Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ranking Fincher's films

By Sati. Tuesday, September 30, 2014 ,
"Filmmaking isn’t if you can just strap on a camera onto an actor, and steadicam, and point it at their face, and follow them through the movie, that is not what moviemaking is, that is not what it’s about. It’s not just about getting a performance. It’s also about the psychology of the cinematic moment, and the psychology of the presentation of that, of that window."

Well, here we are guys, days before most of you get to see Gone Girl and about 2 weeks until I get to see it (no, seriously, fuck my life) we reached the end of my David Fincher Blog Event. Hopefully you guys liked the series and perhaps it even got you in the mood to watch or rewatch some of his movies.

Fincher, a guy who is nicknamed 'the prince of darkness', is for me the most talented director working right now. And hopefully through one of my lists it was also evident that this guy has a great sense of humour, a knowledge that may come quite handy when you realize just how many hilarious things there are in Gone Girl.

But don't worry, it's still dark, creepy and morally repugnant. Fincher you know and love.

With Gone Girl I may be looking at the new champion to this list but right now this is how I'd rank the films directed by Fincher so far:

(and Across the Universe podcast will have a very special podcast episode about Fincher next Wednesday, so make sure you listen to that one!)

9. Alien 3 - 40/100
While Fincher has completely detached himself from the movie, there is no denying he still figures as the director of it. While Alien 3, butchered by the studio who were at odds with Fincher every step of the way during the production, is not a good movie, there is still plenty to love in it - there's Weaver being fearless again, awesome design of the creature, Charles Dance in a supporting role and very dark ambiance of hopelessness and isolation.

And you gotta love that after Cameron turned one of the best horror franchises into silly action movie (I don't like Aliens, sue me) with the second film, Fincher single-handedly unmade all that happy ending crap...in opening credits.

8. Panic Room - 65/100
I was recently rewatching this one and all its flaws are even more evident now after I've seen newer Fincher's films - while right now he can be truly called the master of directing the movie and someone who really makes all the technology and inventive editing and camerawork work for him, in Panic Room it comes off as silly and insanely distracting. The camera acts like it's on acid and even the fun opening credits don't impress anymore. Add to that the story that is simply not very engaging and ridiculous characters of the robbers and you get a very mediocre movie.

But Jodie Foster is as usual reliable and it's nice that Kristen Stewart haters, who of course bash her without ever checking out any of her great roles in little known films, at least have this one movie  outside of Twilight they saw with her in it about which they can go 'well she wasn't bad here'.

7. The Game - 69/100

While The Game is one of those mindfuck movies that doesn't have a script strong and believable enough to support all those twists and turns, it's still very well directed, entertaining movie with several fantastic and unforgettable set pieces.

It's a rollercoaster ride, if that rollercoaster would occasionally threaten to collapse while you were on it, due to poor construction. The story could have been stronger but Deborah Kara Unger plays a one of Fincher's tough and awesome ladies so well and Michael Douglas is great as the lead of the film.

6. Zodiac - 80/100

Gasps all around. Look, it's a good movie. I know many of you place it at the top, but I can't understand you doing that as much as I'm sure many of you can't understand why I have what I have on number 1 of the list. Zodiac is a very well crafted film - it has great structure and despite its chronicle format it's never boring. Well, almost never boring.

It's Jake Gyllenhaal. This guy plays the most boring protagonist of all of Fincher's films and frankly it was just difficult for me to care once he becomes pretty much the sole focus of the movie in the third act. But up until that point it's all very good - there are fantastic supporting roles here - Ruffalo, Downey Jr and Elias Koteas are all wonderful but it's Anthony Edwards' good cop performance and especially John Carroll Lynch's movie stealing turn as the man who we cannot confirm that but he definitely is the Zodiac killer that is the film's most unforgettable aspect.

5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 88/100

This film gets tons of hate and ironically it's one of the two that got the most acclaim from Academy. While it's not perfect - Pitt and Blanchett really could put a bit more heart into this one considering how their characters are supposed to be the the heart of the film - the film is a beautiful chronicle of what life is and what makes our lives so beautiful and tragic.

