David Fincher has been hailed as a master of the thriller genre, but he is also noted for his meticulous attention to detail. However, he was also characterized as a wonderful, hilarious, and a terrific buddy by his coworkers and cast members.
However, don’t let any of that detract from his genius; this man is responsible for some of the greatest films of all time, including Gone Girl, Se7en, Zodiac, and The Social Network. Cinematography, lighting, plot structure, and music all play a role in Fincher’s distinctive style of filmmaking. Tracking shots, various plot twists and emotionally charged film music are all hallmarks of his work. As a result of his work with musicians and as a music video director, the latter has been polished over time.
Like Steven Spielberg’s most original and unforgettable films, Fincher has learned to rely on the same film composers to bring his vision to life. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross, who joined NIN in 2016 but has been working with him for the past two decades, are solely responsible for the previous four film scores that have gone on to become some of his best and most well-known works. Reznor once said, “Our role is to assist him in realizing his vision as best we can.”
It is important to realize that David Fincher’s films are not only gloomy in terms of lighting, but also in terms of topic and plot. A handful of his titles should be avoided by those who have a sensitive stomach, all of which will be detailed in the following film summaries. Even if you disagree with my rankings of all David Fincher films, I hope you like them.
11. Alien 3 (1992)
It was Fincher’s debut full-length picture and nearly terminated his career before it had even begun when he made Alien 3. Aliens (one of the greatest James Cameron films of all time) was followed by this film, which underperformed in more ways than they expected. Despite Fincher’s dislike of the material, he was overjoyed to be directing his first film in a “naive” style. He claimed to have “listened to the individuals who were paying for the movie” when they told him he should avoid working with his pals. After this he would work with individuals that respected and listened to him as an esteemed director, and he would not make this mistake again. Alien 3 isn’t the best film in any category, but it’s still a part of the sci-fi universe and should be seen by any lover of the franchise. To be fair to its subject matter, it’s nevertheless a good film, one that challenges conventional storytelling and foreshadows the greatness of David Fincher’s works in the years to come.
10. The Game (1997)
For those looking for a high-octane action thriller, this is an excellent choice. There are numerous storyline twists and gaps in The Game, which makes for an exciting trip with an outrageous conclusion. David Fincher is known for his love of plot twists, and this film is no exception. Fincher chose to helm this film even though he didn’t write the script. Knowing that this is his follow-up to Se7en makes you wonder what happened in the interim, yet every filmmaker once in a while takes on an ambitious project. That said, this film is a lot of fun and does precisely what it sets out to do: thrill and enthrall its audience. Michael Douglas’s performance in this gritty drama is what made it a success. Without him, it wouldn’t have. However, Fincher was swayed by the film’s initial concept, but it doesn’t quite measure up to his later efforts in terms of power.
9. Panic Room (2002)
While Panic Room is a well-known Fincher classic, it isn’t as as spectacular as his previous works. Jodie Foster, Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker, and Dwight Yoakam all excel in this film, but Fincher’s on-screen talent doesn’t always shine through if the content isn’t up to snuff – not to take credit away from their performances. If you don’t detect Fincher’s signatures, this film is just another thriller. It’s worth noting, though, that Fincher’s attention to detail was not lost in this film. That medical bag needed to slide over the floor and into the panic room properly, with a recorded 103 takes. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key for your next frightening movie night, this is a good choice.
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tells the story of a man who goes back in time and rewinds the hands of time. Beautiful and solemn, this film focuses on time and how precious it is, and it conveys these themes in a seamless way on the big screen. As he contemplates the time and happenings of the world, Button wonders if “coincidence” is to blame for so many of the “series of intersecting lives and occasions” that lead to both good and bad outcomes. Fincher, like usual, selects scripts that ask open-ended questions to the spectator, requiring the viewer to think and perplexing them to the point of exhaustion if they don’t. This film is brimming with dramatic talent, and it chronicles the character’s entire life and the people that influenced it. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett star as the supposedly cursed lovers in Fincher’s film, and both actors do an excellent job of portraying their roles. In addition, Brad Pitt’s timeless charm makes him an excellent fit for the role of a man in his twenties with wrinkles and graying hair.
7. Mank (2020)
“Have you heard the story of the monkey and the organ grinder?” For Fincher, Reznor, and Ross on the soundtrack, Mank is an adventurous spinoff worth the wait. Acclaimed and nominated for an astounding 10 Oscar categories, this is a remarkable film achievement. Old Hollywood politics, corruption, and debilitating alcoholism confront Herman J. “Mank” Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) in his attempt to finish the screenplay for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. If you’re not familiar with the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’ aristocracy, the fast-paced and brilliant language may cause some confusion. Prior to David Fincher’s Alien 3 debacle, Jack Fincher had already written the original screenplay. It was Fincher’s first film set power conflict that convinced him that Mank should focus on the idea of “forcing collaboration” rather than “what just felt like revenge.” An ambitious picture that surpasses all expectations and will be talked about for years to come, shot using a Helium Monochrome sensor in the style of legendary Orson Welles films.
