With Mank out now, I decided to have a look back at director David Fincher’s past movies and rank them.
David Fincher is one of my favourite directors of all time. Fincher is known as being a perfectionist, with his meticulous attention to detail when it comes to the visual style and performances on displays. He has established himself as one of the most distinct, known and revered filmmakers of modern film. Most of his films explore the dark impulses of humanity; things such as jealousy, perversion, and compulsion. They aren’t particularly upbeat by any means, but I love watching them.
I’d consider all of his movies to be really good at worst, and excellent at best. Even the movies lower on this list have a lot of great stuff in it.
11. Panic Room
Most people would have another Fincher film in the last place, but for this I’ll have Panic Room. A home invasion thriller, while it’s a fairly standard entry in the genre, it is made distinct and unique by how incredibly directed it is.
It’s a pretty familiar and conventional home invasion movie, but the script despite some faults is reasonably strong, and the movie is quite entertaining and tense throughout. The cast are all good in their parts from Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart through to Forrest Whitaker and Jared Leto. However it’s Fincher’s direction which makes it stand out so much. Stylish, dark, claustrophobic and tense, it really locks you into this one house that the movie largely takes place in from beginning to end. There’s not much about the movie that is bad, or anything concrete that firmly places it in the last place in his filmography, it’s just not quite at the level of his other movies.
10. Alien 3: Assembly Cut
Alien 3 is widely known as David Fincher’s worst movie by most, and even he disowned the movie, mainly because it is known as one of the most infamous cases of studio interference in a movie. However, I do like Alien 3 a lot more than most, specifically the Assembly Cut, which has been gaining something of a cult following. It’s definitely flawed but it has some great aspects to it too that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Instead of taking the easy path and following in line with the previous movie in the franchise with Aliens, Alien 3 not only moves closer in line to the original Alien, but it establishes itself as its own movie with its own unique style, and is considerably bleaker and more nihilistic. That naturally alienated some fans but I was on board with the new direction. One of Alien 3’s greatest strengths is that it is directed incredibly well by David Fincher. The creative filming, the stunning cinematography and the horror scenes, his work here was great. Along with some good supporting performances in the cast in Charles Dance and Charles S. Dutton, Sigourney Weaver gives her best performance as Ellen Ripley here. That’s not to say that there aren’t some issues with the movie. The CGI moments of the xenomorph have not aged well, and you can still tell that the movie has been greatly interfered with. Overall though, I thought it was a fitting conclusion to the Ellen Ripley Alien trilogy. If you haven’t already seen Alien 3, watch the Assembly Cut, it’s well worth your time.
My review of Alien 3: Assembly Cut
9. The Game
The Game isn’t one of Fincher’s stronger movies but I’d say that it is one of his more underrated work. Suspenseful, unique and weird, it’s a pretty good thriller overall, even if you have to suspend your disbelief quite a lot.
David Fincher spins an incredibly entertaining and unpredictable thriller, which escalates as the story continues and becomes crazier and crazier. There are twists and turns and keeps you interested right to the very end. Fincher’s direction is great, slick and stylised, with an intoxicating atmosphere through great cinematography and camerawork. While his character wasn’t that interesting of a protagonist, Michael Douglas’s performance made him really work, and he conveyed all the emotion that was required. The third act and the reveal in that final act is for sure far fetched, and it raises a ton of unanswered questions which really hurts the movie. It’s understandable that it’s the biggest criticism for most people, however I went along with it alright. The Game was worth going into not knowing much, it was a nice surprise when I first saw it and I even enjoyed it more on a second viewing.
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of Fincher’s lesser liked movies. It’s one of his most ‘award’s baity’ movies and it doesn’t even seem like one of his movies. It was the last movie I had yet to watch from him and it turned out to be quite great, even if it’s the film in his filmography I’m least likely to revisit.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is David Fincher’s Forrest Gump, a period piece movie following an individual over the course of their unusual and extraordinary life. It just so happens that the individual is an old Brad Pitt aging backwards. I won’t deny that it is a pretty odd movie for Fincher to take on, but I think there’s a lot of merit to it. It’s by far Fincher’s most emotional movie, as it examines life from an unconventional angle. The cast are great with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and others giving really solid performances, even if they aren’t the highlight of the movie. It doesn’t look like a Fincher movie, but he nonetheless directs it incredibly well. Beautifully shot and with incredible special effects (particularly to make Brad Pitt able to portray Benjamin Button at different stages of his life), it holds up fairly well today. If you haven’t seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button already, I do highly recommend watching it and seeing it for yourself. It is emotional yet somewhat uplifting, and well worth your time.
