* AllStarCast: It's a testament to Malick's talent as a filmmaker that he is able to attract many top names to his films - the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thin_Red_Line_(1998_film)#Casting list of actors]] interested in appearing in ''Film/TheThinRedLine'' reads like a Who's Who of It Hollywood Players. The films themselves include stars such as Creator/RichardGere, Creator/JohnTravolta, Creator/AdrienBrody and more recently Creator/ColinFarrell, Creator/ChristianBale, Creator/BradPitt and Creator/SeanPenn (who, during the casting for ''The Thin Red Line'', straight up told Malick "Give me a dollar and tell me where to show up")
* BillingDisplacement: Especially common in his latter three films. Actors with high billing often have roles that are little more than cameos.
* CreatorBreakdown: Some people claim this is the reason he didn't make a movie for 20 years.
* CriticalDissonance: Malick's films are in very high regard with critics, but audiences are much more divided, especially with ''Film/TheTreeOfLife''.
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'' and Film/TheThinRedLine'' both had Oscar-nominated scores by Music/EnnioMorricone and Music/HansZimmer, respectively. TheNewWorld and TheTreeOfLife both featured mostly classical music, ranging from [[Creator/RichardWagner Wagner]] to [[LudwigVonBeethoven Beethoven]] to Mozart and Smetana.
* DeletedRole: He is notorious for cutting actors out of his movies, or reducing their screen time to the point of insignificance, as he shapes his films as he is making them:
** In ''Film/TheThinRedLine'', Creator/BillyBobThornton, Creator/MartinSheen, Creator/GaryOldman, Creator/BillPullman, Lukas Haas, Creator/ViggoMortensen, and Creator/MickeyRourke all had their parts cut from the movie.
** In ''Film/ToTheWonder'', Creator/RachelWeisz, Creator/JessicaChastain, Creator/MichaelSheen, Creator/MichaelShannon, Amanda Peet, and Creator/BarryPepper all had scenes that were cut out of the final product.
* DescendedCreator: Played a bit part in Badlands when the actor hired for the part didn't show up.
* DevelopmentHell: He takes a very, very long time to work on his projects (most famously taking a twenty-year break between Film/DaysOfHeaven and Film/TheThinRedLine), although lately he has been picking up the pace
* DoingItForTheArt: His whole career. Malick is independently wealthy, and doesn't have to make movies to make his living. This also explains the lengthy production (and post-production) periods of his films, and the lengthy gaps between them.
* LoveItOrHateIt: Either he's an incredible visionary and one of the greatest minds in cinema today or a long winded oaf with ham-fisted narration and laborious pacing. Both camps can agree that his films are [[SceneryPorn very]] [[SugarWiki/VisualEffectsOfAwesome pretty]], though.
* ReclusiveArtist: He hasn't given an interview since 1974, his contracts have stipulated that no pictures of him be taken on the set, and he doesn't attend official premieres of his films. Possibly averted, because friends say that he isn't really reclusive, and that he's just protective of his private life and prefers to work without press intrusion. He did show up for the official Cannes screening of The Tree of Life (but did not participate in the panel), and seemed rather comfortable with onlookers taking photos and video of him during the shooting of his latest film.
* TroubledProduction: Again, a result of his style of filmmaking. - shooting miles and miles of footage, then figuring it out in the editing room (which often leads to the above mentioned BillingDisplacement, where actors who once appeared in whole subplots end up getting reduced to a cameo)
** Film/DaysOfHeaven: Malick and his cinematographer Nestor Almendros fought with the crew over how to shoot and light the film (the crew favoring more traditional Hollywood methods of lighting while Malick and Almendros wanted to solely use natural lighting from the sun, meaning they could only shoot for a few minutes every day when the lighting conditions were right) The harvesting machines kept breaking down, further slowing production. Not helping matters was Malick's very loose shooting schedule, which tended to change based on the weather and his mood (Helicopters were hired one day for a certain special effects shot, only for him to change his mind and shoot a different scene, resulting in the helicopters being put on hold at great expense)
** Film/TheThinRedLine: After a twenty-year hiatus, Malick finally made the film, after months of pre-production. The production itself was extremely difficult, due to the logistics of transporting cast and crew around the jungle landscape, and once production wrapped he spent another two years editing the film.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Was originally planning to direct ''Che'', a project Creator/StevenSoderbergh and Benicio del Toro were working on. That didn't happen due to difficulties finding financing at the time leading to Malick departing to direct ''The New World'' instead, and Soderbergh wound up directing it himself. The finished product wound up being highly acclaimed in its own right, but it's difficult not to wonder how it would've turned out if Malick had directed it.
* SugarWiki/VisualEffectsOfAwesome: With ''Film/TheTreeOfLife'' being the most prominent of his works in terms of visuals.