A Definitive Ranking Of David Fincher Movies

Because we’re all counting down until “Gone Girl.” And because David Fincher.

10. The Beat of the Live Drum (1985)

There’s not much Fincher can do here to make the concert documentary truly his own. But it was his first directing gig where he got to make a full-length movie, woo! (P.S. I bet now you’re totally going to listen to “Jessie’s Girl.”)

9. Alien 3 (1992)

20th Century Fox

In the words of the master himself: “No one hates it more than me.” It’s also been said that Fincher had no involvement when the film was re-edited (without his consent) before it was released. Boo.

8. The Game (1997)

Propaganda Films

Many critics were quick to once again praise Fincher and his style in this paranoia thriller, but it seemed they were more focused on the plot holes that couldn’t be ignored (and that insanely creepy clown). But more than that, it was a pretty underwhelming follow-up to the masterpiece that was “Se7en.”

7. Panic Room (2002)

Columbia Pictures

Lil’ K-Stew was surprisingly a breakout star in this 2002 hit feature, but Fincher once again makes our skin crawl as we watch Meg and her daughter being assaulted in their own home. Even from inside their panic room. Fincher and his camera glide seamlessly between the spacious, nearly empty home (the pair just moved in) and the claustrophobic fear breeding inside the panic room. He keeps us on the edge of our seats throughout the entire 112 minutes. If David Fincher doesn’t sway you to finally watch this movie, maybe Jared Leto and his cornrows will.

6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Warner Bros.

This movie was pure and authentic storytelling, something Fincher undoubtedly does well. A life lived backwards may sound unbelievable and gross (sometimes, it is) but Fincher takes us through the entire life of Benjamin Button with utter beauty. He surprisingly uses deep, earthly tones rather than his usual gloomy, dark atmosphere, but those trademark tracking shots and tight focus on a unique leading character remind us of his presence. I only wish the film (which took home 3 Oscars) was just a little bit shorter.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

I knew the source material for this film was exactly the kind of project Fincher would excel at, and that he definitely did. The brutality and utter horror in this movie is filmed in a way that is beguiling instead of off-putting (well, most of the time). And a lot of that is thanks to star Rooney Mara, but Fincher is the one ultimately pulling the strings. He brings a beloved and captivating story to life with freakish settings and strong-willed characters, played by actors who you can tell are committed to his vision. But the insanely popular book series this is based on — and the adaption critiques that obviously come with it — can end up overshadowing Fincher’s work. (Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen with the upcoming “Gone Girl.”)

4. Zodiac (2007)

Paramount Pictures

This was the first movie I ever saw by Fincher, and it was the perfect movie to get a sense of his trademarks and style. Cue the obsessive protagonist (a journalist played by the handsome Jake Gyllenhaal), horrific happenings (uh, that scene with the couple by the lake), and a dark and dreary setting (a foggy and misted San Francisco). This is a flat-out stereotypical Fincher movie, but he takes this well-told tale and spins it into a fantastically interesting police procedural that’s simultaneously horrifying and fun. While this movie is almost as long as Benjamin Button, you’ll find that those two hours and 40 minutes will fly by.

3. Fight Club (1999)

20th Century Fox

This is one of those movies that has been wildly debated, and during the time of its release it was quite controversial. Did it portray the complexities of manhood? Or indulge in unnecessary violence? This is probably the most culturally impactful of all of Fincher’s movies, I mean how many times have you heard this reference in some shape or form: “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” But rightfully so. It can be seen as a dark comedy if you look at it from a satirical point of view, but once again it’s ultimately Fincher who orchestrates this thrilling ride with Brad Pitt doing some of the best work of his career.

2. The Social Network (2010)

Relativity Media

I was surprised when I finally learned that Fincher was going to direct the much-talked-about film about Facebook. Why? Was Mark Zuckerberg secretly a serial killer? Or a drug dealer? But when I finally saw it, I knew from the (incredibly awesome) opening scene that this had him written all over it. Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of the computer genius was exactly the kind of character Fincher likes to take hold of: He’s neurotic, compulsive and controlling about everything from his groundbreaking website, his ex-girlfriend, to his vendetta against a secret Harvard club that rejected him. Aaron Sorkin does wonders with the astounding screenplay, but it’s Fincher who made this movie into an Oscar Best Picture nominee. He turns something as exciting as the start of online social networking into a cold and dark story of all-consuming bitterness and corruption. (Fun fact: This is one of my all-time favorite movies. #nerdalert)

1. Se7en (1995)

New Line Cinema

Oy, this movie. Where to begin. I had never heard of it until a few years ago when I found it at the top of many Best Horror Movie lists (yeah, I look at those, what of it). Let’s just say it was a very intense experience. My heart has never beat faster than in those last 10 or so minutes. Yes, that sounds similar to what I’ve been talking about this whole time BUT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. Se7en is utterly terrifying and gruesome without so much as a warning. But Fincher doesn’t make a spectacle out of such brutality, instead his camera slowly pans over each crime scene, mixing in the confused and confounded expressions of our leading men (the awesome duo of Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt). He even interweaves some truly funny and endearing scenes, like when they hear the train passing during dinner or this quietly sweet and thought-provoking scene between Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow. But the film really takes off when the elusive serial murderer is revealed. From there, you’ll be holding your breath until the credits roll.

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