Once a respected music video director and former neighbor of one of his role models, George Lucas, David Fincher has carved out one of the most respected directing careers in Hollywood today. Known for his gritty, realistic tones in his films along with being one of the best creating countless shots in his films, there is no arguing his influence on not just audiences, but his film world peers.
In my personal order, I’ve laid out the ten films he has strictly directed which means no inclusion of the films he produced or may have assisted with:
10. Alien 3 (1992): Starting off your film career by taking the reigns of a franchise like Alien is risky simply because the first two films are considered some of the best of all time. James Cameron’s sequel to the original Ridley Scott masterpiece has been widely considered the best movie sequel of all time, those are big shoes to fill for a first time director if you ask me, and Fincher simply didn’t grow enough to tie the laces on the franchise with most of it out of his control. Issues with too many chefs in the kitchen and the lack of a script once they started shooting caused for this fiasco of a film. Though it has iconic enough shots for us to remember and some fun scenes, it has been harder and harder to view as the years go by knowing there are two films before it with such a higher level of quality. Fincher has stated he doesn’t even consider this film his and I don’t blame him.
9. The Game (1997): Though not his first film noir composed with Fincher’s iconic atmosphere, the film bulsters a world class cast of Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, and Caroll Baker, but even with it’s cleverly devised premise and stellar acting, compared to other mystery/crime thrillers he has done, it doesn’t compare, but that might not be fair. The Game is a testament to his talents seeing this film could possibly be least stellar, but it would be considered great if from any other director.
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): I’m sure you’re all wondering why this only at number eight, but I assure you that it’s not because it is a poor film by any stretch of the imagination. By some casual movie going audiences, Fincher has said to deliver us somewhat slower paced films, dry to the less refreshed film fan, and this was the film I found myself dosing off at. The make-up and technology for this film are enough to make you marvel at the craftsmanship of this movie and I enjoyed the story and the acting, but it does make me sleepy when I try to view it.
7. Zodiac (2007): This was one of those films I had to see years later to appreciate, but man is this a work of art. Now, like all art, this a highly subjective film, and that is not something I will ever argue. This was the film I truly looked at Jake Gyllenhaal in a different light as far as his talents along with Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo (Iron Man and Hulk whaaaat?!). Fincher is so gifted when it comes to genre of crime dramas and film noirs putting his stamp on the genre as one of it’s best. Based on the true story of the Zodiac killer in the 1960’s to 1970’s is violent, tension filled manhunt of film that will leave audiences polarized, but damn it if this isn’t one of the most well crafted films he’s done as it takes us back to the earliest days of film with black and white film noirs similar to this.
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): This is a film that makes me itch due to the subject matters it tackles and I won’t ever get passed some of the rape scenes through the film, but, once I grow a pair tell myself this is merely a film (even though it’s still a horrible sin), I am relieved as the film goes on. Daniel Craig gives a solid performance and Rooney Mara is unrecognizable as Lisbeth Salander. As a computer hacker, Mara gives a strong and equally vulnerable (often unintentional) performance which makes you realize how great this film is. Still, it can be difficult to view if you’re a guy like me, it still entertains you all the way through.
5. Panic Room (2002): I know, you’re all probably wondering why this ranks above some of these other films, but it’s not because Panic Room is sooo much better, but it succeeds at making me re-watch it, and that is the sign of a good film in my humble opinion. Jodie Foster gives a great performance as a mother trying to stay alive through a frightening home invasion type scenario with her daughter (a young Kristen Stewart) as the burglars boast of a cast of the great Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and a chilling performance from Dwight Yoakam.
4. Fight Club (1999): One word: unconventional. That is was Fight Club was seen as during it’s release in theaters and that is what it still is. This is considered to be one of the films that critics got wrong back in the day, but not because they were dumb or because of anything like that, but because this film really is that f**king nuts. Unless you know to look extra carefully at what goes in this movie, you are likely to miss some vital information, not to mention that there is always so much going on you aren’t too sure where it is likely to go, but that’s the beautiful madness that is Fight Club.
3. Gone Girl (2014): Some say this is too early to have such a new film so high on your list, but who are you to say that when it’s my list. Now…I love this movie, it has Ben Affleck proving he is only getting better and better as a performer and a role for the ages from Rosemund Pike. If it was not for Julianne Moore giving such a stirring and more likable role at that, Pike was getting herself an Oscar, and there’s no denying that in my eyes. Going back to his love of mystery and film noir, Fincher tackles the subjects of marriage in it’s dimmest of lights and the deep seeded thoughts men and women have often with their spouses…sometimes. It’s a gorgous film that keeps you locked in from beginning to end and will have your mouth wide open for most of the film.
2. Seven (1995): It’s so good, it’s just so freaking good. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman team up to find a murderer who uses the seven deadly sins of the bible as his sick and twisted inspiration for those he murders. It’s full of gruesome imagery and unrelenting turns for the worse as the film roles on. This is no doubt his best film noir and crime thriller in his career and has proven that it is likely to stay in that spot.
1. The Social Network (2010): Going back to what makes a great film, it’s the ones you constantly talk about, and the ones you can’t help but go back to. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook and the deep rooted issues that followed as the deceit and lack of trust of friends grows as the theme of the story. It has a classic Aaron Sorkin script with an Academy Award worthy performance by Andrew Garfield and fast paced dialogue that never takes you away from the detailed story that takes place.