The *True* Cinephile’s Ranking Of David Fincher Films

Senior Editor
10.07.14 83 Comments

A lot of people like to write rankings of films directed by popular filmmakers, us included. But what’s the point of another one, you might rightly wonder? Well, the thing is, most rankings I read, it’s as if the writer hadn’t seen the films at all, and/or proves themselves as having never taken so much as an introductory film course. I mean really. I only wrote this because I’ve yet to see a David Fincher ranking written by a true fan, someone who’s actually film literate.

1. Fight Club

Considered a modern classic and rightly so. While initially called a glorification of fascism by some reviewers, Fincher nailed Chuck Palahniuk’s satire on consumerism and meditation on masculinity in a way that few adaptations do. Additionally, the cinematography, particularly in the beach scene, is some of the best I’ve seen.

2. The Game

Often forgotten as it came before many of the Fincher films now considered classics, and maybe his most mainstream, but upon rewatch it totally holds up.

3. The Social Network

A lot of people would quibble about putting this third, but I’ve scarcely seen such a powerful statement about friendships turning toxic. Tense, lyrical, mercurial – a coming-of-age tale like only Fincher could tell it.

4. Zodiac

I know, I know, this should be ranked much higher, you’re probably thinking. But while I recognize that the score is some of the best work Hans Zimmer has done, the twist at the end just didn’t work for me at all. Like stop trying to be Shyamalan, you know?

5. Seven

It’s a testament to Fincher’s talent that a film as good as Seven could be ranked all the way down at five. There just isn’t enough room at the top. I think this one had the most heart of any Fincher film, but his early obsession with motion-capture really dates it upon rewatch. Shame, but it’s a credit to Fincher that he’s evolved as much as the technology.  I expected more from Fincher, but the choreography of the sword scenes made up for it.

6. Panic Room

It took a lot of balls casting a special-needs actor in a revenge film, but an artist like Fincher doesn’t think in terms of risk/reward. Tobey Maguire is underrated, I think.

7. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

You knew this was going to be a tense watch from the very first trailer, famously set to Gwen Stefani’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S, and it certainly didn’t not deliver. Fincher didn’t just flip the rom-com on its head, he pushed it off a cliff. Some of the dinosaur stuff seemed unnecessary, but that’s just Fincher being Fincher.

8. The Social Network 2

Look, I get that this is a joke movie, I just wish the joke were FUNNY. Ha-ha, the main character has never used Facebook, but is trying to fake his way through being CEO. But here’s the thing: I don’t go to the movies for winks and nudge-nudges. I go to the movies to find out what Facebook’s Non-GAAP EBITDA was for Q4. A little something called JOURNALISM.

9. A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Benjamin Button

The red-headed stepchild of David Fincher films, and perhaps rightly so. The set-entirely-inside-a-coffin gimmick was ballsy, but ultimately fell flat, and the abortion stuff just felt like cheap awards pandering. Especially after Fincher had already given us such a rewarding mother-daughter relationship story in The Social Network. Watching it, you can understand why Fincher set fire to the master tapes during a failed suicide attempt and the screenwriter hasn’t been seen since 2008.

10. Pillars Of The Earth

I don’t even believe David Fincher actually directed this, I’m pretty sure it was a book. And really long to boot.

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