5. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network is another film that is considered a deviation for Fincher, and was hailed as one of the best movies of the last decade.
Technology’s effect on the world and the relentless drive for perfection are themes both present in the story and Fincher’s approach to filmmaking – Zuckerberg and Fincher are both creators with a vision, and they’re each experts at their craft. At the same time, the star of the show is Aaron Sorkin’s script.
Fincher’s aesthetic creates the atmosphere and guides the audience to consider the characters, but the strong association with Sorkin places Fincher’s arguable masterpiece lower than it perhaps ought to be in a ranking of his filmography.
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4. Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl is another collaboration with a great author. Unlike The Social Network, Gone Girl is not a dialogue-based film. Gone Girl is about an individual’s control of their reputation and image in media, and features the thrilling twists and spectacle that marks the point from which Fincher has been said to deviate.
Gone Girl brings together some of Fincher’s most notable collaborators (cinematographer Jeff Cronenworth, composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, editor Kirk Baxter) with a fresh cast (with several performances that bolster the characters) that results in a very “Fincher” movie.
Gone Girl is, in ways, like The Game, but with more depth and a refined visual style that comes from a director who has mastered control of his craft.
3. Mank (2021)
Mank is a fascinating celebration of classic and contemporary filmmaking.
Aside from the black-and-white digital camera (which presents a warm digital image that perfectly accommodates Fincher’s love of high-contrast lighting), the sound and music were recorded and edited to mimic early 1940s technology, and Fincher incorporates some of Welles’ techniques into his own.
Mank explores the divide between artist and businessman, author and writer, and generally speaks to the reality of filmmaking in corporate Hollywood. The titular character, Herman J. Mankiewicz, has to fight for his authorship of Citizen Kane, which he labors over on his own timetable, and the film details the circumstances which led to Kane’s writing due to the company Mank kept.
It should be noted that the film’s narrative is based off a discredited narrative regarding the authorship of Kane, which was written as a reaction to the traditional formulation to auteur theory which privileges directors, but that doesn’t make the film less compelling for any lover of cinema.