I did one of these a week ago with Chris Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino seemed to be the favorite. With both of those directors being current, it was easy to compare. But what if we take one of the best directors currently working versus one of the best to ever do it? Fincher has 10 major films to his name thus far, while I will highlight the 11 films of Kubrick's that are most notable.
The Killing (1956)
I'm not sure there is a single franchise with a more impressive lineup of directors than the Alien franchise. Alien3 doesn't get anywhere near the credit it deserves and is also one of Fincher's best looking films. While The Killing is an absolute classic, Alien3 has the edge for me in this matchup.
Paths of Glory (1957)
20 years later and this film still leaves me in shock by the end every time I watch it. 99% of movies these days try to make you leave the theater smelling like roses, but David Fincher went against the grain with his adaptation and truly left the audience in awe.
The Game (1997)
I dig The Game. It's creative and original. But Spartacus is fucking epic. Coincidentally, we have a father/son matchup in this look at two great directors.
Fight Club (1999)
Winner: Fight Club
Lolita showed the diversity of Kubrick early on. It's hard to really peg Kubrick in terms of his overall preference of genre. However, in this matchup, Lolita gets her ass kicked by Tyler Durden. Arguably Fincher's best movie and I would probably be able to say his most popular movie, Fight Club was a game changer for the director.
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Panic Room (2002)
Winner: Dr. Strangelove
Panic Room is a good movie, but not in David Fincher standards. Meanwhile, "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the war room!" is one of my favorite movie quotes of all time and I try to fit it into almost every conversation I have. Dr. Strangelove has some superior long takes and is overall one of the greatest satirical films ever made.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Every time I watch Zodiac I immediately think that it's my favorite Fincher film. An incredibly dark and frightening look at the Zodiac killer, this film has great performances all around and provides one of the spookiest, most heart-pounding scenes in recent history. The basement scene will forever put me on edge.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Winner: A Clockwork Orange
In my opinion, Benjamin Button is Fincher's weakest film. But that's not the sole reason it loses this round. There is a ton of brilliance in A Clockwork Orange and the iconic performance by Malcolm McDowell is something to highlight.
Barry Lyndon (1975)
The Social Network (2010)
Winner: The Social Network
This is probably Fincher's best looking film, at least I think so. It's a sharp and precise look at an extremely relevant story in our culture. I remember hearing that a movie about Facebook was being made. I laughed my ass off. Then I heard that Fincher was directing and it immediately became a film that I was really looking forward to.
The Shining (1980)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Winner: The Shining
While Rooney Mara's performance is one of the most fearless of this century, it's hard to beat Jack when he's on point. The Shining is one of the few adaptations that I feel exceeds the novel itself. One of the more creepier contributions by either director, The Shining moves up on my all time favorite films list every time I watch it.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Gone Girl (2014)
Winner: Gone Girl
I expect criticism on this one, especially since I've only seen Gone Girl once. Full Metal Jacket is an excellent film with two performances that are a serious cut above. The difference maker is the lasting impression that Gone Girl had with me. For the next three/four days I could not stop thinking about the movie or shake the uncomfortable vibe is gave me. Affleck and Pike gave us some fantastic performances and I really hope that they both get recognized by the Academy in February.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Fincher's next film will match up with Kubrick's final contribution to film. Tom's waiting...