He may have just turned 56, but this director is showing no signs of slowing down.
At this point in his career, it’s hard to argue that many directors have accomplished as much as Fincher has, in as many different fields as he has, in such little time. Whether it be his first cinematic credit as a visual effects artist for Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), or the host of killer music videos he’s made for top-notch artists, or his work on Netflix shows like House of Cards or Mindhunter, or any of the 10 feature-length films he’s directed, nothing he’s made has been anything short of excellent. He’s a filmmaker that settles for nothing less than perfection, paying close attention to details that other directors might never even think twice about, and the consistently elite quality of his films shows it. With a filmography in which every movie is as good as the next, it’s almost impossible to pick our favorites…but we’re going to give it a shot.
Here are DIFF’s picks for David Fincher’s top five films.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
After the overwhelming success of Stieg Larsson’s novel and Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish version of the film, Fincher took on a tall task in adapting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to the big screen for American audiences — and he delivered. Fincher took an unflinching and often horrifying look at a story and character that had been already been examined twice over, while still managing to give us a fresh look at Lisbeth Salander. The only thing that could make this movie any better, is if we could get more sequels to go with it!
4. Zodiac (2007)
Have you ever seen a film so good that it causes one of America’s most notorious, unsolved serial killer cases to be reopened years after its closing? Neither had we until Fincher did it with Zodiac. With the help of a killer cast lead by Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, and Mark Ruffalo, Fincher gave us one of the best murder mysteries of all time, and did so while focusing on the journalistic aspect of the case. Only he could have made this possible, and thankfully, he did. Unfortunately, though, we’ll never be able to listen to Hurdy Gurdy Man the same way again.
3. Se7en (1995)
While Se7en may not have been received overwhelmingly positively when it was originally released, it has come to be cemented as one of the greatest thrillers of all time over the years, with Roger Ebert even naming it as one of the 300 greatest films of all time. If you’re like us, you probably still have nightmares of Brad Pitt desperately asking, “What’s in the box!?” and are definitely haunted by the last line from Morgan Freeman’s character, William Somerset. After they thought the ending of the film was too dark for audiences, the producers insisted that Detective Somerset say something to lighten the mood. So, as the film closes, his voice over proclaims, “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.” Wait, how is that supposed to be uplifting?
2. The Social Network (2010)
Fincher. Sorkin. Reznor. Eisenberg. Garfield. Hammer. All at their best. Need I say more?
Honestly, no, but this film is just too good for its greatness not to be overly justified any time it comes up. It may have only taken home three Oscars, but The Social Network is one of the most widely adored films by critics and fans this side of the 21st century, and it will undeniably be a cornerstone of future film studies classes a few years down the road. For better or worse, this may go down as the most solid film Fincher ever makes top to bottom.
1. Fight Club (1999)
Sorry, but we can’t talk about it. So stop reading this and just go watch it.