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Friday, October 3, 2014

The David Fincher Lists

With his tenth directorial feature, Gone Girl, hitting theaters today, David Fincher is a name and director you should know. I love the fact that when you turn on one of his films, you can almost instantly tell it's from his world: the blue and green color tints, the low key lighting, and the low angles. He cut his teeth making many classic music videos, leading others (*cough* Michael Bay) to imitate his work. He then proceeded to conquer Hollywood with a basically spotless record of hit after hit and two Oscar nominations for directing.

When Fincher is at his best he's tough to beat, so we ranked all of his features with . . .

The David Fincher Lists

Chris's List

9 – Alien³ (1992)

8 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

7 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Let's start with the bottom three . . . I actually don't hate any of these films, but I don't particularly care for any of them either. Alien³ isn't bad for a music-video-director-turned-first-time-film-director in over his head with a big franchise and bad script. Dragon Tattoo was a disappointment and derivative of his previous work. While Benjamin Button is a heavily flawed and overlong Forrest Gump remake that is beautifully shot and has only a few really great moments. 

6 – The Game (1997)

5 – Panic Room (2002)

4 – Fight Club (1999)

I always lump these three together in the Fincher filmography – films #4, 5, and 6 for him. I really like all of them (Panic Room & Fight Club could have flip-flopped too). The Game is a sharp example of a filmmaker really coming into his own. Panic Room is a taut and clever thriller. And Fight Club is a sly, but dated deconstruction of modern society and masculinity almost weighed down now by its immense cult status.

3 – Seven (1994)

Now we are getting to the really great stuff of Fincher’s career. This is a truly fantastic, grisly neo-noir armed with an enthralling and disturbing plot, career-defining performances from its three stars (Pitt, Freeman, and Spacey), and a grimy, scum-of-the-Earth look and feel that just gives you the creeps watching it.

2 – Zodiac (2007)

Fincher is a master of the moody, tense serial killer/detective drama, as he more than proved again over decade after Seven, with Zodiac, an even better entry into the overcrowded genre. The film’s opening and the scene with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in the basement are utterly fantastic. Top notch performances from Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo, Downey Jr., and John Carroll Lynch.

1 – The Social Network (2010)

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers and other major critics called The Social Network “the film of a generation” and one that “defines the decade.” Now while that may be pushing it a tad far by attempting to quantify something that cannot really by judged in those terms, I can see where they are going with it - beyond creating buzzworthy grabs for the movie’s poster. The film really is epic, beautifully written, directed, edited, and scored, and full of surprisingly terrific performances. Fincher himself likened the film to a modern-day Citizen Kane, which is also a lofty, but apt comparison.

Dan's List

N/A. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Somehow I never saw this movie!
Well not entirely true, I saw most of it on TV and wasn't impressed.
However, I can't pass a final judgement without seeing the entire product.
Also, I'm pretty sure I own it on DVD so that's just sheer apathy on my part.

8. Panic Room
I straight up loathe Panic Room.
Saw it in the theater expecting a "taught and clever thriller," as Chris just proclaimed.
And instead got a meandering bore-fest leading me to spew hate speech about it ever since.
Chris saying that it could have been #4 on his list makes me question our friendship.
If Forrest Whitaker can't make me like it, shut it down.
By far Fincher's worst flick.

7. Zodiac
Can't imagine how much this ranking will infuriate Chris.
He's such a Zodiac Fan Boy.
Saw it once and thought it was completely forgettable.
Never picked up on the "genius" parts I guess.
I've been promising Chris that'd I'll give it a second viewing/chance, but I've been saying that for five years. No but seriously Chris, I'll watch it again (no I won't).

6. Alien³ 
Why is The Alien Trilogy so terribly underrated in film history?
Empire put The Bourne Trilogy six spots ahead of it on their all time list.
Alien is obviously incredible.
Aliens is a bad ass James Cameron action flick.
And then we have Fincher's: it's darker and nastier and a very respectable directorial debut.
"You look tired Pam" over Ripley dominating?

 5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The series was absolutely perfect for Fincher.
It's a shame that the business side of Hollywood got in the way of the entire trilogy happening.
I would love to see his version of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest.
Dragon Tattoo was legit and had one of the best opening title sequences in years.

4. The Game
One of the most underrated films of the late 90s.
How good is this film?
Well they came up with nine taglines for it, so you know it's gotta be amazing!
My favorite and obviously one of the worst taglines in history:
The object of the game is to discover the object of . . . The Game

3. Seven
David Fincher, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey.
Today, on paper, that's an absolute homerun, but in 1995, none of them had achieved even a tenth of the fame they have currently. Fincher was best known for directing music videos, Freeman was mostly a supporting actor, Pitt was just "that guy from Legends Of The Fall" and Kevin Spacey was on the verge of becoming a mega star. The Usual Suspects was out for a month before Seven, but it made less than a quarter of the money. After this film all four of these guys became industry giants and have not looked back.

2. Fight Club
The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.

1. The Social Network
A perfect film and the David Fincher film.
As I type this, I'm walking over to pick it off the shelf and put it on.
The combination of Fincher, Aaron Sorkin and The Cast was exactly why I go to the movies:
To see great filmmakers, writers, and actors produce an exciting, unique experience.
It made the Final 4 of our Best Films From 2000 To Now, losing to the overall winner.
It's a great one to watch again and again with that being said . . .


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