David FincherDavid Fincher's films are known for many things, but being traditional isn't one of them. His grim themes, low-key lighting, and aversion to happy endings work in tandem with unusual subject matter, which makes for some bleak filmmaking. The genius of Fincher is found in his ability to tap into the beautiful dark side of humanity, evoking fear, anger, and intrigue with his audience. So, what kinds of films does a director of his caliber see as important pieces of cinema? In a hand-written note, Fincher lists 26 of what he considers the greatest movies, ranging from a seemingly obvious influence, Taxi Driver, to ones that seem to come out of left field, like Animal House.

This list has been making its rounds for a while, but thanks to Cinephilia and Beyond, it has resurfaced. Looking at the list, I found myself racking my brain to find something that connected them all. Leave it to an amateur to try to make sense of an iconic filmmaker's movie preferences without any insight. However, some light is shone on his cinematic sensibilities when considering what he said about the difference between "movies" and "films."

A movie is made for an audience and a film is made for both the audience and the filmmakers. I think that The Game is a movie and I think Fight Club‘s a film. I think that Fight Club is more than the sum of its parts, whereas Panic Room is the sum of its parts. I didn’t look at Panic Room and think: Wow, this is gonna set the world on fire. These are footnote movies, guilty pleasure movies. Thrillers. Woman-trapped-in-a-house movies. They’re not particularly important.


He includes several straight-from-film-school films, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidChinatown, and Citizen Kane (Animal House was a big one where I went to college, since a lot of the film was shot on campus, but whatever.) It's difficult to think that most of the best contemporary directors weren't influenced by these films.

Based on his filmic style, there are also a few unexpected selections. First of all -- a lot of musicals on the list of the director who cut Gwyneth Paltrow's head off in Seven. There's also several comedies that raised my eyebrows: ZeligMonty Python & The Holy Grail, and Animal House.

The interesting thing about this list is that even if they don't explicitly relate to Fincher's filmmaking style, they're still excellent films worth including in a weekend movie marathon rotation (except Monty Python -- gnash your teeth at me -- I don't care.)

What do you think about David Fincher's list of best films? Any surprises? Let us know in the comments below.

[via Cinephilia and Beyond]