Live Poll: Director Trademarks

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These talented auteurs all exhibit a near instantly recognizable style in their films - so recognizable in fact, that it doesn't take their viewers long to know whose film they are watching upon beginning. This could mean recurring themes, special effects or a general tone with which we've come to associate these directors.

Rather than asking which director is your favorite, which of these director's trademarks do you find MOST RECOGNIZABLE?

List: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls068931289/#1
Poll: http://www.imdb.com/poll/-Y73S_q6kRU/
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Kyle Perez

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Posted 2 years ago

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Kyle Perez

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Please Note: I plan on filling up the list soon, I just wanted to make the GS thread first and then proceed to add more directors. Suggestions are certainly welcome!
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Jen, Champion

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I tried to make a list a while ago but with a different focus - not filmmaking trademarks but silly insertions or other corporeal elements, like using the same actor in all their films. Ken Loach features a three-legged dog in all of his photos. But I had a hard time finding many that weren't related to filmmaking.
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Kyle Perez

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Not filmmaking trademarks but silly insertions or other corporeal elements.
That'd be a sound idea Jen, but as you said it would definitely be a hard one to research - I think many of those little 'tricks' that directors throw in their films can go unnoticed by many, as I'm sure there are some gimmicks they have that even the most shrewd critics have failed to pick up on. I was surprised this idea hadn't been done yet, I think it's an interesting one that can really help breakdown what makes each of these legendary directors truly 'unique' in their own way.
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Jen, Champion

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Here's what I have so far. Last time I worked on it was 10 months ago.
http://www.imdb.com/list/ls063643673/
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urbanemovies

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Brian De Palma
Manipulated deep-focus photography: split diopter lens (2min00sec on)
Carrie, Blow-Out, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, Snake Eyes, etc

(Edited)
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Kyle Perez

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UM,

Thanks for the suggestion. Alb had the same one, director Brian De Palma has been added along with the others above (Yasujirô OzuSergio LeoneWerner Herzog and Takeshi Kitano).
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ElM.

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I think we can do better for Marty:

Guilt-stricken, tormented characters in quest for a redemption that can't do without a sudden yet slightly predictable outburst of violence they don't necessarily cause, stories with deep Messianic undertones set in a world dominated by sleazy macho men whose Mediterranean roots divide their conception of women into two archetypes: wives/mothers and broads.

Ingmar Bergman:

A photogenic, generally in black-and-white, brainstorming over the meaning of life or its meaninglessness, taking suffering as either a proof of God's nonexistence or his cruel silence, or as his greatest miracle, since pain also highlights our own mortality, symbolized by the many closeups on clocks, Naturally, the iconic close up revealing only half a face while the other is shown in profile, as if the formed shadows represented our own fears, mysteries or unanswered questions..

John Cassavates:

Improvised dialogues, deep intimiate portrayals of people caught in an existential crisis caused by their age or their troubled relationships, pivotal scenes shots in stairs, harrowing hand-held directing giving the feeling of a documentary thus accentuating the voyeuristic feeling, generally movies that don't intend to deliver a message but to show domestic reality as its rawest.
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Kyle Perez

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Thanks ElM! Bergman and Cassavates have been added, I will consider amending the trademark description I have outlined for Scorsese.
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ElM.

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Also Sam Peckinpah aka Bloody Sam:

Hyperbolic depiction of violence through lengthy, fast-paced, and richly edited shootouts, with punctual bits of slow-motion and over-the-top outbursts of blood, that have been widely considered the pioneers of modern violence. Frequent use of revisionist Western with symbolic occurrences of oddities like cars and machine-guns to highlight the end-of-an-era feeling and the strong gap between the modern world and the out-of-touch leading characters, generally, an outcast (or group of outcasts) or a loser who'd rather end the road in a blaze of glory or following his instinct even if it means death. A world of extreme violence and disillusion with guns as the Darwinian weapon, where kids can kill and women are not spared. Sam's view on women might be considered shocking and offensive by our standards.
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ElM.

