2. Black Swan (2010)
2010 thriller Black Swan is a film that illustrates so clearly and concisely the mastery of Aronofsky’s work both on the page and on the screen that it’s almost impossible to overlook how much talent and artistry is a part of the film even to those who don’t like it.
Starring Natalie Portman in an Oscar winning turn, Black Swan twists and distorts our perceptions of reality to offer a typically cynical and dark Aronofsky take on the pursuit of perfection, delving deep into the human condition in search of a truth that causes said pursuit to mean so much to so many of us.
Spectacularly navigating the famous ballet of the same name courtesy of fluid long takes filled with swinging camera moves from cinematographer Matthew Libatique and invisible edits from Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan is the most traditionally spectacular of Aronofsky’s work, a ginormous achievement in Hollywood film language that earned four Oscar nominations in technical categories: Director, Cinematography, Editing and Picture.
1. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
Requiem for a Dream was the film that truly put Darren Aronofsky on the map. The director’s second feature, released in 2000, was a dark examination of the addictive nature of Western culture at the time, presenting our collective need for excess through a personal examination of four men and women of different ages each suffering from society’s most common vice.
As was the case with The Fountain, Black Swan and Mother! particularly, Requiem for a Dream was very musical in its pacing, the destruction of the four people at the centre of its narrative being played out to the orchestral sounds of Clint Mansell’s dramatic and later iconic score, the crascendo being an unraveling of lives in various horrifying ways; Aronofsky establishing himself as the harbinger of dark truths and a leading voice among America’s increasingly alternative forms of self-examination.
Very much like a drug hit, the euphoria at the heart of Requiem for a Dream is something you simply can’t turn away from, but the desperation and tragedy either side of it make for a tough watch about a hopeless situation, one that encapsulates the very fabric of substance addiction while providing an intricate examination of the subject matter.
Recommended for you: Bong Joon-ho Directed Films Ranked
From top to bottom, the Darren Aronofsky filmography is a must-watch, his challenging work offering unique experiences time and time again, and his overall contribution to the form being among the largest of any single filmmaker this century. Whether it be Noah or Requiem for a Dream, these timeless entries into the canon of American film will be remembered for decades, but what do you think? Let us know your order in the comments below.