayhem, the executioner of explosions and the baron of big budget blow ups- in movies like Armageddon, Pearl Harbour, Bad Boys and Transformers. It doesn’t herald at the beginning of his movies ‘A Michael Bay production’ for nothing. 

Some of his signature moves include fast camera movement, busy, loaded frames and coloured filters to highlight mood and tension. There’s even a style of shot nicknamed after him - The Bay Shot - where the camera circles around the protagonist as they rise up triumphantly.

Bay
Source: [Touchstone Pictures]

SOFIA COPPOLA
Sofia is one of the most daring and talented Directors working today. Characters move dream-like through the world as Coppola’s camera follows from behind using either a hand held camera or dolly. There are frequent repeated shots, a love of natural lighting, languid camera movements, pastel colours, lush frames and sensuous imagery. These hallmarks can be seen in nearly all her movies, from The Virgin Suicides to The Bling Ring, perhaps reaching its high-water mark with Marie Antoinette

With a keen interest in fashion, photography, architecture, design and music, Coppola’s films are visually striking and aesthetically sophisticated... but this never comes at the cost of the story. Coppola’s directing style forces us to feel and not just watch her work.

Coppola
Source: [Columbia Pictures]


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