Few filmmakers have the hardcore fanbase that David Fincher does. With Mank reviews hitting today, what better time is there to look back on the movies of Fincher’s career? Below you’ll see my ranking of his works, though for those only concerned about Mank, it’ll be understandable if you just skip there. I’d urge you to look at the full list, as it’s now eleven deep and has some below the radar (if that’s possible) titles within it. Take a look and get set for Mank to be a movie that potentially blows your mind when it releases in a few weeks.
Here now is how I would rank Fincher’s films:
11. Alien 3 – Even though it’s the least of his career, it’s still a decent Alien film and hints at the David Fincher greatness that was to come later. Special note…if you do revisit this one, there isn’t a director’s cut, but there’s an alternate version that seems to include more of his vision. That’s the one to seek out, in particular.
10. The Game – Fincher has a lot of fun with a real high concept, though to some degree it’s a case of style over substance. As an exercise in tension, it’s top notch, if not on the level of what else he’s capable. It’s one of his more throwaway flicks, but still well worth watching.
9. Panic Room – Much like The Game (and especially Alien 3), this one is a cut below the rest of what’s to come. Showcasing technical prowess and intensity, as well as claustrophobia, there’s little not to like here. You just know Fincher is capable of more, and would seen deliver on that promise.
8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Fincher doing a remake seemed like a waste of time, but he managed to elevate The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The fact that this came so close to a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars should tell you something here. Something decidedly not up the Academy’s alley nearly powered itself to nominations, solely on the strength of Fincher’s vision.
7. Zodiac – While most love this one more than I do, it’s still impeccably acted. This one just waned a bit for me as it went on, losing some of its momentum. However, I fully concede that a revisiting of it could shoot it up the rankings, so add an asterisk here if you so desire. Even if I have it out of the top five, it’s only due to how good what’s to come from him truly is…
6. Gone Girl – There’s a devilish sense of fun here, which translates a beach read into a prestige mystery/thriller from a master. Doing his best Alfred Hitchcock, Fincher may have enjoyed this production more than almost any other, and it shows. As highly re-watchable as anything he’s done, it holds up as a truly nasty yet utterly compelling work.
5. Se7en – The darkest thing Fincher has ever done, it started up Fincher’s predilection to brilliantly depicting the worst of society. The nihilism that can seep into his work certainly is here, but it’s so creative and so narratively propulsive, it works best as a finely tuned thrill ride. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac tackle serial killers as well, but this is the crowning achievement of that topic, at least from Fincher.
4. Mank – David Fincher’s newest work is rather great. For those wondering, this was my tweet when the embargo lifted on the film: “Mank is another technical marvel from David Fincher, aping Old Hollywood ways in a manner that’s somewhere between critique and homage. The cast is top notch, with Amanda Seyfried my personal favorite. Plus, there’s a very modern subplot involving elections and fake news that resonates in a way the late Jack Fincher never could have anticipated. As expected, it’s an Oscar player, across the board.” You soon see why I’m so high on it…
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – A sense of hope from Fincher? This is one film I like a lot more than most, when it comes to Fincher, but watching him stretch as a director, especially tonally, was a joy to witness. The emotion he brings out here, especially towards the end, is monumental. While it could have just been shameless Oscar bait, it instead became something genuinely moving.
2. Fight Club – For some, this is the height of Fincher, and while it’s a runner up for me, it’s still absolutely amazing and one of the best book adaptations ever. Even before Mank featured changeovers, this anarchist gem showcased it as well, albeit with a darker twist. Even if a few bad apples have championed this one for the wrong reasons, it’s a really magnificent movie, from top to bottom!
1. The Social Network – David Fincher’s best, plain and simple. Alongside the genius that is Aaron Sorkin, Fincher crafts a timely and timeless classic. I’ve raved about this one several times before, so I’ll simply reiterate that it’s a perfect film. It remains a crime that it came up short in Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards. Nothing beats it, and rightly so…
Stay tuned for more on Mank!