A sorta anti-Forrest Gump, Button lives his extraordinary life somewhere close but never in the centre of historical events. And while his aging in reverse life may be one of a kind, his experiences - those of love, loss, tragedy and adventure - are universal. I never thought a man of such surgical precision as Fincher can make a movie that is this profoundly moving and sentimental, but in a good sense of the word.

4. The Social Network - 93/100

While The Social Network is not the kind of story I usually like - young entitled rich people getting even more entitled and richer - this is perhaps the most exquisitely directed movie I've seen in my entire life. It moves so fast yet so patiently, slithers through events carefully, introduces characters, meditates on their decisions only to suddenly explode with rage and heartbreak. And all of that accompanied by insanely well written lines and groundbreaking score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

With this movie Fincher got a new audience. All those teenagers who now call him his favorite director. All those kids who shared how much they loved the movie about Facebook on the actual Facebook. It's also the first of the intensely clinically, meticulously done movies Fincher has made that opened a whole new chapter in his filmography.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 94/100
While it gets so much unfair criticism and bad rep I loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The first adaptation of the novel, for me, has absolutely nothing on this one. Fincher's version of the tale of two good people surrounded by the hordes of evil in modern world is amazingly well crafted and it features a terrific ensemble, the funniest use of music in any of his films and so far (but not for long) the fiercest heroine of his films.

The film for me is much more of a romance than Benjamin Button was - there is absolutely no chemistry in Fincher's only straight up drama film - but here Craig and Mara are both excellent, creating two wonderful performances and unforgettable characters.

2. Fight Club - 98/100

Fight Club is probably the film with the best plot twist I've seen. I still remember watching it for the first time all those years ago, my jaw dropping to the floor during the big reveal scene. But Fight Club is so much more - it's one of those rare movies that are better than the books they are based on and even more amazingly - one of those very few movies that capture the entire generation. The Social Network did it for those of us growing up in Facebook era, but before that Fincher managed to do that with this one - the frustration, depression and the broken dreams of young adults in the 90's, stuck in rat race, luiving day by day, never really accomplishing what they wanted to.

It's a timeless tale really and Fincher's masterful direction of the movie is what makes it bulletproof to the threat of ever becoming outdated. With insanely quotable lines, frantic, energetic pace and unforgettable performances, Fight Club is one of those movies the overwhelming majority of movie fans simply adores.

1. Se7en - 99/100

Fincher is the only director to have two movies in my top 10 of all time and it's really not a surprise. Se7en for me it's one of those movies you simply have to know when you love films. It's pure classic and one of the most influential movies ever made. Every single cop chases killer thriller released after wouldn't be the same without that movie.

20 years after being made the film still astonishes with the story, performances and even with its surprises as even today the film's shocking ending remains so uniquely dark and uncompromising. It's a masterpiece.

Other posts in David Fincher Blog Event:


48 comments:

  1. Great list and events. Though I love Woody and Tarantino more, Fincher is definitely a god when it comes to cinema for me. Fight Club, TSN and Se7en are in my top 30 of all time, though I also really love TGWTDT (better than the book and the Swedish one) and greatly respect Zodiac. I've seen the others only once so I can't say much about them.
    I can't wait for Gone Girl. I think it has so many elements of his previous films in it (unique female protag like Lisbeth, the whole bts stuff like Se7en and Zodiac, the twist like Fight Club and so on). It will be something so special.

    And thanks for the link again!!

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    1. Thanks! I think that about Gone Girl too - it's just a perfect material for him. i read this review that suggested Bigelow should directed - that would be so terrible. I'm sure she would find a way to make even that story boring.

      No problem, can't wait to listen to it!

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  2. For me so far,

    1. The Social Network
    2. Se7en
    3. Zodiac
    4. The Game
    5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    7. Panic Room
    8. Alien 3

    The ones I haven't seen are Fight Club and the director's cut of Zodiac while I hope to see Gone Girl this weekend.

