Total Recall

Total Recall: David Fincher's Filmography

We present the work of the Social Network director in chronological order.

by | October 1, 2010 | Comments

David Fincher

He’s given us aliens, serial killers, cerebral thrillers, shocking endings, and a glimpse of Brad Pitt as an old man — and now, with The Social Network, David Fincher has helped turn the story of Facebook into one of the most eagerly awaited (and best-reviewed) films of 2010. With that kind of track record, folks will bend the rules for you once in awhile, and in that spirit, we’ve decided to dedicate this week’s feature to Mr. Fincher’s filmography, presented in chronological order. He may not have enough movies to his credit to round out a Top Ten, but many of the ones he has made are among the most compelling of the last 20 years. But don’t take our word for it — let’s see what the critics have to say, Total Recall style!


[tomatometer]MovieID=14276[/tomatometer]

Alien 3

After making a splash as a director of music videos and commercials — including the legendary commercial clip that depicted a fetus smoking a cigarette — Fincher got his big feature break with the highly anticipated third installment of the Alien franchise. Unfortunately, all that anticipation turned to scorn once Alien 3 arrived in theaters, but it wasn’t all Fincher’s fault; as a rookie 30-year-old director, he never had a chance against the studio confusion and constant script doctoring that plagued the project. Not many people understood that in 1992, though, and it didn’t soothe Fincher’s frustration, which was significant enough to send him temporarily back to videos and commercials. Still, even if Alien 3 is widely regarded as the weak link in the original quadrilogy, it has its admirers — including Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, who called it “a grimly seductive end-of-the-world thriller, with pop-tragic overtones that build in resonance as the movie goes on.”


[tomatometer]MovieID=22538[/tomatometer]

Seven

Chagrined by his experiences with Alien 3, Fincher swore off feature films for a year and a half — and then he read Andrew Kevin Walker’s script for Seven. An unrelentingly grim portrait of a society in its hellish death throes, the grisly drama followed a pair of police detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) in pursuit of a serial killer whose ingeniously executed murder victims serve as human embodiments of the seven deadly sins. Fincher, who’d become painfully well acquainted with studio interference while making Alien 3, was forced to defend his bleak vision for the film, which New Line nearly sent to theaters with a different, less brutally shocking ending — but Pitt refused to promote the altered cut, and the result was one of the biggest hits of the year, as well as a nightmare-inducing favorite for critics like Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle, who wrote, “Positively dripping with a soggy, oppressive atmosphere, the film is blanketed with a miasma of madness.”


[tomatometer]MovieID=15651[/tomatometer]

The Game

Flush with the success of Seven, Fincher returned his focus to a project he’d begun earlier: The Game, a twisty psychological thriller starring Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton, an investment banker whose wealth and success mask a personal life bereft of meaningful connections. On his birthday, Nicholas receives a darkly intriguing gift from his brother (Sean Penn): admission to a mysterious “game” with apparently life-changing results. And Nicholas’ life is indeed quickly changed — turned upside down, in fact, as he realizes that playing the game has profound, and perhaps even fatal, consequences. Though many critics were quick to point out the implausibilities in The Game‘s head-spinning plot, the majority were too wrapped up in its stylish thrill ride to care. “The picture provides Douglas with one of his best roles,” wrote Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle. “If he doesn’t quite reach the bizarre heights he achieved in Falling Down, The Game makes its own demands.”


[tomatometer]MovieID=13153[/tomatometer]

Fight Club

Yes, we are going to talk about Fight Club. Initially rejected by critics and ignored by audiences, Fincher’s fourth feature steadily built a cult following on DVD; these days, it’s widely regarded as one of the best films of the 1990s, which not only helped reaffirm Fincher as a director of stylishly thoughtful fare, but established the Hollywood bona fides of author Chuck Palahniuk, from whose novel the movie was adapted. The plot follows the eager descent of a nameless protagonist (Edward Norton) into the anti-establishment crusade of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who organizes the underground brawling network known as Fight Club, but on a deeper level, the story functions as a bloody, black-humored indictment of consumer culture. And more importantly, in the words of ReelView’s James Berardinelli, “Fight Club is a memorable and superior motion picture — a rare movie that does not abandon insight in its quest to jolt the viewer.”

[tomatometer]MovieID=13778[/tomatometer]

Panic Room

A claustrophobic thriller with the heart of a B movie, Panic Room found Fincher taking another stellar cast (including Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, and a young Kristen Stewart) and dropping them in the middle of a tightly wound, tension-filled storyline. Panic sets in almost immediately, with single parent Meg Altman (Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Stewart) spending their first night in the huge Manhattan brownstone Meg has just purchased; what Meg and Sarah don’t know is that their new home contains some very valuable hidden treasure — as well as a trio of very bad men (including the skin-crawling Dwight Yoakam and a mysteriously cornrowed Jared Leto) who will stop at nothing to steal it. Where most Fincher films explore thoughtful themes and carry larger messages, Panic Room is mostly just a nail-biter — but one directed with uncommon flair. As Joe Baltake for the Sacramento Bee put it, “The star of this movie is Fincher, who has filmed it in a grand style that manages to avoid showy excesses.”


