Top 10 Hollywood Directors And Their Signature Styles

Watch enough movies and you'll probably get too familiar with some of the filming techniques and styles used, especially if you like a particular director. Be it a liberal use of lens flares in a Star Trek reboot or a more liberal use of explosions in a film about a screamy Shia Labeouf and his talking Camaro, Hollywood directors are generally known for their trademarks.

If they're brilliant enough, these styles can revolutionize the film industry. They tend to introduce new camera angles, narratives, transition effects, lighting, shot framing, etc. which have never been utilized before to full effect. 10 of them stand out for being legendary filmmakers in an environment rife with half-baked remakes and Fast and Furious. Here are Hollywood's 10 irreplaceable silver screen treasures, in no particular order of hierarchy.

RELATED: 10 Ways Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood Connects To Tarantino's Movies

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Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction
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Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction

You'll not find a more spontaneous director than Quentin Tarantino in this list or in Hollywood. His particular film trademark? Anything goes-- even the most absurd and unconventional narrative twists. While Tarantino's most noticeable quirk is the overt and comedic violence, his more subtle yet powerful symbolisms come in the form of... food.

Often, Tarantino uses food in scenes to represent power or to accompany a display of one. From the White Cake in Django Unchained to the cheeseburger in Pulp Fiction, it's an odd yet assertive association. Even this was present in Tarantino's most recent outing, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; that should be a given since a hungry Brad Pitt is part of the film.


Tom Hanks Quiz - Saving Private Ryan

Have you ever seen a dramatic facial zoom-in for the main character too many times in the most dramatic moments of the film? Chances are, you've been watching too many Steven Spielberg films. You see, Spielberg loves to convey the emotional weight of the scene with a moderately slow facial close-up.

RELATED: 10 Best Spielberg Movies Ever, According to IMDb

It doesn't matter whether the film is about a lovable MiA alien or Tom Hanks looking for an MiA Matt Damon in France. After all, Spielberg chooses his actors well and this kind of emotional close-up technique will only work if the actor/actress knows how to emote.


Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in James Cameron's Avatar

James Cameron is the director Michael Bay wishes he was. The man knows how to handle spectacles whether with digital or physical props. Pair the set pieces with the most unlikely love story ever or a strong female lead, and you get the full Cameron package. The cost, however, is a little too monumental; Cameron often has to allot hundreds of millions of dollars, because why not? Box office returns are worth it.

Such is the case for James Cameron's biggest hits. Back in the 1990s it was Titanic. Enter a new decade and James Cameron tops his own Titanic record with Avatar. Goodness knows what new milestone Avatar 2 will reach. If anything, Cameron always goes big on everything.


Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York

Long tracking shots can be difficult from both a technical and artistic standpoint. It basically requires everything to be perfect in one take, otherwise, you start all over again. Still, Martin Scorsese does not shy away from such a bold film shot. Scorsese likes to follow his characters' movements in one-long continuous tracking shot.

RELATED: 10 Movies To Watch If You're A Fan Of Martin Scorsese

The effect? We get a much more personalized scale of the character and the world he's interacting with. Also, take note of the New York accent and atmosphere, the DiCaprio, and the Rolling Stones music in case you're in doubt whether what you're watching is a Scorsese film or not.


The Sixth Sense Bruce Willis Hayley Joel Osment

Often it's difficult for a film to have more substantial twists than the pretzel you're snacking on during movie time. Even so, M. Night Shyamalan manages to pull it off in several of his films. He has blindsided the audience so flawlessly over the years that his name has become synonymous with plot twists.

Shyamalan has had recent plot twist outings in the form of Split or Glass, but his most stupefying reveal ever came in the form of Bruce Willis' realization that he's dead in The Sixth Sense. Other than that, he's also famous for having a cameo role in his films and color symbolisms. It's too bad he didn't use those to salvage what was left of The Last Airbender.


Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd

Here we go. The patron saint of emos and Goths, Tim Burton. All his films either include a deranged Johnny Depp or a color grading so dark and depressing, it will make you want to listen to My Chemical Romance. Also, Tim Burton might be colorblind to anything but white, black, and red. This gives his films a foreboding yet surprisingly charming atmosphere.

RELATED: The 10 Most Memorable Tim Burton Characters, Ranked

That's not a bad thing, of course. On the contrary, this unique style makes every Burton film worth anticipating, even though you probably know it will involve corpses, or tragic love stories, maybe Helena Bonham-Cater, half the time.


Do most of the movies you watch confuse you to hell and back (not necessarily in that order)? You might want to give your brain a breather and lay off the Christopher Nolan flicks. Each of them on their own is like solving a 10-sided Rubik's cube. That's because Nolan likes his non-linear storytelling more than he likes your understanding of the narrative.

This is at it's most confounding in Memento where the protagonist literally suffers from short-term memory loss. Meanwhile films like InceptionDunkirk (because of the storytelling structure), and Interstellar can also jam your grey matter in a knot. Hey, it's a pretty good mental exercise.


Horror and thriller filmmakers owe plenty to Alfred Hitchcock-- he's often branded as a master of suspense in cinema. Such a title for the deceased director was cemented first after Psycho's popularity. Much of the suspense is due to how Hitchcock utilizes the camera angles. He positions them to make it appear that the audience is viewing the film through the characters' eyes.

RELATED: The 10 Most Memorable Stanley Kubrick Characters, Ranked

Also, more often than not, Hitchcock has a weak spot for blondes; he often casts them as the female leads in his films, though not necessarily as strong and independent characters. It was a different time back then.


Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange

There are many aspects you can study in Kubrick's films and a short segment in a list article would probably not do justice to his filmmaking prowess. Anyway, you'll know a Kubrick film when you see one. His characters are devoid of morality, his camera angles change rapidly from general to personal (and back), and last but not least, the infamous Kubrick stare.

The character (usually male) tilts his head down, looks up beneath the eyebrows, smiles maniacally, and stares at the camera lingeringly. This is to signify that their screws have loosened. Beyond that, always prepare for a nihilistic ending in a Kubrick film.


10 Regretful Movie Deaths Grand Budapest Hotel

Have you ever met a film elitist who frowns at you with scorn every time you say 'movie' instead of 'film?' That person's favorite choice of movies - sorry, films - is most likely Wes Anderson's collection. Every frame in a Wes Anderson film is art. Every shot is symmetrical from character placement to scene compositions. So basically, every time Wes Anderson makes a movie, he takes hundreds of thousands of pieces of symmetrical photographs.

Most shots are also wide-angled and every other character has some form of fancy facial hair. The plot, while slow, is accompanied by pleasant music and odd humor. It's enough to stimulate every nerve in a film major's hypothalamus, and we all love Wes Anderson for it.

NEXT: Wes Anderson’s 10 Most Memorable Characters

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