Best David Fincher Movies - Featured - StudioBinder-min

This list represents the Top 10 David Fincher movies. Granted, he’s only made ten films but who’s counting? Perhaps no working director has such a confident grasp on the medium and such a fluency in film language. Even his debut feature, Alien 3, when he was a director for hire, has visible evidence of his stylistic trademarks. There are no bad films on this list, only a spectrum of greatness. 

Better Than You Remember

10. Alien 3 (1992)

David Fincher Movies: Alien 3

David Fincher cut his teeth working on music videos for Madonna before he had the opportunity to join the Alien franchise. What followed was the beginning of the end for the series, but it’s important to point out that it's really no fault of Fincher.

Studio intervention prevented him from telling the story he wanted to tell, and the end result was a mishmash of tones and a race to complete the script in the middle of filming.

However, if you look closely, you can still find pieces of Fincher’s brilliance. It’s an incredibly atmospheric film with strong orange hues and some interesting camera choices.

David Fincher was an artist trying to work within the studio system, and while Alien 3 isn’t remembered kindly in the grand scheme of David Fincher movies, he was able to use the film as a launch pad onto bigger and better things.

Fincher MOvies Wrap-Up

Alien 3

  • Best Line: "You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else."
  • Tomatometer: 42%
  • Watch Now

Looking Better Every Day

9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

VFX in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Of all the movies directed by David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is by far the most overly sentimental. It’s out of the ordinary for him since his films typically portray a more cynical world, which makes this film stand out in the worst way, much like the fledgling CGI technology used in the film.

Fincher wants to take us on this epic journey, but he ends up leading the audience directly into the uncanny valley.

Still, there are moments of beauty in the film, and the scenes where characters ruminate on the inevitability of death are highlights. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are standouts as lovers tormented by the fact they will only intersect in age once.

In a lesser filmmaker’s hands, this film easily could’ve been viewed as an overindulgent mess. But Fincher gives it the gravitas it needs to work. It may not always hit, but when it does, it’s like a fine caviar.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

ThE Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Best Line: "I was thinking how nothing lasts, and what a shame that is."
  • Tomatometer: 71%
  • Watch Now

A Simple Plan Gone Wrong

8. Panic Room (2002)

Pre-vis in Panic Room

Panic Room is Fincher’s smallest work, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Fincher takes the simple concept of a home invasion story and adds flourish after flourish. The camera techniques he implements here are vital watching for any film student.

The camera moves through walls so effectively to follow our characters that you become completely immersed within the world of the film.

Coupled with razor sharp dialogue and the amazing ability to build suspense, Panic Room makes for an engaging thriller. It tends to get lost among discussions of David Fincher films for not having the same thematic resonance as his other works, but when all you want is a thriller that grabs ahold of you and refuses to let go, it’s a home run.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

Panic Room

  • Best Line: "Who are you?" "I'm Raoul."
  • Tomatometer: 75%
  • Watch Now

He Said, She Said

7. Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl's editing process

Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel excels in taking literary devices and perfectly translating them to film. The change in perspective halfway in the story could’ve easily fallen apart, but somehow, it works.

Like most of his films, the tension here is off the charts, and even if you’ve read the book, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens to Nick and Amy next.

Part of being a great director involves choosing the right people to work with. Casting Ben Affleck as Nick was a point of brilliance, playing off his real public persona of being a slimeball and yet oddly likable simultaneously.

He also cast Rosamund Pike, a bit of an unknown at the time, over the original plans to cast Reese Witherspoon, America’s sweetheart.

The audience needed to have a completely blank view toward Amy, never knowing whether we should despite or adore her. As you go through the David Fincher filmography, you will notice he knows how to cast the best actors for the role, and choosing the right collaborators is a crucial skill for any filmmaker.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

Gone Girl

  • Best Line: "I've killed for you. Who else can say that?"
  • Tomatometer: 87%
  • Watch Now

David Fincher Films

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Fincher Movies: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Murder. Obsession. The bleak nature of existence. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was practically begging for a Fincher adaptation. You don’t watch this film to figure out who the murderer is. It’s pretty obvious among the three suspects presented.

Instead, you watch to witness an obsessive process. The journey holds more value over the conclusion, and that’s why you find yourself coming back to this film.

Much like the book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is so much more than just a murder mystery. It’s an in-depth examination of the misogynistic tendencies that corrupt societal systems. Mara Rooney’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander embodies a woman fed up with abuses and ready to take matters of justice into her own hands.

Rooney’s performance elevates the film and makes it one of the truly great mysteries of the 21st century. It’s only a shame we couldn’t revisit this character later during the scrapped sequels.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

  • Best Line: "Bring your drink, leave my knife."
  • Tomatometer: 86%
  • Watch Now

Hitchcock Would Be Proud

5. The Game (1997)

The Game begins

Before Fincher blurred the lines between what’s real and fake in Fight Club, he tackled this theme in a far more apparent manner with The Game. Nicholas Van Orton is your prototypical Fincher protagonist as an emotionally detached man who begins to question everything around him as he’s unable to distinguish what’s part of the game and what’s part of his actual life.

