Every David Fincher Film Ranked: There are things that define the styles of various film-makers. While the atmosphere of a David Fincher film is always new and darker than the previous one, there are certain roots that he touches, now and again. The uniqueness and genius of David Fincher however, isn’t being a better version of a M. Night Shyamalan or being a filmmaker inspired by a certain Alfred Hitchcock, it’s in being and making something that stands on its own. He doesn’t weave around expositions and makes solid ground with the written work in his hands. He believes in his writers and the actors involved, while he squeezes them till the last drop of perfection.
As Fincher turns a year older and definitely wiser, we take a look back at his amazing filmography. Making a toast to him, we rank his films from the weakest to the best. We haven’t intentionally placed Alien3 on our list because Fincher himself has disowned the film because the final product was seamlessly mingled by the studio.
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9. Panic Room (2002)
In Popular opinion, Panic Room is often considered as the weakest David Fincher movie. I think it is not weak but the simplest of all his films. It was meant to be a Popcorn entertainment but someone who made Fight Club only 3 years ago couldn’t just get away with that excuse. Panic Room is a film with a formulaic plot but the execution was brilliant enough to say that this is a well-directed film with a mediocre script.
Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her un-girlie daughter move in a Manhattan Apartment and finds intruders on the very first night. Luckily there is a Panic Room in the house. But the catch here is that the Panic Room is where these intruders need to go. You may accuse me of stealing Roger Ebert’s lines but I have to mention that the film was indeed like a chessboard where we see both the players making their moves. Obviously, the better strategist won but I have to say, it was one hell of a game.
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8. The Game (1997)
What if someone offered you a life-changing experience? But it comes with a condition. It will change your life; possibly for the good but, the worse scenario is not too far either. Would you take your chances? Or will you go back to typing random alphabets on the computer screen or fight crime or cheat and abuse people to print a shit load of money? What Fincher did really well with this fabulous thriller was maintaining an ever-flowing continuous sense of dread.
Michael Douglas plays an a**ho*e. He is rude to the people he deals with, he is even rude to his family. But as the film proceeds you, Fincher peals off the character played by Douglas like an onion that makes you cry. With each layer that’s stripped-off, you see the protagonist breaking down even further. Every shot in Fincher’s The Game feels like it’s been planned and re-shot multiple times until it is absolutely perfect. There are also immaculately shot flashback sequences that show how much Fincher cares about his films.
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7. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Every act of violence is the enactment of certain symbolic deadlock. Humans are barbaric by nature, we try to hide this brutality in the veil of humanity. But every ice has a melting point; no secret can be concealed forever. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is yet another David Fincher movie that aims to unmask so-called civilized society and expose its ugly face.
For Lizbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) rage is the only rational response. Her life is full of emptiness. She exudes the semblance of fierceness, with piercing all over her body and rugged look, but emotionally she is shattered. Side by side, there is the story of a teenage girl Harriet, who under mysterious circumstances went missing 40 years ago. Henrik Vanger, an elderly secluded millionaire has spent almost his entire life examining events of that single day. He hires Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a notorious journalist to solve this mystery, assisted by Lizbeth, who earlier did profile on him. Fincher’s adaption of the first book of Millennium isn’t as meticulous as the original Swedish version directed by Adren Oplev, but it’s more chilling in every aspect.
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6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2009)
“This baby is a miracle, just not the kind of miracle one hopes to see”, said Queenie holding Benjamin, an infant born with infirmities of an old man. The same can be said for the film, a film so miraculous in its ambition and visual scope that its incoherent narrative can be easily overlooked. Just like life, this movie is made up of moments, sometimes melancholic, sometimes mesmerizing, but always curious.
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Adapted from the short story, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button feels like a bleak version of Forrest Gump. His life is full of serendipitous occurrences, an ever-blossoming life filled with adventurous and tragedy. The reverse aging of Benjamin Button adds to the peculiarity. His life unfolds in a series of flashbacks recounted by Daisy, the love of his life, lying on the death bed. Cate Blanchett convincingly pulls off the role of a whimsical woman, while Brad Pitt completely gets under the skin(s) of the title character.
Though it has a customary dark undertone, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not a typical David Fincher film. Here, the direction is more restrained, almost overshadowed by breathtaking cinematography. The real hero of this movie is Greg Cannon, the makeup artist, without whom the case of Benjamin Button would have never been curious. Despite its flaws, Benjamin Button remains Fincher’s most audacious and experimental film to date.
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Seldom does a film drifts into the zone where we fear it would wander to. And it still holds the mirror to oneself and society in the truest manner. Se7en is a contemporary urban-film-noir set in dilapidated New York city. It quintessentially blends intense plot development, finely fleshed out characters & dark visual style. Se7en is about two detectives (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman) who are chasing a mysterious and skilled serial killer.
He designs his kills to turn each sin against the sinner, and it is inspired by the Christian seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Se7en is gripping for its entire running length, yet, it is exhausting and more horrific to watch as all the murders unfold on the screen. Each murder brings the shallowness of society and how we’ve been drifting away from the architecture that defines humans. It gets even more direful when you actually see your own reflection in one of those characters. Elements within: dialogue, actions, lighting, setting, all of these tend to reinforce one another in order to paint a solid picture. It is a perverse logic that makes the final and seventh sin complete perfectly the circle of events begun with the first.