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher’s follow-up to The Social Network, takes a morbid turn. This movie contains some unsettling and gory scenes, so be prepared. Let me be clear: The revenge is swift and just but the shock is undoubtedly darker than any Fincher film and many other films. This film’s standout feature is its original premise and stellar ensemble, all of which work together to elicit a lingering sense of dread. We’d love to see Daniel Craig, who’s enjoying a successful acting career while playing a character that’s far different from the James Bond we’ve come to know and love, leap into action. While Rooney Mara’s performance as a cold and calculating nemesis is terrifying, it somehow detracts from the chilling performance of Stellan Skarsgaard. May I have permission to murder him? Fincher collaborated with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for a haunting and evocative cinematic music in the second of four collaborations between the two.
5. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network, focusing on a well-known current story, revealed the intrigue around the founding of Facebook. The script for this film was written by Aaron Sorkin, based on Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires, however he has indicated that he had written about 80 pages before the book was released. Fincher was first drawn in by Sorkin’s writing, which introduced him to the most essential stories of the new age. As well as using his newfound relationship with Reznor and Ross, Fincher also tapped into his cooperation with Sorkin, securing an Oscar for best score and best adapted screenplay. In spite of its profundity and outrage, this film was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Facebook’s scandals. There have already been rumblings of a sequel to cover the previous two decades of madness.
4. Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club earns rave reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, making it the most culturally significant picture on this list. Following Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name, some dissatisfied and agitated young guys decide that kicking the crap out of one other is the best way to deal with their problems. Other than inciting social unrest among society’s dissatisfied young men (despite the story’s moral closure at the end), the movie includes some fantastic writing and a shocking twist finale that audiences will love. Fincher, Pitt, Norton, and Walker (Andrew Kevin Walker, the man behind Se7en’s screenplay) took a more spontaneous approach to this film’s screenplay adaptation. There’s also Brad Pitt in one of his best parts, reflecting on male social expectations and outlooks in a way that’s both repulsive and seductive. For better or worse, this movie will continue to be discussed for years to come, regardless of how you feel about it.
3. Gone Girl (2014)
As a possible female answer to the public response to David Fincher’s Fight Club, consider Gone Girl a Fincher picture. People were unsure if they should view this film as a feminist guidance or as another example of the patriarchy at its worst. The fact that this film is both stunning and remarkable is a testament to its brilliance. They’re both warped, but they introduce the audience to some fascinating ideas about how society may mold you into the person it wants you to be. When do you stop pretending to be someone you’re not in order to be accepted by others? My sister and I are very adorable. “I want to punch both of you.” It’s possible to catch glimpses of Amy’s true self if you look hard enough, she claims. In the end, it all boils down to the fact that everyone expects more from you than you are capable of, which is exhausting. Crazy things can happen as a result of it. Visually, this one offers a story that goes beyond the spoken word. Fincher’s third film with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross proves that music and imagery can assault the senses.
2. Zodiac (2007)
As one of the most historically accurate films of all time, Zodiac takes the 1970s cultural phenomenon and turns it into cinema gold. This film, which has been greatly underappreciated, goes into great detail in an effort to clear up all of the rumors and myths surrounding the case. In large part, Fincher and producer James Vanderbilt are to be credited for their extensive research into the different Zodiac cases and stories. Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his best portrayals) is a true-crime author who dedicated over a decade of his life to cracking the Zodiac case. This film, based on Graysmith’s book of the same name, really reopened the investigation because of its accuracy. Maintaining a consistent look, Fincher used low light and tilt angles to express the characters’ feelings in a way that does not detract from the numerous talented actors on film.
1. Se7en (1995)
When David Fincher takes the helm of this well-worn tale, it takes on a significantly darker tone. A classic young buck teams up with a veteran on the decline. Mills (Brad Pitt) and Somerset (Morgan Freeman) experience things even the days-from-retirement detective has never seen while investigating a serial killer fascinated with the seven deadly sins. Because it’s one of David Fincher’s greatest, it’s no surprise that it’s dark. It’s incredible how Fincher captures this subject by focusing – literally — on specific persons who are under tremendous stress. Using foreshadowing, the film masterfully conveys what may or may not happen on screen. A newbie to this film may have a hard time figuring out who and when to put the spotlight on. Second and third viewings reveal that the film’s tools are employed to create a visual story that almost completely eliminates the requirement for any verbal narration at all It’s amazing to see how quickly Fincher developed his own distinct aesthetic in his second major film, setting the tone for the rest of his career. One of the reasons this is the best David Fincher film ever is because of this. “Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘The world is a lovely place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.”