[tomatometer]MovieID=358188521[/tomatometer]

Zodiac

It’s a movie about one of the most famous serial killers in American history, and it was helmed by the director responsible for Seven — but 2007’s Zodiac is surprisingly light on gore. In fact, while he looms over every minute of the film, it’s really not about the Zodiac Killer at all; rather than focusing on the death toll left in the wake of his murderous spree, it examines the price paid by those who dedicated their lives to solving the case — specifically San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist-turned-sleuth Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his colleague, crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.). Zodiac is just as dark and visually arresting as you’d expect, given the story and who directed it, but its pensive approach surprised critics — not to mention Paramount, where the marketing campaign played up the story’s grisly element and misleadingly drew ties to Seven. It all added up to a box office disaster, and the source of some of the best reviews of Fincher’s career. Imagining that Fincher was “aching for a return to smart suspense films from the likes of Sidney Lumet and Alan J. Pakula,” Mark Bourne of Film.com lauded the way Zodiac “pulls us by the collar into the frame and cranks the sense of menace taut without cheap tricks or cop-out gimmicks.”


[tomatometer]MovieID=770669386[/tomatometer]

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Turning an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story into a $150 million, 166-minute epic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button reunited Fincher with Brad Pitt — who played the backwards-aging Benjamin — and found him delivering his most mainstream-friendly film since 2002’s Panic Room. It featured a marquee-friendly cast (including Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson, and Julia Ormond), revolved around the high drama of a man forced to live his life in reverse, and was stacked high with sweeping cinematography and a Forrest Gump-style survey of 20th century American history, making it the perfect Christmas Day release and an odds-on Academy Awards favorite. It ended up earning 13 Oscar nominations, but won only three (Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects), reflecting the vague sense of disappointment that shadowed Button‘s eventual $333 million worldwide gross. Though it may not have been an unqualified smash, it still found plenty of critical allies — including Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal, who wrote, “The film quickly outgrows any sense of gimmickry and matures into a one-of-a-kind meditation on mortality, time’s inexorable passage and the fleeting sweetness of love.”


In case you were wondering, here are Fincher’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:

1. Fight Club — 95%
2. Seven — 94%
3. The Game — 82%
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button — 81%
5. Zodiac — 73%
6. Panic Roon — 61%
7. Alien 3 — 55%


Take a look through Fincher’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for The Social Network.

Finally, here’s a Fincher-directed YM commercial featuring a young Angelina Jolie:

