Best Darren Aronofsky Movies - Featured

Darren Aronofsky is one of the most interesting directors working today. His body of work is all the more impressive when you realize he’s made such an impact with only seven feature-length films.

While he’s served as a producer on great films like Jackie and White Boy Rick, for this list, we’re only looking at his seven directorial features. Much like his filmography, this list is bound to be divisive, so let’s start analyzing the best Darren Aronofsky movies.

Watch: Darren Aronofsky Directing Style

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Darren Aronofsky Films

7. Noah (2014)

Making of Methuselah | Noah

Aronofsky needed to take a lot of creative liberty when adapting the biblical story of Noah. The Bible story only spans four chapters, and his wife is never given a name. Perhaps it’s, for this reason, the film feels so at war with itself. It wants to be a personal family drama while also aspiring to be a biblical epic. It wants to combine elements of realism with symbolism. The movie is a contradiction, and while it has its moments, it feels like a film Aronofsky should have skipped.

65%
Acting
50%
Story
70%
Filmmaking
45%
Style
58%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Strong VFX
  • Allegories
  • Good Performances
  • Lack of Thematic Unity
  • Lack of Subtlety
  • The Battle Scenes

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

It’s clear Aronofsky has interesting things to say with Noah. However, the movie’s ultimately a balancing act he just can’t quite nail.

Darren Aronofsky’s Films

6. Pi (1998)

Behind the Scenes | Pi

Pi is Aronofsky’s debut feature, and it’s noteworthy for showcasing the kind of filmmaker he would become. The film deals heavily with themes regarding religion, which would pop up again in his filmography. There is also a heavy suggestion the protagonist is a paranoid schizophrenic. It makes for a great calling card and is a great film for aspiring filmmakers to watch. It shows how you can be true to yourself and launch the kind of film career you want on your terms.

60%
Acting
75%
Story
80%
Filmmaking
70%
Style
71%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The Score
  • Strong Themes
  • Innovative Sound Editing
  • Choppy Editing
  • A Bit Repetitive
  • Shaky Camera

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

Pi may not be the best of Darren Aronofsky’s films, but it’s a great debut feature. Critics and audiences immediately knew what kind of stories he would want to tell, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

Darren Aronofsky Movies List

5. The Fountain (2006)

Movies With Mikey | The Fountain

The genesis of The Fountain was to make a science fiction film that went beyond technology. Instead, he wanted to make a film that searched for the meaning of life and what God truly meant. Unfortunately, a slashed budget left this beautifully-shot film feeling a bit anemic. However, what the film lacks in plot and characters, it more than makes up for in stunning visuals and one of the best scores of the 2000s. It may be a misstep, but when you’re dealing with Darren Aronofsky, a misstep is still better than most things out there.

55%
Acting
50%
Story
85%
Filmmaking
100%
Style
73%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The Score
  • The Visuals
  • Intellectually Stimulating
  • Lacking in Plot
  • Some Wooden Acting
  • Ambitious to a Fault

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

The Fountain is admirable in what kind of story it wants to tell and how it tells it. However, most people will be better off just watching Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

Darren Aronofsky Movies Ranked

4. mother! (2017)

Gnostic Take on Genesis | mother!

mother! is one heck of a roller coaster ride. The more it lingers on your mind, the more you can get out of it. Aronofsky said he wanted to make a film about climate change, but he also incorporates elements of religion with the first half of the film playing out like the story of Genesis. The latter half symbolically shows the destruction of the planet. It works because unlike Noah, Aronofsky dives headfirst into symbolism, foregoing any sense of realism to deliver a poignant message about how religion and environmentalism intertwine.

70%
Acting
65%
Story
85%
Filmmaking
90%
Style
78%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Philosophical Ideas
  • Surrealism
  • Demands Discussion
  • Confusing Plot
  • Lack of Subtlety
  • A Tad Pretentious

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

mother! might be Aronofsky’s most divisive film. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you should watch it to come to your own conclusion.

Great Darren Aronofsky Films

3. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

On the Nature of Addiction | A Matter of Film

When making a film about drug addiction, experimental camera work can help tell the story just as well as any dialogue. That’s why for Requiem for a Dream, Aronofsky employs montages of brief cuts and tight close-ups to put the audience more in the mindset of the characters. It’s arguably the most difficult Aronofsky film to watch, but for understanding what kind of stories he’s drawn to, it’s the most essential.

80%
Acting
80%
Story
95%
Filmmaking
90%
Style
86%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Exceptional Camerawork
  • Strong Characters
  • Great Pacing
  • Overly Nihilistic
  • Final 20 Minutes
  • N/A

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

Requiem for a Dream can be a punishing experience. Darren Aronofsky never lets up on torturing his characters for a second, but the payoff is more than worth it.

All of Darren Aronofsky’s Films

2. Black Swan (2010)

The Cost of Perfection | Jack’s Movie Reviews

Aronofsky’s films tend to have multiple themes working at the same time. Black Swan, while certainly up to interpretation, mainly focuses on one idea: the pursuit for artistic perfection. Through claustrophobic cinematography, we’re drawn directly into Natalie Portman’s stellar performance. With a new twist and new horror, we’re drawn more into this nightmare, proving how Aronofsky has a way of getting in your head and never leaving.

95%
Acting
90%
Story
90%
Filmmaking
85%
Style
90%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The Performances
  • The Cinematography
  • Totally Engrossing
  • Lack of Subtlety
  • Slow Pacing in Beginning
  • N/A

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

Black Swan is a must-watch for aspiring filmmakers. The cinematography and editing are top-notch, and it has a chilling story that sticks with you.

The Best Darren Aronofsky Films

1. The Wrestler (2008)

Why Black Swan and The Wrestler Are the Perfect Double Feature | Hint of Film

While Aronofsky’s mostly known for surrealism and intricate camera movements, he scaled things considerably back with The Wrestler. The result is the best film of his career. It’s a heartbreaking film, and while some of his other movies aren’t accessible to mass audiences, The Wrestler can be enjoyed by practically anyone without sacrificing anything that makes it special. 

What’s even more fascinating is seeing how The Wrestler and Black Swan intertwine with one another. Each is about an artist who sacrifices their lives for their work. With deep themes on obsession and perfection, it’s painfully relevant to anyone who wants to excel in an art form.
100%
Acting
95%
Story
95%
Filmmaking
90%
Style
95%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Mickey Rourke's Acting
  • Superb Camerawork
  • Deeply Human
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Darren Aronofsky Movies

Conclusion

The Wrestler foregoes many of Aronofsky’s usual flourishes to tell an immensely human and engrossing story. It’s his best work to date.

UP NEXT

Darren Aronofsky Movies

Now that the best Darren Aronofsky movies have been ranked, it’s time to dive deeper into his filmmaking style. StudioBinder has examined some of the cinematography and editing he frequently implements in his films for you to learn from. Whether you’re a fan of The Wrestler, Noah, or anything else on our Darren Aronofsky movies list, you’ll want this quick primer on how to film like Aronofsky. 

Up Next: Aronofsky's Directing Style Explained →
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