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    1. You haven't seen Fight Club?! Man, get on that! :)

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  3. I loved all of your Fincher coverage! He's one of my favorite working directors too. Se7en would be at the top of my list too. Followed by The Social Network, Fight Club, Then Zodiac. I didn't get to be surprised by Fight Club's reveal, my friends ruined it for me right before we started watching it.

    I do hate Benjamin Button though, that's the only time I've ever wanted to punch Fincher.

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    1. Thank you! They ruined it? I hope you got them back, big time! :)

      Yeah it's an odd movie for Fincher to make, for sure.

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  4. This month has been great to follow! Thanks for keeping us all Fincher-informed.

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    1. Thanks for reading and stepping by! :)

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  5. Great list. You have Zodiac about where I would and for the same reasons. Acts 1 & 2: Great! Act 3: Zzzzzzz. And regardless of how the rest of it plays out, you have the one and only correct answer for #1.

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    1. Zodiac's 3rd act is really were it all fell apart for me. I just couldn't care less about the protagonist.

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  6. Fincher is definitely one of the best directors of his generation. I don't think there are many directors that would bring people to theaters regardless of everything else about their films - purely based on 'Directed By XXXX' and Fincher is definitely one of them.

    Our lists differ a bit though. I am one of those 5 people on earth who don't care much about Fight Club. I like it but don't think it is the best thing made ever. And I love everything about The Game and even Zodiac, though I have seen Zodiac only once. Se7en, on the other hand, would easily top my list as well.

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    1. That is a very good point. When I told my friend we have to see gone Girl all I had to say was 'it's a new Fincher movie!' and now he cannot wait.

      Glad to read Se7en is your number one too!

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  7. I would probably switch around Fight Club and Se7en for the two top spots. Benjamin Button, Dragon Tattoo and Social Network I've only seen once, so my opinion is not fully settled yet. The end of Alien3 stayed with me, the rest of the film was a mess, strangely I don't mind rewatching though!
    Zodiac became less interesting to me on rewatch, and same goes for The Game and Panic Room. I recall back in 2002 that Panic Room was a letdown, his previous film was the masterpiece Fight Club, so there were just impossible expectations to live up to. I tend to love Fincher's work especially on first viewing. I didn't know about the upcoming podcast, thanks for the info!

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    1. Yeah Panic Room just keeps getting worse and worse. All that pointless gimmickry is hugely annoying and even more so with subsequent viewings.

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  8. I've only seen some of Fincher's work, but they've been great. Compared to his other films, Benjamin Button seems like the odd man out. Se7en was fantastic, I was left stunned after watching the film!

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    1. I'm still very surprised he made something like Benjamin Button. I'm so glad you liked Se7en this much!

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  9. Such an amazing event here on Cinematic Corner! You did great with all of this Sati! Personally, I'd rank his films as so:

    1) The Social Network
    2) Fight Club
    3) Se7en
    4) Zodiac
    5) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    gap
    6) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    7) Panic Room
    gap
    8) Alien 3
    gap
    9) The Game

    I agree with you, that Fincher is probably the best director working right now. I love his style and the way that he crafts a film, technically, has no equal. He really knows what he's doing. I have a feeling that Gone Girl is going to be one of his best efforts. The reviews are GLOWING!

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    1. I'm really bouncing off the walls waiting for Gone Girl. I hope you guys all review it so I have something to read while I wait to see it :P

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  10. I absolutely loved your event! It is truly amazing, and your posts have always been great :) My personal ranking of the cinematic god David Fincher's films would be:

    1. Se7en
    2. The Social Network
    3. Zodiac
    4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    5. Fight Club
    6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    7. The Game
    8. Alien 3

    I predict Gone Girl will be just below TSN :) And the reviews are all spectacular, so my excitement for it has increased by a lot! I know it must be so tough to have to wait longer to see it than others, but I actually envy you since at least you know that it will come out in cinemas where you live. Where I live, I'm not even sure if it will even be released in cinemas :'(

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    1. I completely forgot about Panic Room! I'd put it just after The Game.

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    2. Thank you so much! God there are places where it may not be released?! This is just madness, it's 2014 we really should be getting worldwide releases by now.