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Spike Lee:

Movies, or as he calls them "joints", set in urban NYC, with racism and social tension as the backdrop, often featuring an ethnically diverse cast (Blacks, Whites, Italians, Latinos), leading sometimes to a moment where a character addresses the camera and delivers a heated and passionate rant, also frequent use of the "double dolly", giving the impression of someone floating or gliding toward the camera. 
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Jen, Champion

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You could add to Guy Ritchie - most of his characters in the early films are known by wacky nicknames - Bacon, Barry the Baptist, Hatchet Harry, Franky Four Fingers, Bullet-Tooth Tony, Boris the Blade, Turkish, etc.
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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Hahaha, how good to be reminded of this. I love the nicknames.
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Kyle Perez

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Haha, I know they are always hilarious!
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Akash Charudatta Deshpande

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Great Idea and a great poll, Kyle!

If I have to choose the most recognizable, I would most certainly go with WES ANDERSON.

I guess I would add- Faces filled with sorrow- as most of his movies are about dysfunctional families or people.

Here's a video that look almost like a imitation of his style- which is why I think he's the most recognizable.-


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Akash Charudatta Deshpande

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I think, Wong-Kar-Wai's style is pretty recognizable as well, considering his love for colors, stylized camerawork, alienated characters, mostly handheld camerawork.

Even Antonioni's style is recognizable- which makes him boring for a lot of cinephiles- including great directors like Bergman or Truffaut.
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Sparse

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I considered Speilberg for the Williams scores. I considered Nolan, but dismissed it for the Zimmer scores. So I'll vote for someone not based on scores at all, rather, editing & humor. My vote goes to Edgar Wright.
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Kyle Perez

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Sparse,

You're right, and the scores were somewhat of a throw in, but I believe that someone with a musical ear can pick up on a Zimmer/William's score due to their distinctive sound. I also felt that so much of what supplements the heart of these directors' films are the musical scores and I thought leaving their contributions out just couldn't do.

Edgar Wright's a great choice; his films are always a fun ride.

Thanks for the vote!
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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I love this poll. I could vote for several of the choices but I think David Lynch is the most recognizable to me. I feel like I've got one or two other directors somewhere in my mind's file cabinet but they're not coming to me at the time; I definitely second Spike Lee, Peckinpah, and Argento. 

It'd be nice to have a woman on the list and I thought of Kathryn Bigelow, as a few of her films have some trademarks of sorts, but I'm not sure that she's blatantly recognizable. 
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Kyle Perez

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Thank you Ruby :) I know it's pretty difficult to find room for everyone, I think a Part 2 goes without saying for this one...
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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Yes, a part two would be great, but I don't think Bigelow is nearly as recognizable as the ones on the list. Maybe by the time you do a part two, I --or someone -- will think of a woman whose work is blatantly distinct. I'm sure there is but she's (or they're) probably practically unknown. Either that, or we all have really bad memories, lol. 
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Kyle Perez

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Maybe by the time you do a part two, I --or someone -- will think of a woman whose work is blatantly distinct.
Definitely Rube! I do feel bad that there are no women on this list, there were so many recognizable trademarks and I was really hard-pressed to put everyone I wanted to. With respect to Bigelow, I agree that while she's a fantastic director, I wouldn't necessarily know I was watching one of her films without seeing her name pop up on the credits prior to the start. 

I hope the results are close with this one. You and I love that :)
(Edited)
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Jen, Champion

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These are cobbled together from IMDb/Wiki bios so they need some (a lot) of work.

Some ladies:
Catherine Breillat - Dramas that explore female sexuality in a clinical, bleak style and with unconventional explicitness. Has been accused of being a "porno auteuriste". Explores critically as well as in an innovative way the perceptions imposed on female sexuality, related family and coming of age issues. "I am the pariah of French cinema. That can make things complicated for me: it is never easy to drum up a budget or to find a distributor for my films in France. Some people refuse even to read my scripts. But it also makes me very happy because hatred is invigorating. All true artists are hated. Only conformists are ever adored."

