When you’re looking at the nominees for Best Director (as I did yesterday), you’ll see that four of the five nominees have something in common: with one notable exception, every director vying for the big prize is a relative newcomer. Promising Young Woman is Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut, and Lee Issac Chung (Minari), Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) and Chloè Zhao (Nomadland) all have had careers, but each of them are finding the spotlight with their nominated film. I mean, to be fair, Vinterberg has had a very illustrious career in his home country of Denmark, but this is the first time American audiences are really finding out about him.
The one notable exception is David Fincher. And he is, in no uncertain terms, pretty fucking notable.
Since 1994, David Fincher has been one of Hollywood’s most consistent director. His films have two notable things in common: they are interesting, profitable, and always among the best films of the year. What’s even more amazing about that is that Fincher makes a very specific type of movie: his movies are usually for adults and capable of evoking strong emotions. Zhao will probably win the Oscar this week, and her next film is a Marvel movie. It is almost impossible to imagine David Fincher taking this kind of a career arc.
Unlike the other great directors of this era (Spielberg, The Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh) who seem capable of cranking out a movie every nine months or so, Fincher is known for laborious work schedules. Dude is gonna take his time and you will get his movie when he is goddamned good and ready. Stories from the set of his films often involve tens, or in some cases, over a hundred takes, as the director attempts to break actors down to get the most raw and real performances. When you take into account that the best performances from some pretty impressive actors (Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, Rooney Mara, Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, etc.) come from David Fincher films, it’s hard to argue with the process.
And yet, for all of his excellence, especially in the 21st century, Fincher has not gotten any real love from the Academy. Three nominations and no wins, and what they choose to nominate is fucking baffling. Mank, the film he is currently nominated for, is his most nominated film, and it’s nowhere close to being his best film.
So what is his best film? Let’s rank some Fincher, my little film darlings!
Continue reading “FBC Oscar Coverage, Part XI: Ranking David Fincher”