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    3. Yeah I know :/ It is just that where I live, most people would rather see the new generic action movie than a film like Gone Girl :/ Which isn't to say that all action movies are bad, because they aren't. I would be so happy if they did release it in cinemas here :) I'm still hoping that they will!

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    4. I hope so too, I mean it's a number one movie in most countries now so hopefully that will influence them to expend the release to other countires

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  11. I somehow find myself rewatching Dragon Tattoo the most often, and I can't even explain why. It surely isn't the best Fincher movie, but every winter I'm drawn to that bleak and icy atmosphere and the more I watch it, the more I enjoy it. A quality I can certify almost any Fincher movie (except Benjamin Button maybe).

    I guess it's the perfectionism. I'm equally fascinated by his films as a film-fan who loves movie magic and also as a film-nerd who wants to know EVERYTHING about the making of process. His films combine it all and one can only gape at the technical brilliance unfolding before one's eyes. That's also the main reason why I'm looking forward to Gone Girl so hard.

    But I wish Fincher would start to conquer new grounds soon. The clinical execution of his directing job may be fascinating to watch, but since TSN he is treading water. resting in comfort zone.

    Why not do a Sci-Fi comedy?
    Or another franchise entry (James Bond anyone?)
    Or something fantastical like the Captain Nemo which unfortunately didn't come to life.

    Even at the risk of getting another Benjamin Button - a movie I certainly enjoy, but not adore - I want something new from him. I wanna be surprised and shocked like I have been when I saw Fight Club for the first time.

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    1. I heard Gone Girl is made flawlessly, even the opening credits are said to be simple but fascinating.

      I think it's great he has his own style, the man really knows how to make great thrillers and gripping movies....there are so few good thrillers being made now so I'm really thankful for his films.

      Gone Girl may surprise you - some call it dark comedy even, it certainly looks like the movie with the biggest dose of humor from him.

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    2. The opening credits indeed were pretty simplistic for a Fincher movie. But at the same time the sound design was amazing (just like in Dragon Tattoo).

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    3. Well I'll see next Saturday at the earliest but I'm sure I'll like it :)

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  12. You'll get no arguments from me! Se7en is definitely my favourite Fincher film and probably one of my favourite films, full stop. Alien 3 though. Awful film.

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    1. Awesome to see such love for Se7en! alien 3 has some good things in it, but yeah it's a mess.

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  13. Oh man, two weeks before you get to see Gone Girl?! I'm so sorry Sati, I hate all the different release dates, wish a film can open on the same day worldwide!

    Wow that is a GREAT quote from Fincher. I especially like the term 'the psychology of the cinematic moment' He totally gets it, directing is SO much more than just getting a performance out of an actor or capturing a certain scenery. Interesting that you have the same #1 pick as my friend Ted. I can't rank his work yet as there are two major ones I haven't seen, but for now I think Se7en, Fight Club and Social Network would make my top 3.

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    1. Well I could see the movie this weekend but my exam is on Tuesday so that chance is shot to shit :/

      So awesome that we share two in top 3! Se7en is just amazing. Which one you didn't see other than Dragon Tattoo?

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  14. THANK YOU! Finally someone who shares my opinion on Zodiac. I watched it for the first time this week, and while it was good, it wasn't great. I wouldn't put it at my number one slot whatsoever. And I praise you for putting Se7en at number one. We're in complete agreement there :) Great post!

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    1. I am just so seriously baffled at the love for it. Especially when people say it's better than Se7en. Just...how? I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but this is one of the opinions I cannot even begin to understand.

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  15. I don't know what it is about Se7en, I just find it to be…good. I do need to rewatch it though.
    Great list though! I think my favourite of his is The Social Network.

    Looking forward to see where Gone Girl ranks on this list!

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    1. Yeah I'm looking forward to this too, high hopes as I relate to Amy more than to characters in other movies by Fincher.

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  16. Awesome list from one Fincher fan to another! Fight Club and Se7en are at the top of my list too. I've started on the first few chapters of Gone Girl and I'm really debating if I should just watch the movie now or wait until I'm done with the book which will take some time.

