This is an interesting, but also very broad, question. For academic research, a textbook or book of essays on film history or film aesthetics (such as any of the ones here: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199791286/obo-9780199791286-0212.xml) might be a good starting place.
Overall, the most quantifiable metric is the amount of time and effort that goes into planning and executing the movie. This includes the number of takes (Kubrick infamously demanded dozens of takes for some shots). But it also includes the complexity of the shot -- longer takes, shots where the camera moves, shots where the lighting changes, and so forth all provide aesthetic effects that you wouldn't get from a static, 10-second shot, but they all require a lot more time and effort. Similarly, if you need the weather and lighting to be just right for a shot, you might have to re-attempt it over the course of several days. The limiting case of this is probably Malick's Days of Heaven, which was filmed almost entirely outdoors during the "magic hour" around sunset.
Another quantifiable metric would be the depth of field -- Malick and Kubrick are both known for composing shots with extremely deep focus. Getting deep focus usually implies extra expense: the camera needs to have a small lens aperture. One way to achieve that is to use a really wide-angle lens, which "stretches" the image in ways that might not work for the story -- though it works well for the types of stories Terry Gilliam likes to tell. If you don't want that distortion, the other way to get deep focus is to throw a lot of light onto the stage, which means more equipment, more rigging time, and generally more time and expense to get the effect.
The balance of the colors used in the palette; use of the full wide-screen image; proportion of shots which use a "flat" angle vs. a low, high, or tilted...these are also quantifiable, to some extent. But what it really boils down to is how artfully the director and cinematographer combine all these elements to support the story they're telling.