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All 10 David Fincher Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

22 June 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Luc Hinrichsen

“People are perverts… that’s pretty much been the basis of my career, anyway.” This quote by American director David Fincher perfectly sums up his oeuvre.

In his movies, he thematizes the darkest places of human abysses and perverted behavior in morbid societies. Few directors have such a strong vision and cinematic trademark as him, which makes a ranking of his productions especially difficult and tight.

 

10. Alien 3 (1992)

Alien 3 (1992)

It couldn’t be a surprise that David Fincher’s feature length debut holds the list’s lowest spot. Much has been written about the unacceptable circumstances during production, with numerous and rapid script changes and the disagreements between the filmmakers and studio heads. With regards to all these production-imperiling obstacles, the movie isn’t as bad as it could’ve been.

However, it’s disputable whether the ‘Alien’ saga needed and still needs (regarding the release of this years “Alien: Covenant”) this many contributions. But that’s the way Hollywood works. While watching the film, it’s impossible to get rid of the feeling that we’re watching a lukewarm B-movie, vainly trying to continue the franchise’s glory while also failing to grab the audience’s attention over two hours.

As well as the director distanced himself from “Alien 3”, it is senseless to write more about the movie’s quality. After watching, the film should be classified as being noticed and sorted in the infinite memory of cinema history without looking at it more often than necessary.

 

9. Panic Room (2002)

Panic Room (2002)

Fincher’s fifth feature film is a thrilling intimate play starring Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto. Following her divorce, Meg Altman purchases a new home with her daughter. The built-in panic room proves beneficial while three money-hungry intruders invade the house by night in order to snare a rewarding prey. But as chance would have it, the stash is right under the panic room’s floor with the two frightened women inside.

The movie offers some fine pieces of cinematographic skill with a load of interesting tracking shots and the Fincher-generic gritty atmosphere. But regarding the lack of protagonists’ depth, “Panic Room” fails to achieve an outlasting relevance as the other movies in the director’s catalogue.

It’s definitely not a bad movie, but rather an entertaining approach on popcorn movies. But while a lot of Fincher’s films impress with their strong meaning and often psychological approach on both the narrative and the audiovisual layer, “Panic Room” misses the chance of going beyond the simple purpose of entertaining.

 

8. The Game (1997)

“The Game” follows a ruthless businessman who gets an invitation to an enigmatic game as his brother’s birthday present. Reluctantly he reacts to it and finds himself in a reality-twisting game full of danger and plaguing unknowingness.

Following his commercial success “Se7en”, “The Game” entered the stage in order to improve on this success. In terms of box office returns, the movie barely could make the grade. But in relation to the cinematic and narrative quality of Fincher’s previous film, “The Game” definitely couldn’t win the race.

Quite like “Panic Room”, this movie absolutely follows a more entertaining approach, but with a bit more contentual depth. Nonetheless, the film is one of Fincher’s weaker productions regarding its highly constructed ending and some noteworthy plot holes.

Respectively, the main points of criticism have its roots in the screenplay, not in the audiovisual realization. The dark and menacing cinematography perfectly fits the story’s tone and guides the audience within the coherent and catchy world of the movie. Despite that, Michael Douglas could embody the cold and reserved entrepreneur in a very plausible way, making the movie a well-entertaining pastime.

 

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This movie might be Fincher’s most sentimental, as well as his most classical approach on Hollywood storytelling. That’s not meant to be negative, but while most of Fincher’s other movies win over its unconventional and often shocking vibe, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“ doesn’t feel this stunning regarding its narrative structure.

Honored with Oscars for Best Achievement in Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects, the movie’s images are impressive (although there are better ones in Fincher’s oeuvre). In any case, Fincher is an expert in the subtle use of CGI. All of his films are full of invisible VFX shots (“The Social Network”, for example, contains more digital shots than Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla”), with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“ belonging to the podium with its visualization of a massively aged Brad Pitt.

