Darren Aronofsky is one of the most visionary directors working today, crafting films that deal with loss, despair, and obsession. Noah came out earlier this month and we’re celebrating Aprilofsky, so I thought I’d rank the director’s previous films. Let me know what you think!
5. Pi (1998)
Aronofsky’s first film is, in a nutshell, about obsession and the lengths one man will go to to find the truth. Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is a gifted mathematician trying to crack life’s secrets by using numbers. Throw in hasidic Jews trying to use numbers to find God and a mysterious company trying to use Max for financial gain and you’ve got an interesting, thrilling plot. I should mention that Max gets headaches due to a “looked at the sun for too long” incident when he was six, which he mentions repeatedly throughout the film.
Pi takes the lowly #5 spot for a lot of reasons. While it’s quite thrilling in some spots, there isn’t a high rewatchability factor for me. Max isn’t a very lovable character for one thing, and the movie is too dark and crazy for my tastes (spoiler alert: Max eventually takes a drill to his temple to stop his killer headaches).
4. Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan finds ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) trying out for Swan Lake only to run into a rival named Lily (Mila Kunis) and her own obsession. Things get really weird, even for Aronofsky. Nina starts seeing things and it doesn’t help that her mom (played by Barbara Hershey) is the nuttiest parent since Margaret White. But hey, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have sex, so throw all the crazy you want at us, Mr. Aronofsky.
I can only be so interested in a movie about ballet, otherwise Swan would have ranked higher.
3. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Perhaps Aronofsky’s most well known film, Requiem for a Dream chronicles the exploits of Harry (Jared Leto), his mother Sara (Ellyn Burstyn), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) as they traverse through a dangerous, drug-filled existence.
This one would have ranked higher if not for the depressing subject matter. Pills, drugs, amputations and prostitution make Requiem Aronofsky’s most horrific movie (and his ass to assiest – everybody knows what I’m talking about).
2. The Wrestler (2008)
Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is a wrestler past his prime and trying to make up with his estranged daughter (played by Evan Rachel Wood). But he can’t ignore the call of the ring (or chicks with penchants for firefighters). So when he screws up with his daughter one last time he makes an ill-advised returns to the ring, the one place he truly feels at home.
Mickey Rourke made a huge comeback with this flick and it might be Aronofsky’s most accessible movie. A win/win. I wish we could say the same for The Ram.
1. The Fountain (2006)
By far my favorite Aronofsky film, The Fountain follows three different timelines, with characters played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. It’s about love, life, and loss, and it’s a truly beautiful film with amazing performances. It’s about a conquistador searching for the tree of life, a modern-day scientist on a very personal search for a cure for death itself, and an astronaut in the future looking for a dying star.
Sure, this film has some heavy themes just like any Aronofsky film, but the story and performances make it stand out. Hugh Jackman does the best work of his career in this movie, and the jumping, interconnected storylines ensure that The Fountain stays with you long after it ends.