My review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mank is the latest film from David Fincher, and it just so happens to be his most different and his least accessible movie for audiences, requiring a knowledge or interest in old Hollywood and/or Citizen Kane. It wasn’t quite what I expected really and so far the response from most people has been a bit polarised, but I thought that it turned out to be quite great.
Mank is once again another very well made movie from David Fincher, and while I really wasn’t expecting much from it considering it’s about the writing of Citizen Kane, it surprised me. The movie wasn’t just about Citizen Kane, it was about the life of protagonist Herman J. Mankiewicz and Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, as well as politics at that time, which helped influence some of the elements in Mank’s screenplay for Citizen Kane. It is also one of the most scathing critiques of Hollywood I’ve seen. The script from Fincher’s late father Jack is great, and I was quite intrigued during the movie, at least once I figured out what it was really about. The performances all across the board were fantastic; Gary Oldman gives a career best performance as Mank, Amanda Seyfried is fantastic, Lily Collins is really good, and Charles Dance also really stands out in his limited screentime. The direction from Fincher is also a shining point, much like with Benjamin Button, you wouldn’t recognise that he directed it if you didn’t know that going in. Such great measures are taken to set it and make it look like it is on film, impressive considering that it was filmed on digital. Everything from the black and white cinematography, lighting, editing and the score comes together to form a film that’s just about technically perfect. Even though this is likely one of Fincher’s least rewatchable movies, I still consider it to be quite great, and one of the best films of 2020.
6. Gone Girl
On paper, Gone Girl seems very much in Fincher’s wheelhouse and looks like something he could make in his sleep, but what starts out as a pulpy possible murder mystery turns out to be a lot more than just that. Gone Girl is great, and on repeat viewings it’s even better, as you see how incredibly well crafted it is. Among his greatest films
I won’t get too into why this movie is so good because that would involve touching upon some significant spoilers. However I will say that all around this movie is very well made and put together. The script from Gillian Flynn, who adapted her own novel of the same name exceptionally, is fantastic. It subverts the usually straight faced murder mystery and is an effective satire and commentary about marriage and media politics. On first time viewings, it keeps the audience guessing and guessing how it would all end, with plenty of twists, turns and reveals. The performances are all great. Ben Affleck gives a believable and effective performance on his part, and Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and more all do great work in the supporting cast. However, it’s Rosamund Pike. who gives a pitch perfect performance as the complex character of Amy Dunne, who stands out among them all, taking this movie to a whole other level. David Fincher’s work as a director is once again amazing. Gone Girl is incredibly well crafted, stunningly shot, and does very well at making you feel uneasy and unsettled, from the editing to the score. One of the more disturbing films in Fincher’s filmography (mostly on a psychological level), Gone Girl is truly great. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend going into it knowing next to nothing, it’s quite an experience.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
As we all know, David Fincher directs thrillers very well, and so he was the perfect person to direct the American adaptation of hit Swedish book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve not seen the Swedish movies so I can’t say for certain which I consider better, but I consider the 2011 movie on its own to be fantastic. While it’s generally well received, I actually do love this movie more than most people.
Despite it being an American and Hollywood production, when you imagine an American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, what would initially come to mind certainly isn’t this. It’s committed to being quite bleak and dark mystery thriller, with a long runtime and a complex and incredibly engaging story. The cast all give tremendous performances, Daniel Craig gives an understated and truly effective performance but it’s of course Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander who shines the most, with such a phenomenal presence and being both imposing and empathetic when on screen. Fincher’s direction might actually be the star of the whole film, it’s so well put together, and has this bleak feeling that really works in the film’s favour. It’s edited to perfection, keeping you constantly locked in and goes quite a long way to keep you constantly invested and on board with everything that happens. It’s also a stunning looking movie, it is so atmospheric and understated that the visuals draws you into this world and setting immediately, and the chilling score elevates the tension and fear. It’s a shame that Fincher and co. weren’t able to complete the rest of the trilogy. Some people may consider it one of Fincher’s weaker work, but I consider it to be one of his best.