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    1. Thanks! I think you should see the film and then explore the characters further by reading the book :)

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  17. Awesome list! I'm not even sure how I'd rank my favorites. Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of those movies I question why I own it on dvd, and then when I catch it on television, I'm like, Ohhh yeah, it's pretty good; could've been a bit stronger but definitely not terrible.

    Can I ask what is the one point marked off of Se7en? Just curious! :D

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    1. Thanks! Well most movies get one point less because they are not Black Swan :) But with Se7en I thought Doe's end game was weirdly small - a self proclaimed messenger of God settling for ruining ONE cop's life? I expected something grander in scale.

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  18. For me the top 3 are Fight Club, Zodiac and Se7en and I've come to appriciate TGWTDT more over these past few years and after rewatching it due to your Fincher blog event.. so I'd say it's fourth.
    Gone Girl will probably aim for top 3 though...

    Thanks for the event btw, it was awesome! :)

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    1. So glad you liked it! I'll probably like GG more than DT, but I'm not so sure about the two top places - GG suits me a bit more, story-wise, I love the soundtrack, I already love Amy....the themes are kinda more to my liking than se7en and FC but god, these two are just such amazing films

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  19. Fun write up. I have always been mixed on Fincher. Some of his stuff I really like. Se7en easily tops my list. Also liked The Social Network and Zodiac. Other films of his hasn't worked for me. I really don't care for Fight Club at all. I also didn't care for Benjamin Button or the Dragon Tattoo remake.

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    1. Thanks! Well I'm glad you liked Se7en the most I'm always stunned when it's not people's favorite :)

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  20. Congrats on an amazing blog series! LOVE this list. It's nice to see Benjamin Button get such a high score. It's flawed, but I like it a lot. And my top 2 would be the same. I'm not sure Fincher will ever top Se7en and Fight Club.

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    1. Thank you! I don't think he will top Se7en either, kinda like Tarantino with Pulp Fiction

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  21. Zodiac was so haunting to me, as a vision of America that could never be certain again. It works so well, in spite of the common takeaway: why does it work, even though Gyllenhaal is at center and rather a bore? After he started to get interesting in the last 4 years, what I could piece together:

    1) He got lost in the studio shuffle, after decent start in the indies.

    2) So if it's a sympathetic director like Ang Lee, JG's rather undisciplined, wiry approach driven more by passion than a confident process to control his talent (no jokes about the amount he has:D) - which Ledger already had early on - could grow more, than if he met a Fincher.

    2b) It's not until meeting Denis Villeneuve, JG would find his kindred spirit open enough to improvise with JG - to the point both grew together. It appears few directors shared a process with JG, who's mostly used as an actor-for-hire until Villeneuve.

    3) Fincher discarded all of JG's improvisation (except what he found funny: a tiny line JG added about Graysmith only smoking once, in high school), broke down the actor through many takes, or filmed Graysmith on a fever only if JG actually had one too. All these contradicted JG's process preparing for the role: close observation of the real Graysmith's personality quirks under a normal appearance (just like Mark could do with his police counterpart; RDJ obviously took more liberty with his more RDJ-flair performance.)

    4) JG's account has been, he carried a sort of dark overcast from the Zodiac experience (Fincher even said he's the one who can sleep at night; i.e. he won the ultimate control over JG's performance.) Fincher required him to carry the story but not imbue the character with what he took from observing Graysmith, only to emerge with his descent into obsession more obviously toward the end. From audience point of view, it makes sense Mark and RDJ who represent American institutions, stand firm in their performances. Their confidence (or RDJ's tiny arc of descent) going nowhere fast with solving the case, makes Zodiac even more elusive.

    JG's sort of the thankless "guy moving things along", because Fincher didn't see Graysmith as embodying America - he was just a small piece of the puzzle, a momentum of persistence. His personality (real life Graysmith is an oddball!) was immaterial to a "painting" Fincher wanted of America, and everything in Zodiac is as Fincher demanded it to be (an auteur lording over his ensemble.)

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  22. So what is your top 10 favorite films?

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    1. http://cinematiccorner.blogspot.com/p/favorite-films.html

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