After ranking Quentin Tarantino‘s films, I have turned my attention to David Fincher. It is almost impossible to separate his work when you get to the business end of the list such is it’s quality but I have tried my very best.
10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
‘Hold still. I’ve never done this before, and there will be blood.’
Despite the huge success of the book upon which the film is based and also the critical acclaim it received, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo did nothing for me.
Sparse and colourless sets as well as a typically wooden performance from Daniel Craig combine for a grim and lifeless adaptation. A well made film it may be but I can’t imagine ever watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo again.
9. Panic Room (2002)
‘I spent the last 12 years of my life building rooms like this specifically to keep out people like us’
Probably the most neglected film in Fincher’s body of work, possibly because it followed the all conquering Fight Club, Panic Room is still a tense thriller and a mostly enjoyable film.
Notable for the first appearance of Kristen Stewart and her three facial expressions as well as an excellent lead performance from Jodie Foster, Panic Room is unlucky to be sandwiched between Fight Club and Zodiac.
8. Gone Girl (2014)
‘Everyone knows that ‘complicated’ is a code word for bitch.’
Never has a film filled me with such mixed feelings before than Gone Girl. Amazingly acted and containing some great scenes, Gone Girl should be a classic but the normally focused direction of David Fincher jars with the sprawling, ethereal third act.
Gone Girl is David Fincher’s most recent film and one of his most successful and despite all it’s flaws (of which it does have many) it can’t be denied as a memorable piece of work.
7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
‘It’s funny how sometimes the people we remember the least make the greatest impression on us’
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name, Benjamin Button is sometimes dismissed by Fincher fans as his attempt to make a sappy Hollywood flick. Whilst there is some truth to that, Benjamin Button is still a touching and beautiful film and a more poignant update on the massively overrated Forrest Gump.
6. The Game (1997)
‘They fuck you and fuck you and fuck you, and just when you think it’s over, that’s when the real fucking begins!’
The Game is a paranoid neo-noir thriller that sees Michael Douglas immersed into a live action video game. Years before it’s time and boasting a pair of excellent performances from Sean Penn and Michael Douglas, The Game is perhaps the most forgotten of all of Fincher’s work which is unfair for such a well realized film.
5. ALIEN3 (1992)
‘Why? Why are the innocent punished? Why the sacrifice? Why the pain? There aren’t any promises. Nothing’s certain.’
David Fincher’s directorial début was roundly hated on release with underwhelming box office results and Aliens director James Cameron commenting ‘Hated it. Simple as that. I hated what they did…. I couldn’t stand ALIEN3′
To paraphrase the great Hunter S. Thompson it is time for an agonizing reappraisal of ALIEN3. Fincher stated he didn’t want to rehash the first two wildly successful Alien films so he stamped his own inimitable film making style on the third Alien entry and when judged on it’s own merits and not against it’s predecessors, ALIEN3 stands up by itself as a brilliantly twisted sci fi film.
4. The Social Network (2010)
‘A guy who makes a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who has ever built a chair.’
The Social Network is not only the best thing that Aaron Sorkin has ever written but also Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timerblake’s finest hour. Stealing every scene though is Andrew Garfield who showed his potential to be the next Ed Norton with a vulnerable yet charismatic performance.
It may have played fast and loose with the facts at times but facts are boring. Facebook would be a whole lot more interesting if Mark Zuckerberk was closer to his on screen counterpart.
3. Se7en (1995)
‘Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder any more. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.’
David Fincher recovered from the critical bashing of Alien3 to produce one of the most unforgettable films of the 90’s in Se7en. A grotesque twist on the buddy cop genre sees Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt nurture a wonderful chemistry and of course the conclusion is one of the most iconic film endings ever. Also who wouldn’t to spend two hours listening to Morgan Freeman quote poetry.
2. Fight Club (1999)
‘I am Jack’s… complete lack of surprise.’
A film so emphatically superior to its source material that it forced Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk to comment:
‘Now that I see the movie… I was sort of embarrassed of the book, because the movie had streamlined the plot and made it so much more effective and made connections that I had never thought to make’.
Endlessly quotable and with another wonderful double act in Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, Fight Club is perhaps the biggest film of its generation and has been homaged and ripped off countless times since it’s release as the last great film of the 90’s.
1. Zodiac (2007)
‘I need to know who he is. I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye, and I need to know that it’s him.’
As well as being possibly the most underrated film ever made, Zodiac also boasts an array of incredible performances from Jake Gyllenhaal’s obsessive Robert Graysmith to Robert Downey Jr’s enigmatic and drunken Paul Avery.
The jewel in the crown for Zodiac though (other than Fincher’s peerless direction and pacing) is Mark Ruffalo’s astonishing turn as David Toschi. I often try and swing conversation at parties to Zodiac just so I can talk endlessly about how good Ruffalo is in this film. I don’t get invited to parties too often…
Fascinating subject matter and endlessly watchable, Zodiac is about as good as acting and direction can possibly be. One of my all time favourite films.