Leni Riefenstahl - the most effective, epic and technically innovative, propaganda films ever made. Riefenstahl heard Adolf Hitler speak at a rally in 1932 and was mesmerized by his talent as a public speaker. Describing the experience in her memoir, Riefenstahl wrote, "I had an almost apocalyptic vision that I was never able to forget. It seemed as if the Earth's surface were spreading out in front of me, like a hemisphere that suddenly splits apart in the middle, spewing out an enormous jet of water, so powerful that it touched the sky and shook the earth". Was one of the first filmmakers to use tracking shots, placing a camera on rails to follow movement. Riefenstahl played with the idea of slow motion, underwater diving shots, extremely high and low shooting angles, panoramic aerial shots, and tracking system shots for allowing fast action. Many of these shots were relatively unheard of at the time, but Leni’s use and augmentation of them set a standard, and is the reason why they are still used to this day.

Jane Campion - stories always focus on strong women, most of her films are period pieces. Campion's work is described as "perhaps the fullest and truest way of being faithful to the reality of experience"; by utilizing the "unsayable" and "unseeable," she manages to catalyze audience speculation. Campion's films tend to gravitate around themes of gender politics, such as seduction and female sexual power.

Kathryn Bigelow - often used first person perspectives and slow motion in action scenes. Her films tend to have a very raw feeling to them, without holding anything back. Violence, sex, nudity, it all has a home within her films and it never seems like it’s unnecessary.

Lisa Cholodenko - Her films are psychological character studies, revolving around a small cast of characters, and as the films progress the audience observes how the characters interact amongst each other. Her films address the fluidity of human sexuality and desire, and Cholodenko's work has helped give the LGBTQ community visibility in mainstream culture.

Nicole Holofcener - The style of much of Holofcener's work is realism. Her films do not always follow a typical plot structure and are sometimes obscure adding to the theme of realism in her work. Holofcener furthers the theme of realism in her work by dealing with a typical "everyday" middle class person and their actions. Holofcener's films almost always feature a female character in the lead as well.

Mira Nair - End credits often feature pictograms, with the credit reel ending on a pictogram. specializes in films for international audiences on Indian society, whether in the economic, social or cultural spheres. Heavily influenced by political street theater in Calcutta and documentary filmmaking, her approach, she explained, is to seek the truth of life, no matter how unpredictable. 

Nora Ephron - smart romantic comedies where people are clever, beautiful, witty and politically informed. Leads are often strong but somewhat confused women in their 30s.

Sofia Coppola - Sun filmed through leaves. Character seen gazing out of a car window from the outside, looking in. Character walking down a long hallway. Introduction scene focusing on the main character during an unidentified point in time, shown to express their loneliness. Casts former child actors as her leads. Characters often move, dreamlike, through the world that mirrors whatever dilemmas and crises they are going through in her films. There are frequent repeated shots (for example, looking outward through a window at a world passing them by) and a reliance on natural lighting throughout all of Coppola’s films that bring together her signature approach to storytelling and filmmaking. What defines the Sofia Coppola aesthetic? Is it the sublime use of soft and natural lighting? Is it the subtle pastels of the color pallet? Maybe the handheld camera that dizzily floats around the characters? All of these visual characteristics work together harmoniously to create Coppola’s distinct dreamlike atmosphere. However, the aesthetic reaches far beyond the idea of a visual trademark—Coppola’s atmosphere seems to mirror the inner workings of her characters. 
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ElM.

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Personally, I think there is a little bit of rework to do on this poll (whose premise is terrific). See, I have no doubt that all these directors' trademarks are spot-on BUT:

- since you ask for the most recognizable, I think we should stick to relatively known directors, no offense for Ozu or Edgar Wright, but it's not like their work is instantly recognizable. There are certainly many foreign directors for instance, Iranian or Ethiopian, with terrific trademark but it should be wiser to stick to the canon of the average IMDb viewers.

- some directors have instantly recognizable style, one minute from any of their films gave them away. Peckinpah is one of them, he was the major influence of QT, you can't have QT without Bloody Sam. Fellini, too, with his casting of voluptuous women, orgiastic moments, baroque directing, luscious characters representing the director's hedonistic psyche etc. 

- personally, Lumet never struck me as a director with particular trademarks, he's like John Huston or Billy Wilder, a versatile director who made different movies, the one trademark Lumet has is to make intelligent movies. The theme of failure and losers is also recurring in Huston's work but I'm not sure one theme is enough to make it a trademark.

You don't have room for all the suggestions but I would reconsider some of the options you listed, are they really identifiable trademarks or can't we replace them?

Good luck!

