Darren Aronofsky is one of the more unique directors working today. He has managed to push himself further with every film he has made. Being someone who isn’t a stranger to controversy, has only gone on to add to his mystique. Despite possessing only a small body of work, he has managed to leave an indelible impression. A lot of his films tend to focus on the darker side of human beings but that’s what makes his films so compelling. There is a personal connect that Aronofsky manages to create between the viewer and the film. He has shown his versatility by handling low as well as big budget films. What makes him a great filmmaker of our times is his ability to put his personal stamp on whatever he does. Aronofsky’s films aren’t really easy to watch given their generally tough subject matter. But, as a cinematic experience he succeeds where others fail. A director capable of making us feel for and about what’s on-screen. It is his way of playing with the emotion and perception of the audience that sets him apart. The imagery we see doesn’t leave us once the film is over, it lingers for a long time. So without further ado, let’s list down top 7 Darren Aronofsky movies, ranked from worst to best.
The last film that Aronofsky made also proved to be one of his most controversial. That wasn’t a surprise given the nature of the content. What you will see is a film filled with excellent special effects with a few good performances to boot. The director’s focus on the people and their motivations, feelings etc makes it worth watching. The standout performances are from Russell Crowe and Ray Winstone. The film takes a story we have heard many a time and transforms it into an entertaining experience. Despite the controversy surrounding the film, it was well received. It also went to become the biggest commercial success of the director’s career so far.
This is the film that put the director on the map. A film so ambitious in its conception and execution, it is a minor miracle. The film would provide a glimpse of all the ideas that were inside Aronofsky. Shot on a minuscule budget, the film is proof that you don’t need money to make quality cinema. It would be the first time we got to see what would become a signature of the director. The use of fast cuts would become a staple of his early films. It accomplishes something truly difficult, it manages to thrill with ideas. The film’s success lies in the fact that it makes us question what is reality ? It is also a film about one man obsession with finding one thing and at times it feels like we are involved in the quest as well.
‘mother!’, on the surface, is a deeply disturbing, home invasion psychological horror thriller. Inspired by the likes of Luis Bunuel’s surreal drama ‘The Exterminating Angel’, Aronofsky made ‘mother!’ apparently based on a fever dream that he had. The entire film actually feels like one. Aronofsky delivers a symbolic, unrestrained two hours of cinema that deals with one of the (if not THE) most controversial and sensitive themes ever. Ah, the sheer audacity! It’s quite admirable.
4. Black Swan
A film that searches the depths of the psyche of a performer. The film very often blurs the line between what is real and what is not. Aronofsky’s direction is one of the film’s strong points. The way he makes the film weave across different strands of the narrative is a particular highlight. It also features one of the best performances of this decade from Natalie Portman. Her depiction of a person’s descent into madness is harrowing and captivating all at once. You never feel like talking your eyes of her at any time. The film is considered by the director himself to be a companion piece to ‘The Wrestler’. This is a different kind of film though. It talks about the efforts we take to achieve perfection and the price we may have to pay for it. This is one film that will surely leave you dazzled.
3. The Fountain
A vastly misunderstood and grossly underrated film. The film would get its due appreciation much after its release. It is a shame because it represents one of Aronofsky’s most ambitious screenplays. It also has what is perhaps the best performance of Hugh Jackman. The story deals with universal themes such as love and death. Using these simple but essential ideas, the director manages to create something grand. Some of the special effects are astonishing considering the budget they had to work with. The film is a showcase of the visual mastery that Aronofsky has in abundance. It is a film that needs to be revisited not just for the ideas it explored but also the way it explored them.
2. The Wrestler
Simply put, it is the most emotionally moving film that Aronofsky has made. It features the comeback performance of this century. Although not as dark as some of the director’s other films, we still do get to see the demons of the protagonist. They include both personal and professional. The real star of the show is Mickey Rourke who gives a performance that goes beyond simply acting. He lives and breathes the role of the titular wrestler and makes us root for him. He definitely deserved to win the Oscar that year. While we have come to appreciate the director for his stylized film making, this is a film that has a more subtle touch. The understated direction is some of his best work. This makes the impact of the story that much greater.
1. Requiem For A Dream
This is not a film for the faint-hearted. It has some of the bleakest and depressing moments in cinema. But that is what creates the devastating impact of the film. We get to see all the tricks at the director’s disposal and it is due to him that the film gets its unique style. Even though the film got the dreaded NC-17 rating, it managed to resonate with both the critics as well as the audience. This is a film that is not easily forgotten mainly due to the acting and the director’s inimitable style. In a film filled with unforgettable performances, it is Ellen Burstyn that leaves the biggest impact. It also shows the maturity of Aronofsky to deal with this kind of story in only his second film. All these factors combine to create one of a kind cinematic experience.
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