6. Pedro Almodóvar
Pedro Almodóvar is the director most synonymous with post-Franco Spanish cinema. Known for tackling societal taboos such as sexuality, sexual liberation, gender roles, religion and drugs. His cinema reflects the change in ideology in Spain following the end of military dictator Francisco Franco’s reign. Almodóvar served as the liberated voice of New Spain.
Almodóvar created many iconic role for female actors and created a body of work that celebrated everything queer. His niché cinema has attracted many gifted performers but the director has often relied on the same faces throughout the majority of his work. Knowing what the actors are capable of and how he can use them has allowed him to produce a large oeuvre packed full of compelling performances.
The late Chus Lampreave has starred in the most Almodóvar films with eight appearances. Following Lampreave is Latin cinema icon Antonio Banderas, Carmen Maura, Rossy de Palma, Marisa Paredes and Cecilia Roth, who have all appeared in seven of Almodóvar’s features. Penelope Cruz is also a frequent collaborator starring in five Almodóvar films to date.
7. Ingmar Bergman
Heralded as the king of Art Cinema, Ingmar Bergman helped revolutionize what cinema could do. He used film as medium for exploring the darkest corners of the human psyche. Taking a philosophical approach, Bergman sought to unravel the human condition and study how we react to the bleakest of circumstances.
He is known for drawing mesmerizing performances from his actors, such as the incredible performances given by Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman in Persona. He made a cultural icon out of Max Von Sydow and created a cinematic legacy that can still be found referenced in pop culture today.
His most frequent collaborator (other than cinematographer Sven Nykvist) was Gunnar Björnstrand, who quite incredibly starred in 19 of Bergman’s productions. After Björnstrand, there was Erland Josephson (15 productions), Bibi Andersson (13 productions) and Max Von Sydow (11 productions).
8. Yasujirō Ozu
Yasujirō Ozu rose to prominence in post-war Japan. After a short time making comedy shorts before the war, and a stint in military service during World War 2, Ozu began his post-war career in 1957. From this point on he would go on to make some of most influential and well loved films, sealing himself as one of the greatest Japanese directors of all time. Following his death in 1963, his talent reached worldwide recognition and he has since been considered one of the most gifted filmmakers of all time.
Ozu was known as a cinematic rule breaker. He took conventional editing and narrative techniques and turned them on their heads. For example, Ozu refused to abide by the 180-degree rule in film editing. Instead he opted to use match cutting to create a linear montage, which allowed him to utilize all 360 degrees of his sets. Another convention he worked against was the constant casting of new actors for each film. Ozu instead chose to reuse actors he knew had talent.
Incredibly, between 1928 and 1963, actor Chishū Ryū appeared in all but two of Ozu’s films, meaning he featured in a total of 52 Ozu productions. Haruko Sugimura, who would become Ozu’s main female muse, follows Ryū. She appeared in nine of his productions, and most of his best-known movies. Setsuko Hara, who appeared in six Ozu films, was the youngest of Ozu’s frequent collaborator.
9. John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes began his career as an actor and the money he earned from this helped finance his directing career. His financial situation also helped him become one of the first pioneers of indie cinema. His self-funded approach to filmmaking allowed him to work outside the studio system and use techniques that were not popular in Hollywood at the time, such as the use of improvisation and a documentary- inspired shooting style.
He had a strong relationship with his actors – being someone who had worked in their profession – and understood how to draw the best performances out of them. Cassavetes chose not to work with big name actors throughout his career, despite his acclaim, instead opting to cast actors he knew or actors he believed were truly passionate about the project they were working on.
His wife, Gena Rowlands, appeared the most times in his films with nine appearances. She is followed closely by John P. Finnegan (seven films), Seymour Cassel (six films) – who would also appear in many of the films directed by Cassavetes’ son Nick – and Val Avery (six films). Cassavetes himself appeared in eight of his own films in some form.
10. Aki Kaurismäki
Known for his distinct deadpan-style, Aki Kaurismäki has garnered a strong cult following since his debut in 1983. Celebrated by directors, the world of Kaurismäki has become Finland’s biggest cultural output. His long career has brought him many awards and sealed his auteur status, thanks in part to his distinct style.
His unique filmmaking sensibilities have lead to him relying on recasting actors he had previously worked with. Along with his brother, and fellow director, Mika, he created a community of actors, which gave his sets a more welcoming and familiar feeling. Kaurismäki wrote, produced, directed and even edited most of his work, and he certainly opts for a more personal style of filmmaking, which is bolstered by his casting choices.
Kati Outinen and the late Matti Pellonpää have appeared in the most Kaurismäki films with a total of nine features. Elina Salo is his next most frequent collaborator appearing in an impressive seven Kaurismäki films in a row.
Author Bio: A movie lover from England with a passion for writing about cinema. Luke’s movie watching career has taken him from watching Jackie Chan movies on school nights to graduating with a masters degree in film studies.