PS: Jean-Pierre Melville is also a good one: crime-related film noir with dark and lonely characters, long tracking shot, long moments of silence (there's no dialogue during the first 15 minutes of The Samurai), theme of fatality and failure, and movies inspired by the American gangster classics.
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ElM.

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I'm a big fan of Cassavetes, but I promise the point of his inclusion had less to do with my personal bias than the fact that he pioneered the indie movie and he was the first American director to introduce a 'Nouvelle Vague' style of filmmaking. His movies always had a 'made-at-home' feeling but the importance he gave to improvisation reinforced the raw and authentic feeling of his dramas. 

That said, there won't be room for everybody I'm afraid.
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Kyle Perez

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That said, there won't be room for everybody I'm afraid.

Hence the promise I have already made to myself to devise a Part 2 :). I agree with what both you and Alb said; perhaps some less-known directors or those who can't even compete in the same league as a QT be booted but guys like Wright and Ozu do have quite a distinctive narrative and visual style. I will have to deliberate once more...
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Jen, Champion

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Hope you can add some (or all) of the ladies!
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Kyle Perez

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Jen,

I may only have room for 1 or 2 on this poll. But I will make a Part 2 and surely include some more. As per ElM's previous point above, while all our incredible directors, it would be futile to make them compete against other options like Spielberg, Scorsese or Tarantino. I do believe they would get very few votes if put on this poll. But a part 2 will have many of the options as you gave me some great ones.
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Jen, Champion

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I'd rather see more women on the list than Michael Bay and some of the others...despite how many votes they may or may not get.
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Kyle Perez

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Thank you for the incredible feedback so far everybody! This one's been a popular topic so far, glad I could stir up some interesting thoughts from everyone :)
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Akash Charudatta Deshpande

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You haven't added Wong- kar- wai or Kielowsky yet! :( :(
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Jen, Champion

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There are tons besides those two suggestions that he hasn't yet added besides yours.
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Kyle Perez

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The list is now full, unfortunately not everyone could be included as there are countless recognizable directorial styles out there. Should this get published, I will proceed to make Part 2 with many of the aforementioned directors on it!
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Jen, Champion

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If you're going to have two lists, I strongly suggest you do one for directors active pre-'80s and one for post-'80s. Otherwise I think the top spots in both polls will all go to recent directors.
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LD

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 TIM BURTON
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Kyle Perez

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Thanks for the vote LD, I'd consider him up there in terms of being recognizable .
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ElM.

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I would recommend you to reconsider Lumet, his absence wouldn't be seen like a glaring omission:
Set in one location (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon although it's more about the real time element) the little guy who summons the courage to challenge the system (12 Angry Men, to a certain extent The Verdict or Network) , social justice and unobtrusive camera are hardly trademarks, the mark of a trademark is to be remarked, isn't it :)

I won't insist too much, but I still find unfair that Tarantino is listed and not his master Peckinpah while Guy Ritchie who's obviously QT's disciple also makes the list
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Dan Dassow, Champion

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Congratulations pere-25366 on your 105th live poll!
As of 29-Jul-2017 11:01 AM Pacific your polls have 198,035 or more votes, for an average of 1,886 votes per poll.

5537th Live Poll: http://www.imdb.com/poll/-Y73S_q6kRU/

This is the 1,614th Image poll. Such polls have a total of 3,314,166 votes for an average of 2,053 votes per poll.

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Total Number of Votes			13,186,518
Projected Date of 15 Million Votes 24-Dec-2017
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Someone who Wears Pants

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I like the poll, and voted for Hitchcock, but I do wonder if people are just voting for their favourite, and not the most recognizable style. Eh, it's not overly important, and the popular vote does not affect my vote, but I wonder if people read it correctly.
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Eneurian Erwin

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ok, i get that i'm shallow but you know it's Hollywood...i might have voted for guy ritchie if the representing shot had been from RockNRolla or Layer cake or Lock, Stock and 2 smoking barrels instead of Snatch. instead i voted for zach snyder an equally awesome director but you used Gerard Butler for the shot...just saying.........
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albstein

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The question is, "which of these director's trademarks do you find most recognizable?". The trademarks are listed in each option and are not limited to what is shown on the picture.
(Edited)