It’s definitely a solidly-made movie deserving its recognition (even if 13 Oscar nominations seem a bit overzealous), but with its length of more than two and a half hours, the movie couldn’t belie its weaknesses.

From time to time, the love story seems a bit cheesy and Fincher couldn’t establish an atmosphere as hauntingly as his darker movies did (even if the awarded production design team did a first-class job). Although, Pitt’s performance is on point and the movie gives some thought-provoking impulses on death and aging in general.

 

6. Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl (2014)

Fincher’s most recent movie, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, is a psycho-cinematic approach on illustrating disturbing incidents inside a superficially well-working marriage, with the wife suddenly disappearing and her husband slowly shifting into the police’s focus as the chief suspect.

The movie could trump with an excellent soundtrack (it’s the third collaboration with Nine Inch Nails masterminds Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and as usual, Fincher’s unmistakable aesthetic creates a dark vision of an American suburb and veiled chasms of fake-faced middle class societies (legitimately some subtle Lynch-connections might come to mind).

As proven in some of his previous productions, Fincher is a master of timing. He (and of course his screenwriter) truly knows when to show the audience a cinematographic hint or a plot-changing twist in order to enhance the suspense.

With “Gone Girl”, he creates a movie that takes turns in its narrative more than once. But while some of Fincher’s other movies have highly stunning climaxes with a huge factor of disturbance working as perfect finalizations inside the narrative’s arc of suspense, the ending of “Gone Girl” can’t afford that impact, simply because the movie already offered some well-working plot twists with the ending being incapable of surpassing them.

 

 

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  • I have no problems with this list though it’s hard to create a definitive list on Fincher since everyone has their own preferences for his work. My list is a bit more eccentric though I think it’s obvious Alien 3 is his worst.

  • Zwei

    Se7en has not aged well

  • YRy El Yadari

    Glad to see Zodiac high on the list, but for me Fight Club should be on top.

  • Mortimer

    The Social Network should be placed higher. Apart from that, I have no complaints.

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      More people shoul realize that about dragon tattoo

      • Mortimer

        Not only Dragon Tattoo but The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) as well. Many more examples.

  • Ricardo Monteiro

    I usually do not comment but this is too much. To put an amazing movie like Alien 3 as the worst Fincher directed is just insane!

    • Alex Gaginsky

      It’s a movie even its director disowned.

      • Ricardo Monteiro

        Sory I didn’t get it

        • Alex Gaginsky

          What didn’t you get? David Fincher disowned Alien 3. He agrees himself it was a bad movie. Not the movie he was going to make.

          • Ricardo Monteiro

            Ok I get it now. It is just English isn’t my mother tongue and some expressions are hard to get. Well, if that happened then he got a wonderful movie by accident. The movie has everything to love (in my opinion). First of all, it kills all the characters of the 2nd episode (which I found not too bad but certainly too mainstream), which I found as a wonderful start. Then the planet, the cult, the homogeneous characters are amazing. The fact there were no weapons made it more organic and closer to the alien. The alien coming from a dog made it also different. The analogy of Ripley giving her life for the sake of humanity falling in a cross shape to the “Haades” is just amazing. It is my opinion that 8th passenger and this Fincher episode are certainly the best Aliens. But again, this is just my opinion.

  • Abhishek

    So gone girl is better than Benjamin and Gragon s better than neetwork. Get outta here!

  • Stelios Zesiades

    Pretty hard to rank his movies except the obvious no.10 but my list would be something like:

    10. Alien 3
    9. Curious case of Benjamin Button
    8. Panic Room
    7. The Game
    6. Girl with the dragon tattoo
    5. Se7en
    4. Fight Club
    3. Zodiac
    2. The social network
    1. Gone girl

    IMO the last two are elevated by their soundtracks and their script, while I think his most well directed movies are Zodiac and Fight Club.

  • Martin Tribunsen

    “The Social Network” is the solid number 3!!