5 Must-See David Fincher Movies

Although the past decade has seen celebrated filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers, and Kathryn Bigelow land Oscar wins, many worthy directors still remain unrecognized by the Academy Awards. One such filmmaker is undoubtedly David Fincher, whose eye for atmosphere and dark but fascinating tales has captivated moviegoers for nearly 25 years.

In recent years, Fincher’s work has started to become acknowledged by the Academy, though he has yet to secure a Best Director statuette for his very own. With his track record and consistent output, such a win seems like just a matter of time. In the meantime, let’s look back at the five best films Fincher has directed so far.

1. Seven (1995)

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt in Seven

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt in Seven | New Line Cinema

Just three years after making his directorial debut with Alien 3, Fincher’s sophomore effort still stands as one of his signature works. While most filmmakers take a few projects to deliver a classic this strong, the director’s story of two detectives (Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt) on the trail of a serial killer modeling his murders after the seven deadly sins has only become more revered over the years. It now stands as a prime example of the raw talent Fincher offers and how his distinct take on thrillers can elevate the genre.

2. Fight Club (1999)

Brad Pitt in Fight Club

Brad Pitt in Fight Club | Fox

Fincher and star Brad Pitt have worked together a few times, but of the characters Pitt has played for the director, none are as iconic as Tyler Durden. In this film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Durden and the film’s protagonist — played by Edward Norton — start up the titular secret society, and the film expertly tackles a barrage of themes, serving as both a bizarre coming-of-age tale and an anarchic fable. Its use of over-arching message, unreliable narrator, and unforgettable performances have helped it too to emerge as a modern classic.

3. Zodiac (2007)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr in Zodiac

Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr in Zodiac | Paramount

Despite a stellar cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr., this Fincher-directed thriller — tackling the real-life case of the 1960s/1970s serial killer that lends the film its title — failed to make much of a splash at the box office. Regardless, it has come to be heralded by some fans and critics as one of the director’s best films. Considering its intricate storytelling and detailed performances, Zodiac is a fascinating addition to the procedural genre. More than the case itself, the film delves into the concept of obsession and its all-consuming nature.

4. The Social Network (2010)

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network | Columbia Pictures

The ambitious fantasy/drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may have finally been the Fincher film to attract the attention of Oscar voters. Yet this one has made a far more notable impact on the industry and the director’s career. With an Oscar-winning script by Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) and a mesmerizing turn by Jesse Eisenberg, the film’s story of how Mark Zuckerberg conceived of and fought for Facebook may not be entirely historically accurate. However, as a biographical drama, it remains one of the most compelling to ever hit the big screen.

5. Gone Girl (2014)

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, David Fincher movies

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl | Fox

Gillian Flynn’s novel was such a massive best-seller that a film adaptation was bound to happen, but when Fincher signed on to bring the twisted relationship between Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) to life, fans knew they were in for something special. Pike in particular holds the film together in an Oscar-nominated role that is among the strongest female performances in years, and the twist-heavy story keeps viewers guessing just as much as its source material. Gone Girl also has the honor of being Fincher’s highest-grossing film to date.

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