Every director has his or her own style of making a film. Some focus more on story-telling (e.g. Richard Linklater) whereas some are more about visuals (Terrence Malick). Some actually lie somewhere in between i.e. they have a strong visual style but they give equal importance to storytelling (e.g. David Fincher). For the purposes of this article, we are only going to consider the second kind: the visual masters. Directors who create stunning images onscreen and suck you right into their world. Here are 8 such working filmmakers.
Read More: Best Directors of All Time
8. Darren Afronksy
He has made some brilliant films .. be it ‘Requiem for a Dream’ or ‘Black Swan’, and you can clearly see his visual style in these films, but what really pushed him into this list is the art and the class of ‘The Fountain’. He is one filmmaker who can easily switch his style from lavish to coarse (re: from ‘The Fountain’ to ‘The Wrestler’).
7. Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson is known for presenting rather serious stories under the garb of intelligent humor. Fast cuts, intermittent dialogues, snappy camerawork, geeky and weird characters – most of his movies are marked by quirky elements. But here’s something he is also very well known by: symmetry of his shots and frames. It seems he is obsessed by symmetry, and that’s why his films are just picture perfect to look at.
6. Shane Carruth
His first film ‘Primer’ made science geeks shit in their pants. His second ‘Upstream Color‘ floored everyone — from critics to the geeks. His next film ‘Modern Ocean‘ is promising to be something spectacular on a grand scale. He is on this list because of how brilliant his two films are — visually or otherwise — and that too on such tiny budgets. Just imagine what he might be capable of doing if he gets hold of Christopher Nolaneqsue budget.
5. Christopher Nolan
“Grand” .. that’s the word that comes to mind when you think of Nolan. His sets, his films, his stories .. are all grand. But behind the grandness, the films he tries to make are mostly about simple human emotions. But of course, he is not on this list because of that. He is on the list because he has made two of the most visually grand movies of the 21st century: ‘Inception’ and ‘Interstellar’. Both are full of images that may last with you forever.
4. Pedro Almodóvar
Bizarre, twisted, liberating, revelatory, cathartic, thought-provoking, downright outrageous, colourful, emancipatory – you can easily choose any or all of these adjectives to describe Pedro Almodóvar’s movies. Pedro Almodóvar is a class of his own. Nobody, I repeat, nobody can replicate his visual style. It is just so unique that not only it’s impossible to copy his style, it could also be fatal (re: failure) for other directors.
3. Alfonso Cuaron
Cuarón is not an ordinary filmmaker. He is one of the very few directors who can claim to be good at multiple genres. Someone who’s not very familiar with his filmography would be startled to discover that a small but charmingly brilliant Spanish film ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ was made by the same guy who directed arguably the grandest science fiction of this generation: ‘Gravity’. Then, he has also directed what many claim as the finest science fiction thriller of this century: ‘Children of Men’. When you have films like ‘Children of Men’ and ‘Gravity’ — two of the most visually stunning films of this century — there’s no conversation left.
2. Wong Kar-wai
Let me put it this way. If he had just made ‘In the Mood For Love’, he would still be on this list. But then he has also made other gorgeous films like ‘Chungking Express’ and ‘The Grandmaster’. His sense of style is very different from most of the directors in Hollywood. He gives preference to still shots and jaw-dropping production design. The rest, as they say, takes care of itself.
1. Terrence Malick
Did I give it away? Terrence Malick is the obvious choice here. Sometimes, he focusses on beautiful shots to a fault. When the film requires a more firm hand on the story, Malick is still found wandering and meandering his camera. But then, he won’t be Terrence Malick that we know of today if he hadn’t stuck by his visual approach all these years. He is a genius, we all know that. But has he become too full of himself lately? That we need to seriously wonder.
Read More: Best Directors of All Time