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4. Gone Girl (2014)
She lived a lie her whole life. While she was the girl who never played the cello or even the one who never got a pet dog. She wrote things that meant something to her. Her inspired paranoia, or her imaginative psyche, or even her outlook towards the constitution of marriage. She was insecure & docile, she was bitchy and intelligent. This is the story of Amazing Amy & the flirtatious and charming boy of her dreams. Mr. Fincher here strips everyone down naked and presents their unspooled brain for auction.
Gillian Flynn owns Gone Girl, but Fincher gives it the atmosphere. Flynn wrote about a guy harassed by the media, Fincher made it into a satire on, media itself. Flynn gives us clues to find out who is actually missing, Fincher plays with our head and hair as we pulled them out in breathlessness. If there is anything that made Gone Girl what it is, it will be Rosamund Pike. She puts on various costumes throughout the film and yet you never see through the blood that’s spilled. That’s the genius of Fincher, right there. He can make you laugh out hysterically even when there’s a dead body on a random bed, covered up in rushing blood. Fincher does a De Palma in Gone Girl and he does it with utter class and savvy style.
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3. Zodiac (2007)
Zodiac might have been a disappointment for those who were looking for a traditional serial killer movie where in the end the final revelation almost takes over every other aspect of the film. Yes, I like such sensational films, I enjoy them but I admire the Zodiac kind of mystery films where the revelation is one important layer among many other important layers. The film opens with a couple of brutal killings that actually happened in the San Francisco area during the time. Instead of making a film entirely about the Zodiac Killer, David Fincher made an extensive character study about 3 people involved in its investigation.
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Perhaps Zodiac is a film where one can learn more about investigation techniques than any how-to tutorial video on the same. It involves 3 major characters, a journalist and a young cartoonist who works together for a newspaper and a Californian Cop/Detective. The film spans over a period of 21 years, emphasizing the lives of these central characters and how their life changes over time for good and for bad. It isn’t my favorite David Fincher film but I believe it is his most mature film because it is one of the most notable character studies of the 21st century.
2. The Social Network (2010)
The film begins with an aggressively talented Mark Zuckerberg bullying his date, Erica. However he has no clue that he is being rude to her while making an unfiltered opinion about her life and her ‘mediocre’ education, his bullying is unintentional and honest. Before he could even realize it, she dumps him. That tells a lot about Mark. He is a tech prodigy with the kind of social skills that almost resembles an Asperger’s Syndrome. His one utter desire is to get ‘in’.
They say a great film isn’t a masterpiece if it doesn’t stand the test of time. I couldn’t agree more with the definition of a masterpiece. You see films which feel like one of the greatest films you have ever watched but over the years it loses the initial charm it possessed. This doesn’t happen with Masterpieces. David Fincher’s The Social Network is one such film, it is already 5 years old and I have to say that my opinion about it has not changed one bit. It is still David Fincher’s most accomplished film in my opinion. This masterpiece is the collective result of impeccable writing, visionary direction and great acting performances by the perfect cast and so unlike a David Fincher film.
I don’t usually say this, but The Social Network is perhaps one of the most flawless films I have ever seen. Everything about it was perfect or on the verge of being perfect. The production design creates the perfect hip and urban ambiance a film about an internet start-up required. The cinematography was flawless but the most brilliant thing here is the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. There isn’t one dull moment in the film; the film constantly switches back and forth between 3 different timelines and challenges you to indulge in the script. The film has a kind of energy that the whole runtime of the film appears like an extended climax.
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1. Fight Club (1999)
“What kind of dining set defines you as a person?” When crises, be it existential or mid-life, strikes, the boiling enigma inside your head starts forming a blurred answer. Some catch on to it, some don’t. When I first saw Fight Club it changed something in me. I started seeing things differently. I started peeling off layers inside me that I never thought existed. Fight Club does that to you. Fincher’s 1999 cult classic was about letting go, it was about destroying something beautiful and also about believing that an individual is just an entity and not a blessing of God.
The film stripped and burnt down popular belief of the burger-eating crowd and made them into soaps. The Narrator represents a lost soul, Tyler Durden the messiah of destruction, and Marla Singer a mere disturbance. All of them wear slippers of a generation defined by the number of channels their local cable operator showcases. In the course of the film, you see them tossing around their slipper and playing around with it. But in their naivety is a message: What if the inner demon overpowers the fake face? Does the slipper then act as a weapon killing insects? Maybe so!
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Based on the acclaimed novel by the same, Fincher tore the book to shreds and made it his own. I haven’t seen a film like Fight Club all my life and probably won’t for the rest of it. Oh yes! I checked on with Tyler Durden, he doesn’t mind me talking about it because I don’t wear Gucci underwear and go to gyms. *Fades out with a distorted flash of a nice big c**k*
What’s your favorite David Fincher film? How would you rate them?