There are plenty of themes one can take away from this film. It’s about coming to the realization that life is a game, and in order to succeed, you need to learn to break the rules.

It’s also about how letting go of the confines of everyday life is the most liberating experience man can go through. If those themes sound familiar, well, they’re pretty common in David Fincher movies as you’ll see when we dive into...

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

The Game

  • Best Line: "I don't care about the money. I'm pulling back the curtain. I want to meet the wizard."
  • Tomatometer: 73%
  • Watch Now

Firing On All Cylinders

4. Fight Club (1999)

Looking back at Fight Club

The 1990s were pretty good in American society. The economy was great. Military conflicts were in a relative lull. It was a great time for the middle-class white man, and that period of boredom ironically led to its own sort of conflict.

Fight Club encapsulates this idea for wanting something better than any other film of the period as our unnamed Narrator meets Tyler Durden and starts a revolution.

It’s a shame the film has been co-opted in recent years by incels, who are clearly the targets of the film’s satirization. How much more obvious do you have to get than having characters who claim to rebel against conformity, and yet everyone ends up dressed the same, living in the same house, and spouting the exact same catchphrases?

The critiques on unrestrained toxic masculinity are potent as ever, and as long as you are cognizant of the satire, it’s more poignant than ever in today’s world — and one of the best David Fincher movies.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

Fight Club

  • Best Line: "You met me at a very strange time in my life."
  • Tomatometer: 79%
  • Watch Now

Masterclass in Writing & Directing

3. The Social Network (2010)

David Fincher Movies: The Social Network

While Fight Club is one of the defining movies of the 90s, The Social Network will undoubtedly be come to be seen as one of the most pivotal films in the 2010s. There’s a tendency to put billionaire tech bros on a pedestal. As The Social Network shows, they’re ultimately just isolated, scared men who wanted to make a Hot-or-Not website.

The film perfectly captures that sensation of when you get a bunch of likes on a photo, but you still feel empty and worthless on the inside. The story of Facebook is perfect for the Fincher treatment because while it appears that everyone is more connected than ever, in actuality, we’re just continuing to isolate ourselves. 

With a superb Aaron Sorkin script and a score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network deserves your upvote.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

The Social Network

  • Best Line: "You're not an asshole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be."
  • Tomatometer: 96%
  • Watch Now

Still Haunting As Ever

2. Se7en (1995)

Se7en breakdown

Morgan Freeman’s character is about to retire, and he joins forces with a rookie with a penchant for giving into his emotions. Se7en easily could’ve just been another by-the-books detective procedural, and yet, it became a defining moment for the genre.

It’s Fincher’s second film, and after the setback of Alien 3, it proved he was a force to be reckoned with in the industry, and that studios would do best to step back and just let Fincher work his magic.

At its core, Se7en is a meditation on violence and evil. It’s bleak and unforgiving. And yet, there’s still a glimmer of hope. It’s perhaps best summarized by the film’s last line, “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part.” Se7en doesn’t let itself off the hook by suggesting people are ultimately good, but we shouldn't give into our basest impulses.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

Se7en

  • Best Line: "Ernest Hemingway once wrote, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part."
  • Tomatometer: 81%
  • Watch Now

Epic On All Fronts

1. Zodiac (2007)

David Fincher Movies: Zodiac

Zodiac doesn’t have any demonic monsters or ghosts that race toward you. But you’ll still want to watch it with the lights on. Zodiac thrives on the details, and just like the characters become enveloped in the quest to find the Zodiac killer, so does the viewer become entrenched in unlocking the clues by noticing new details every time.

However, the biggest joke of all in Zodiac is that even if you pay attention to all the details, even if you do everything right, more often than not you just end up with loose ends. Just when you think you have it figured out, something new draws your attention, and now, you’re on a completely different path. 

More than any other film he’s made, Zodiac perfectly captures everything Fincher wants to tell as a filmmaker. Obsession. Isolation. The darkness that lies in everyone’s hearts. No other serial killer movie is quite like Zodiac, and it will forever serve as Fincher’s masterpiece.

FINCHER MOVIES WRAP-UP

Zodiac

  • Best Line: "Not many people have basements in California." "I do."
  • Tomatometer: 89%
  • Watch Now

Up Next

The Directing Style of David Fincher

Now that you're all caught up on Fincher's filmography, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty of what makes them great. Fincher's command of the medium extends across all elements — sound, music, color, camera, editing, production design and story. Let's go through each of those categories in detail to find out how they work independently and together to create a truly remarkable filmmaking style.

Up Next: David Fincher's Directing Style →
Solution - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows. 

Learn More ➜

1.1K Shares
1.1K Shares
Copy link