Director Picks: Top 5 Movies by Darren Aronofsky

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel November 25, 2012

Darren AronofskyDarren Aronofsky is one of my favourite directors working today. He is a true visionary and has created no bad movies in my opinion. This is handy considering he has only made 5 full length features made available for the public, so all I have to do is essentially rate them from least-best to ultimate-best. Here goes!

5. “The Fountain” (2006)

A scene from Darren Aronofsy's film, "The Fountain".

Yes, this is a shot from the movie.

This movie was unfortunately critically panned and widely misunderstood. I am in the latter category of people not quite understanding this movie’s purpose, that’s why it’s at the bottom of the list. However, while it’s core theme may be difficult to understand, nothing else is. The basic story of a wife with a brain tumor (Rachel Weiss) and a doctor husband (Hugh Jackman) who is trying desperately to save her is beautiful and ultimately heartbreaking- it certainly moved me to tears. It’s images are haunting, ethereal…and yes, weird. This is the movie with a floating, bald, monk-like Hugh Jackman after all.

4. “Pi” (1998)

A shot from the Aronofsky film, "Pi"

This movie is a mind-fuck and a half. It’s about a mathematician who goes mad trying to find the magic number that will unlock all of the patterns found in nature. It’s paranoid. It’s black and white. It’s a blast. The tension from this psychological drama comes from this man so close to seemingly unleash the power of numbers to help explain the world and the rest is just crazy. This is Aronofsky’s first film and it introduces the mind-bending, psyche-based story-teller he is.

3. “The Wrestler” (2008)

A poster for the Aronofsky film, "The Wrestler"

Also known as “The Mickey Rourke Comeback Special”. This is about an old wrestler who must retire but finds trying to piece back his life together outside of the wrestling world a total disaster. This is Aronofsky’s most realistic story yet. It’s simply about the struggles of a man and his heartbreaking life that has ended in isolation and regret. The amount of pathos Aronofsky can bring to a character who isn’t all that likable is astounding.

2. “Black Swan” (2010)

A shot from the Aronofsky film, "Black Swan"

“Black Swan” is an ultimate must-see as it blends the best of Aronofsky- letting the audience inside the twisted mind of the protagonist as well as building sympathy for a lost soul. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her portrayal of Nina Sayers, the ballet dancer who is perfect as the white swan but not as the black swan. As she slowly becomes more tense, trying to be perfect in both roles, one who is innocent, the other dangerous and sexual, she starts losing her mind and herself. It is simply unbelievable. The score, the direction, the acting, the cinematography, everything is crazy-beautiful to the extreme.

1. “Requiem for a Dream” (2000)

A shot from the Aronofsky film, "Requiem for a Dream"

I have no idea why Jennifer Connelly’s sweater has holes in the armpit area.

This is my favourite movie of all time. It is simply tragic and so much more than the perceived “drug movie” it’s made out to be. It’s a movie where the characters’ downfall happens to be drugs. The main characters all start off in the perfect scenario that drugs have given them, whether it’s money, a good time, or being thin enough to fit into a red dress, and it soon dissolves into heartbreak, isolation, insanity, and cold-hard reality. The characters’ journeys travel through the seasons and by the end of a year their lives are very different, there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do to have their drug of choice. This can serve as a metaphor for other things, whether it’s money, or even a promotion at a job; a person can lose themselves in their quest for what they believe will make their life perfect. If you only see one movie on this list, please make it this one. The direction and style are superb, the acting is top-notch (yes, Jared Leto CAN act!), and the string-filled score is one of the most famous in the world.

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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