David Fincher’s upcoming movie – neo-noir actioner The Killer, set to be released on Netflix – is shaping up to be one of his most thrilling directorial efforts to date. Since getting his start directing music videos for such iconic artists as Madonna, Fincher has become one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in Hollywood. His twisty psychological thrillers and engaging biopics have earned a total of 40 Oscar nominations, including three Best Director nods for himself.
Some of Fincher’s movies have stood the test of time, while others don’t hold up as well. Fight Club and Se7en warrant countless rewatches, but Alien 3 can barely withstand a single viewing, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is difficult to watch.
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11 Mank (2020)
Mank, Fincher’s most recent directorial effort, is one of his least thrilling movies. Released on Netflix, it tells the story of the writing of Citizen Kane, shot in the style of Citizen Kane.
Fincher’s direction is razor-sharp, Erik Messerschmidt’s Oscar-winning cinematography is crisp and stunning, and Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried give incredible performances. All it lacks is exciting subject matter.
10 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008)
Loosely adapted from the F. Scott Fitzgerald work of the same name, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a very sweet story. But it’s not very rewatchable. Impressive visual effects don’t quite make up for a taxing runtime pushing three hours.
Fincher regular Brad Pitt stars as a man who ages in reverse. Uncharacteristic of Fincher’s filmmaking, there are no mind games or serial killers or multiple personalities in Benjamin Button; just a very unconventional romance.
9 Alien 3 (1992)
Fincher made his directorial debut with Alien 3, but he infamously struggled against studio executives for creative control. In the threequel, Ripley is marooned on a prison planet. Alien 3 gets off on the wrong foot from the opening scene, as all the fan-favorite supporting characters from Aliens are killed off-screen.
The movie has some thrilling sequences and Fincher’s signature moody visuals, and it’s always a joy to see Sigourney Weaver in the role of Ellen Ripley. But Alien 3 is nowhere near as great as the first two masterpieces.
8 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
When Hollywood announced its own adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s uncompromisingly brutal crime novels, some fans suspected it would tone down the darkness. But Fincher’s big-budget take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is just as harrowing as the book itself.
Unfortunately, that’s precisely why it’s not very rewatchable. The violence is so horrifying and sustained that the movie is difficult to watch and therefore only warrants a couple of revisits.
7 Gone Girl (2014)
Although it’s a tense, thrilling, wildly entertaining movie, Fincher’s movie version of Gone Girl is let down by its overlong runtime. Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel and refused to cut any storylines.
Rosamund Pike gives a mesmerizing performance as Amy Elliott Dunne, while Ben Affleck leans into the hilarious awkwardness of her suspicious husband trying to save face in the public eye. The movie could’ve done with cutting 20 or so minutes from its runtime to maintain the momentum of the source material.
6 The Social Network (2010)
One of Fincher’s most critically acclaimed movies, The Social Network, tells the origin story of Facebook. While it’s an undeniably great movie, it’s not particularly rewatchable.
There are only so many times that legal proceedings over the rights to a website can be enjoyed. It helps that the script has the snappy, Oscar-winning dialogue of Aaron Sorkin.
5 The Game (1997)
While it’s one of Fincher’s least commercially successful films, The Game is worth revisiting a couple of times. Michael Douglas stars as a man who receives a mysterious gift from his younger brother, played by the equally brilliant Sean Penn. At first, this “gift” – a sinister game that integrates itself into his daily life in unexpected ways – doesn’t seem like much of a gift.
Since it’s built around a twist ending, rewatches of The Game are encouraged. The reveal doesn’t totally hold together, but the early scenes are full of hints and foreshadowing about the true nature of the titular game.
4 Zodiac (2007)
Although it didn’t make a huge splash at the box office, Zodiac is a gripping procedural about the quest to find a notoriously unidentified serial killer. It was widely praised for its historical accuracy.
Zodiac is a deep dive into one of the most compelling true-crime cases of all time, anchored by three terrific performances by future Marvel actors: Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, and Mark Ruffalo.
3 Panic Room (2002)
Fincher’s movies have always been heavily influenced by the work of Alfred Hitchcock, but Panic Room is arguably his most Hitchcockian movie. It has the high-concept premise of a mother and daughter hiding out in the eponymous panic room during a home invasion.
There’s never a dull moment in Panic Room as this mother and daughter are constantly faced with new obstacles and challenges. A parent’s struggle to keep their child safe is universally relatable, and Jodie Foster is phenomenal as always.
2 Se7en (1995)
A mixture of gruesome slasher and “buddy cop” movie, Se7en is a unique genre cocktail. With its police procedural storytelling, it’s one of the few horror films with a focus on engaging character work.
Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt share impeccable chemistry as a pair of mismatched detectives: the veteran on the brink of retirement and the young hotshot eager to crack his first case, respectively.
1 Fight Club (1999)
Although it received mixed reviews and bombed at the box office upon its initial release, Fight Club has since become one of the cornerstones of cult cinema. Fincher’s adaptation translates the manic energy of Chuck Palahniuk’s source novel to the screen.
Fight Club has rapid cuts and fast-paced montages with nonstop voiceover narration to tie everything together. It’s easily Fincher’s funniest movie, and thanks to its distinctively pitch-black sense of humor, it’s also one of his most shocking.
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About The Author
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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.
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