Tag Cloud

remakes Infographic Awards Tour Fall TV Extras Starz black dark RT History fast and furious free movies Disney Plus 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Hear Us Out Pet Sematary streaming docuseries stop motion social media documentary Lucasfilm Reality Emmy Nominations First Reviews comics finale Cartoon Network Alien Sundance Now Legendary rt labs disaster Election Universal Pictures The Academy crossover Elton John Instagram Live Hallmark Shondaland wonder woman E! science fiction cartoon Rock nbcuniversal VH1 Amazon Prime richard e. Grant heist movie cooking video on demand historical drama rt archives Box Office reviews award winner deadpool women Sony Pictures GoT south america spain First Look YA marvel cinematic universe Epix Mary Poppins Returns sopranos laika HBO Max Creative Arts Emmys crime drama Rocky USA Network VOD The Walking Dead blockbusters Disney Channel game show AMC Plus game of thrones Holidays archives reboot revenge Character Guide canceled TV shows TV movies ghosts Video Games best Tags: Comedy IFC DC Universe foreign TV crime thriller composers cults justice league zombies MSNBC NYCC Trailer toronto Turner mutant all-time halloween tv Superheroes Netflix Mudbound screen actors guild universal monsters suspense spanish New York Comic Con know your critic TIFF Rocketman Fox News black comedy sequels CNN Premiere Dates dreamworks dogs live event 2019 Ellie Kemper Comedy Central Ghostbusters Broadway 007 Fox Searchlight El Rey latino CW Seed aapi FX on Hulu new star wars movies Netflix Christmas movies DC Comics comiccon blockbuster asian-american rotten PBS psychological thriller discovery olympics Pirates japanese Certified Fresh razzies Interview doctor who Heroines Women's History Month SundanceTV Crunchyroll sitcom Star Wars Nominations nature hollywood travel Fargo robots TV renewals CMT football romance Teen Amazon Studios TCA 2017 National Geographic 79th Golden Globes Awards Travel Channel young adult prank TV Land venice trailers Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Television Critics Association The Walt Disney Company Black Mirror Sundance monster movies hispanic heritage month 1990s anthology blaxploitation Syfy spanish language Endgame GIFs Spike Image Comics Musical TruTV dceu miniseries vampires jamie lee curtis Nat Geo dragons romantic comedy natural history Sundance TV cats Valentine's Day Quiz international jurassic park Disney spinoff book adaptation series posters scene in color zero dark thirty Apple stoner Family 90s Biopics vs. child's play Avengers cancelled TV series AMC harry potter ID Emmys DGA Grammys BAFTA MTV Animation Country worst slashers renewed TV shows target superhero what to watch Lifetime Captain marvel Fantasy king arthur Best and Worst indiana jones Red Carpet Funimation toy story Toys Western a nightmare on elm street comic book movies Showtime Adult Swim spider-verse werewolf Universal 45 Calendar Logo History Pride Month HFPA mission: impossible directors criterion Marvel Sneak Peek Writers Guild of America period drama BBC animated television TCA Winter 2020 Opinion political drama ViacomCBS Hulu A24 Binge Guide Sci-Fi binge scorecard facebook godzilla breaking bad witnail documentaries critics Hallmark Christmas movies strong female leads lord of the rings Nickelodeon FOX Awards Marathons kids diversity Chernobyl Disney streaming service classics slasher TBS art house biopic 20th Century Fox Mary poppins debate leaderboard concert Comic Book parents Freeform serial killer Trivia Warner Bros. cancelled pirates of the caribbean The Arrangement Polls and Games TV One TCA satire Thanksgiving Tubi Spectrum Originals OWN CBS All Access talk show Music technology CBS Neflix 21st Century Fox die hard cars TCA Awards Tumblr Discovery Channel cancelled television green book boxoffice The Witch tv talk elevated horror telelvision sequel SDCC psycho FXX Reality Competition japan golden globes superman 71st Emmy Awards SXSW Cosplay Paramount Plus 2017 trophy festival Pacific Islander USA ABC christmas movies PaleyFest Oscars Superheroe war Marvel Television rt labs critics edition Kids & Family PlayStation zombie E3 mcc Comics on TV Anna Paquin YouTube Red Black History Month popular films batman thriller crime Star Trek Paramount A&E Crackle Shudder Walt Disney Pictures Exclusive Video Tokyo Olympics feel good mockumentary adaptation The CW OneApp medical drama worst movies based on movie Drama Photos 2018 Film Festival movies Ovation Song of Ice and Fire Podcast dexter rotten movies we love BBC One FX Action dramedy BET Set visit boxing adenture Christmas Lionsgate stand-up comedy TLC comic books Pop IFC Films RT21 Countdown 4/20 X-Men movie Marvel Studios nfl screenings Acorn TV new zealand supernatural fresh Winter TV comic book movie unscripted news basketball sports Tomatazos king kong legend Apple TV+ Watching Series children's TV San Diego Comic-Con joker 2021 singing competition WGN halloween gangster name the review APB adventure Year in Review ABC Family YouTube Premium Television Academy emmy awards italian 93rd Oscars obituary festivals live action sag awards ratings Summer Mystery kong Amazon Prime Video Food Network Cannes indie 2016 VICE book Brie Larson The Purge cancelled TV shows new york scary Academy Awards saw American Society of Cinematographers royal family DC streaming service Baby Yoda true crime genre high school Dark Horse Comics franchise streaming movies space Trophy Talk action-comedy Classic Film Prime Video cops MCU french Film independent LGBT Martial Arts TNT WarnerMedia 24 frames Mindy Kaling canceled quibi ABC Signature comic Spring TV Musicals cinemax Arrowverse critic resources anime dc james bond IMDb TV Vudu Super Bowl DirecTV chucky Comedy See It Skip It hist Turner Classic Movies spy thriller ITV Apple TV Plus Holiday hispanic Comic-Con@Home 2021 Horror Paramount Network TCM Chilling Adventures of Sabrina HBO Go Masterpiece theme song HBO NBC Pop TV spider-man rom-coms docudrama Stephen King scary movies 73rd Emmy Awards NBA 2020 video twilight BBC America versus biography Hollywood Foreign Press Association Columbia Pictures marvel comics Mary Tyler Moore teaser kaiju 72 Emmy Awards President Bravo Disney+ Disney Plus Britbox Rom-Com Peacock Winners hidden camera GLAAD ESPN golden globe awards Amazon LGBTQ Lifetime Christmas movies mob Tarantino aliens politics australia 99% Pixar YouTube BET Awards comedies casting transformers Schedule police drama Wes Anderson 2015 Esquire