• David Fincher’s Mindhunter returns to Netflix on August 16th.
• The series isn’t the only thriller Fincher has directed.
• Here are 7 of his best films, spanning true crime and psychological drama.
Those catching up to the Fincher phenomena may be wondering what else to watch. Yet, you’ve probably seen more of his films than you realize. Fincher has crossed genres and mediums enough to have at least one project rank among any movie fan's favorites.
Mindhunter, which he produces and sometimes directs, is Fincher’s 'TV' follow-up to the medium-defining House of Cards, his first foray into serialized drama. Like The Sopranos before it, the Netflix original reimagined what a TV series can accomplish when it first dropped all 13 episodes of its season at once. It also further helped Fincher to stake his claim as one of the greatest, and most innovative, living directors.
Not sure where to start? Hoping to stay within the crime genre? Here are seven of Fincher’s best Mindhunter-like films.
Fight Club fanboys may disagree, but we think Zodiac remains Fincher's magnum opus. The almost 3-hour-long true crime thriller, with its fastidious attention to historical details, its dialogue direction and its uncomfortably omniscient camera movement, feels so quintessentially Fincher in every obsessive and disturbing moment. Fincher also finds stand-out performances from each member of the cast, including the criminally-underrated Jake Gyllenhaal. Zodiac may be the most direct Mindhunter descendant in Fincher's 10-film filmography.
Gone Girl (2014)
At its most basic level, Fincher’s directorial attention always settles on presentation. More specifically, how the way in which people and things appear often masks the (more interesting) way in which people and things are. That means filming lies—deception, unreliability, questions. Gone Girl is the perfect study not only in how to adapt literature to film, but also in how to enact unreliable narration on screen—how to take the voice and perspective of a narrator (that unique feature of literature) and film it in all its deceptive glory.
Fight Club (1999)
The work that made famous the unreliable film narrator was, of course, Fight Club. Another expert book-to-film piece, Fight Club was also a cult sensation. In no other film does Fincher lie to audiences more audaciously. Here, appearance becomes severed from reality and Fincher strikes gold.
Back on the Mindhunter serial-killing theme, there's Seven, a film with a Kevin Spacey role that will definitely (appropriately) creep you out. Either way, as one of Fincher's earliest films, Seven now gives audiences a glimpse at the master developing his most enduring themes and techniques—and in the most intense way possible.
The Social Network (2010)
Conceptually, the founding of social media giant Facebook should make for a seemingly dry non-fiction viewing. But in Fincher's hands, the film transforms into a nightmare-like Greek tragedy. And it's only after the movie finishes that you realize only Fincher could have pulled off such a performance. The growing obsessiveness. The lies. The psychological downfall. Who could've thought that Facebook had Fincher's themes posted all over it?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Another eyebrow-raising move was Fincher's decision to tackle the Millennium novel series. Already done wonderfully by the Swedes, the decision to adapt The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo first appeared as lazy Americanization. But when the film came out .... yeah, you can probably guess what happened: another great literary adaptation. Why do we ever doubt David?
The Game (1997)
One of Fincher's lesser-known films stars Michael Douglas as an investment banker who finds himself trapped in a reality-bending game. The atmosphere is unmistakably Fincher, but also with a dash of Franz Kafka. It's one of his more action-packed thrillers, but with just as much psychological tension. Just because it's last on this list doesn't mean you should skip it. Have you learned nothing about Fincher?
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