From 'Alien 3' to 'Gone Girl'
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1. "Se7en" (1995)
Fincher has often shown a propensity for transcending genre through classicism, and perhaps never more expertly than on his first real offering. Yeah, "Alien 3" was his debut, but he claimed far more ownership of "Se7en," a twisted film that marvels by its mere existence, plumbing dark depths in an unshakeable finale that made it a pop cultural phenom. Its flaws are often its charms (witness Brad Pitt finding his way into the superstar he'd soon become), but the craft on display -- which some might argue became truly refined by the time "Zodiac" came around -- announced a significant arrival. With cinematographer Darius Khondji and film editor Richard Francis-Bruce, Fincher established a set of tenets for his work on "Se7en" that everything he would produce thereafter would be measured by. This film somehow feels like his essence. -Kristopher Tapley