My review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
These next 4 movies are very close, and I’d say that they are interchangeable.
4. Fight Club
Fight Club was very controversial and divisive upon its release. However from the point it released on home media, it grew a cult following and now it is widely regarded as an all time classic. Angry, stylised, satirical and entertaining from beginning to end, it’s well deserving of all its acclaim. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should watch it as soon as you can knowing as little as possible.
Despite all the misinterpretations and some of its bad reputation, Fight Club is unironically an intelligent and well-made movie, it really was ahead of its time, with its commentary about capitalism, mental health and masculinity. It’s highly influential and had a massive impact (for better and ford worse). Also rewatching it recently it was much funnier than I remembered, with pitch black humour injected into the movie throughout. The story and characters are incredibly twisted but had me on board and entertained from beginning to end. Fincher’s direction was great, very stylised, and really puts you in the head of the main character. The cast all do great work, mainly Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, with the first two giving some of their all time best performances. It used to be my favourite of Fincher’s movies, and it still remains one of his best movies for sure.
3. The Social Network
The Social Network is quite possibly David Fincher’s most acclaimed movie of his entire career. The story of Facebook doesn’t sound interesting on paper, but Fincher, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and co. took this story and made it into a riveting and phenomenal movie, which I would class as a modern classic.
The Social Network is amazing on pretty much every level. Aaron Sorkin’s script and has you kept interested, entertained and invested throughout the whole story. It’s very fast paced, snappy, and the dialogue is perfect, drawing you into absolutely everything that’s happening. The acting all around was great, Jessie Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Justin Timberlake and more give incredible performances in their parts. This script is already fantastic, but it’s also paired with David Fincher’s perfect direction, which takes it to another level and puts it on the screen in the best way possible. The scenes are filled with such intensity, style and are very sleek. The whole movie is edited fantastically, there really was no fat left over, and conveys so many information within 2 hours. It cuts between multiple points in time and yet you can follow everything very well. It’s one of those movies that every time I revisit it, I’m blown away at just how amazingly made it was. All around, The Social Network is an incredible movie, and again, is a classic.
My review of The Social Network
Se7en is David Fincher’s first movie after his difficult experience with making Alien 3, it really showed everyone his strongest talents and that he’s a fantastic director. It’s an incredible well made piece of filmmaking that still holds up 25 years later.
Se7en is one of the best neo noir films for sure. The story is far from predictable, with a well thought out script with plenty of twists and turns that keeps you invested. It’s very intriguing and entertaining as we are looking into this mystery along with the main characters. It takes you to an incredibly impactful memorable finale, and while there’s plenty of jokes surrounding it mainly around a now iconic line, it’s a genuine haunting and affecting ending to an already dark story. The performances are fantastic from everyone especially Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, who make for a great dynamic. Fincher directed Se7en greatly with such a dark and stunning visual style and effective disturbing imagery that heightened the tension, showing enough to unsettle you but not too much that it feels like it’s trying too hard. Among one of my favourite films of all time and essential viewing for sure.
Zodiac is David Fincher’s most complex movie to date, an excellently made and intriguing mystery thriller based on true events. With this film, Fincher is at the top of his game, and it is a masterpiece for sure.
Zodiac works excellently on every single level. The script is perfect, it engages the viewer with its great dialogue, and the screenplay is packed with witty dialogue and interesting characters. There was a lot of attention to detail, from the writing to the direction. We are discovering the mystery alongside the main characters, and the time really flies by as you become just as obsessed as they are. It keeps you engaged and interested in every twist and turn, and never loses you. The cast are great, especially the three main leads in Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. Of course, Fincher directs incredibly well. It’s perfect on a technical level, very well shot and accurately recreates a vision of 1970s’s San Francisco. It may not be as dark as Se7en or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the fact that Zodiac is based on true story, and a case that wasn’t really solved, makes it even more unsettling and haunting. The moments of tension and suspense were nervewrecking, from the Zodiac killing scenes to the iconic basement scene. Above all else, Zodiac is Fincher’s most complete movie, along with The Social Network. I’ve seen it so many times and like all of Fincher’s films, it gets better with every viewing.
How would you rank David Fincher’s filmography?