Noovie 9: Great David Fincher Films, Ranked

David Fincher's long-awaited "Mank" is now on Netflix. But why stop there? Have yourself a Fincher fest with his 9 other best films.

By Chuck Walton

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl."

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl."

  • 1Gone Girl

    Rosamund Pike in "Gone Girl." ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved/courtesy Everett Collection.

    Fincher's best film is basically an A+ list lurid soap opera, featuring personal bests from director Fincher, star Ben Affleck, and especially Rosamund Pike as the title lady. It's a cautionary tale for all those considering marriage, and an extreme, well-made nightmare for all of us who are wedded to our partners, and wondering what exactly goes on in our significant others' heads, and when things get heated, what could any of us really do?

    Gone Girl

    Crime Drama / 2014 / R

    In Carthage, Mo., former New York-based writer Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his glamorous wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) present a portrait of a blissful marriage to the public. However, when Amy goes missing on the couple's fifth wedding anniversary, Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. The resulting police pressure and media frenzy cause the Dunnes' image of a happy union to crumble, leading to tantalizing questions about who Nick and Amy truly are.

  • 2The Social Network

    Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network."

    Fincher's tale about the formation of Facebook is super prescient nowadays. When the story of Mark Zuckerberg and his peers came out in 2010, it was hard to tell how much of a player Facebook would be on the world stage. Now, well…it's worth revisiting this fantastic movie. There's not much violence or profanity going on here, and zero explosions. As far as great dialogue (courtesy of Aaron Sorkin), performances and filmmaking, though – it's as combustible as cinema gets.

    The Social Network

    Drama / 2010 / PG-13

    In 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) begins work on a new concept that eventually turns into the global social network known as Facebook. Six years later, he is one of the youngest billionaires ever, but Zuckerberg finds that his unprecedented success leads to both personal and legal complications when he ends up on the receiving end of two lawsuits, one involving his former friend (Andrew Garfield). Based on the book "The Accidental Billionaires."

  • 3The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

    Sort of a deeper and more philosophical "Forrest Gump," this meditative epic follows an old man named Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) who has the curious distinction of aging in reverse. Through the decades, his mild manner and thoughtful countenance allow him to be our stand-in as an observer of the good and the bad of 20th century American history. He's also a reminder of how precious life truly is.

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    Drama / 2008 / PG-13

    Born under unusual circumstances, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) springs into being as an elderly man in a New Orleans nursing home and ages in reverse. Twelve years after his birth, he meets Daisy, a child who flickers in and out of his life as she grows up to be a dancer (Cate Blanchett). Though he has all sorts of unusual adventures over the course of his life, it is his relationship with Daisy, and the hope that they will come together at the right time, that drives Benjamin forward.

  • 4The Game

    Michael Douglas in "The Game."

    Some David Fincher fans and movie buffs might be surprised at how high "The Game" ranks on our list. But this dark, surprising holiday film which casts a rich man (Michael Douglas) on an interactive life path where he'll choose his own adventure whether he likes it or not, is meticulously well-told, and ends on an amusing, bemusing note. Shake off the doldrums and give this film a watch.

    The Game

    Thriller / 1997 / R

    Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a successful banker who keeps mostly to himself. When his estranged brother Conrad (Sean Penn) returns on his birthday with an odd gift -- participation in a personalized, real-life game -- Nicholas reluctantly accepts. Initially harmless, the game grows increasingly personal, and Orton begins to fear for his life as he eludes agents from the mysterious game's organizers. With no one left to trust and his money gone, Orton must find answers for himself.

  • 5Zodiac

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo in "Zodiac."

    Long before Iron Man and the Hulk teamed up in the MCU, stars Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo, along with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anthony Edwards, formed a fascinating team of reporters and cops determined to solve the Zodiac serial killer murders that remain unsolved to this day. Audiences weren't sure what to make of the film's trenchant, moody atmosphere and the lack of resolution. But it is one of Fincher's best efforts – a fully realized procedural drama that remains a first-class and haunting experience.

    Zodiac

    Crime Drama / 2007 / R

    In the late 1960s and 1970s, fear grips the city of San Francisco as a serial killer called Zodiac stalks its residents. Investigators (Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards) and reporters (Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr.) become obsessed with learning the killer's identity and bringing him to justice. Meanwhile, Zodiac claims victim after victim and taunts the authorities with cryptic messages, cyphers and menacing phone calls.

  • 6The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

    Be sure also to seek out the original European version, but Fincher's take on the popular crime novel is a top-grade follow-up, and Rooney Mara as the punk avenging angel Lisbeth Salander is thrilling to watch. Daniel Craig's in good form as the journalist who believes in her, and Fincher and Mara stay true to the book and original movie's dark and gritty roots.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Crime Drama / 2011 / R

    Disgraced financial reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) finds a chance to redeem his honor after being hired by wealthy Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the 40-year-old murder of Vanger's niece, Harriet. Vanger believes that Harriet was killed by a member of his own family. Eventually joining Blomkvist on his dangerous quest for the truth is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an unusual but ingenious investigator whose fragile trust is not easily won.

  • 7Fight Club

    Brad Pitt in "Fight Club."

    It's a hallmark film for Fincher and stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. It's a witty and first-rate takedown of '90s consumer culture. And its nihilistic humor and private fights between dudes of all persuasion are hard to take one's eyes off of. Still, the main event here is Pitt's Tyler Durden. The Fight Club founder and soap maker is a Fincher superhero – all brass, balls and endless quotables. Minus the gear and superpowers, we'll take Durden in a one on one fight with anyone.

    Fight Club

    Thriller / 1999 / R

    A depressed man (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets a strange soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and soon finds himself living in his squalid house after his perfect apartment is destroyed. The two bored men form an underground club with strict rules and fight other men who are fed up with their mundane lives. Their perfect partnership frays when Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), a fellow support group crasher, attracts Tyler's attention.

  • 8Seven

    Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt in "Seven."

    Made on a modest budget of $33 million, Fincher's breakout hit recouped over ten times that amount. Audiences and critics couldn't get enough of the filmmaker's heavy dread as Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman's detectives track down a killer obsessed with making a point about the seven deadly sins. It all leads up to one of the most shocking and memorable conclusions in movie history.

    Seven

    Crime Drama / 1995 / R

    When retiring police Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) tackles a final case with the aid of newly transferred David Mills (Brad Pitt), they discover a number of elaborate and grizzly murders. They soon realize they are dealing with a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who is targeting people he thinks represent one of the seven deadly sins. Somerset also befriends Mills' wife, Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is pregnant and afraid to raise her child in the crime-riddled city.

  • 9Panic Room

    Kristen Stewart and Jodie Foster in "Panic Room."

    When it comes down to it, every Fincher-directed movie (and yes, that includes "Alien 3") has a lot to offer cineastes and aspiring filmmakers. Bottom line, the guy is an obsessive person who truly loves film and uses every tool and detail to make great cinema. Our 9th pick, "Panic Room" with Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart, isn't that far removed in terms of quality than Fincher's best film. The story here, about a mom and daughter hiding from home intruders in their panic room, may be simple. But everything about it – cinematography, screenwriting, performance, production design – is top of class. We just listed Fincher's finest 9. But there are only two others, "Alien 3" and "Mank." Those demand viewing, too.

    Panic Room

    Thriller / 2002 / R

    Trapped in their New York brownstone's panic room, a hidden chamber built as a sanctuary in the event of break-ins, newly divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her young daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with three intruders - Burnham (Forest Whitaker), Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) and Junior (Jared Leto) - during a brutal home invasion. But the room itself is the focal point because what the intruders really want is inside it.

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