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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

With 12 movies, 40 Academy Award nominations, four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award under his belt, American film director David Fincher has firmly instituted himself and his work as essential in the fabric of cinema and our culture. Despite many of his movies having been released in the late 1990s and early 2000s, his films remain relevant in pop culture and are frequent points of reference in conversation. Nearly every one of his movies are recognizable even by those who haven’t seen them, and in case you haven’t, here’s my ranking of his films. 

10. “The Killer” (2023)

Despite being his newest release, this movie quickly assumed its position on the bottom of my list because of its mundanity and lack of plot depth. I never got on board with any of the characters, and I often felt disconnected from the drive of the story so that I was left wanting more in nearly every aspect of the film. 

9. “Panic Room” (2002)

While this movie holds a special place in my heart (it was my first Fincher movie), it doesn’t go the distance after watching it compared to some of his other films. However, it still showcases great performances by Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart, and if you’re in the mood for a cheap thrill, this movie is perfect. 

8. “The Game” (1997)

When you’re in the mood for a quick and fun watch without much to say on any broader or more significant themes, this film is perfect for you. As one of his lesser-known films, Fincher still affords viewers an intriguing and twisty plot, yet its 1997 release hasn’t aged well and it has fallen into the backdrop of some of his more popular films. 

7. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008)

As we near the bottom of the list, I’d still like to offer some praise for this creative movie that does pull off some very emotional and heartfelt scenes. Although, when compared to his other mass-hit movies, this film doesn’t quite showcase the Fincher we’ve come to expect, and this near three-hour film had trouble keeping me interested.

6. “The Social Network” (2010)

Following the founding of the iconic website Facebook, this biographical depiction of Mark Zuckerberg is entertaining and hits the mark on the humor. However, the slower legal side of the story didn’t quite match the fast-paced excitement of building the website from scratch, and I found myself counting down the runtime more than I would have liked. 

5. “Gone Girl” (2014)

What at first seems like an unassuming story about the disappearance of a woman from her suburban lifestyle quickly morphs into an enthralling sequence of mind-games and deception. Even on rewatches, this movie maintains its eerie tone and underlying anxiousness that makes it a Fincher classic. 

4. “Fight Club” (1999)

3. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011)

Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, this mystery movie is harsh, unforgiving, and showcases incredible acting by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, both of whom deliver unforgettable performances in the backdrop of this tangled story. Fincher’s directing here is pointed and purposeful, resulting in one of his best movies. 

2. “Zodiac” (2007)

Based on the hunt for the Zodiac killer between 1968 and 1983, this atmospheric detective thriller easily sails into second place. The detective characters played by Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhal and Robert Downey Jr. seamlessly propel this movie into the depths of a mind-bending psychological story that challenges audiences’ ideas and perceptions beyond the screen. It leaves viewers reeling from its many twists and turns. 

1. “Seven” (1995)

For me, placing this movie at the top is an obvious choice. The dynamic between Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt is irreplaceable and the gut-wrenching tension that continually builds  reaches an uncomfortable high. Kevin Spacey is ultimately despicable, with multiple staggering shocks that lead up to the ultimate twist–where Fincher delivers the ending of a century. 

Honorable mentions: “Mank” (2020), “Alien3” (1992)

Despite my criticism of some of his films, I firmly believe that each and every one of Fincher’s movies is deserving of a watch and engaging with his work is a beneficial experience for anyone. Pop culture has Fincher to thank for a great abundance of material that has served as inspiration and examples of master film-making. 

Olivia Neilly

CU Boulder '26

Olivia is a sophomore at CU Boulder double majoring in Molecular Biology and English. While one day she hopes to attend medical school, she still loves to read and write, often curled up with a good book and a cup of hot coffee. When not in class or studying, Olivia enjoys visiting cafes, shopping for new books, playing with her dog, or watching movies. Her favorite films are La La Land, Silence of the Lambs, and Amadeus. She is also passionate about research in biological and neurological fields, and she works in a lab at CU to help learn more about neurogenetics and mental disorders. Olivia is excited to be able to publish her work and explore a wide variety of topics that bridge between science and art along with what it's like living as a college student in Boulder, CO.