Darren Aronofsky’s movies ranked from worst to best
If you’re a fan of Darren Aronofsky and horror mystery movies probably you’re going to love Mother!. Sure it’s a bit early to say whether or not Aronofsky’s latest movie is actually good because it opens next month, but some of the clues lean towards YES.
First of all it’s written, produced and directed by Aronofsky. Secondly it has 2 Academy Award winners in the leading roles (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) and stellar cast in the supporting roles. Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stefan Simchowitz just to name a few.
Thirdly (if you were paying attention) it’s the first feature picture of the acclaimed director after 3 years (or after Noah) and it’s actually the third project in his career that was entirely written by him. After Pi and the Fountain of course.
Oh and the movie has exclamation point in the title. Awesome.
The first trailer for Mother was released earlier this week and I can’t wait for the movie to come to theaters. Mother! opens on 15 September but what about his movies leading to Mother?
Aronofsky had some master pieces and not so great movies since making it big with his film debut Pi. That was 19 years ago, and since then he’s been a strong and artistic presence in Hollywood. Always eclectic and innovative, sometimes misunderstood Aronofsky is versatile in the themes, genres and actors that occupy his movies. But what are his best and worst works?
Let’s brake them down shall we?
Noah – 2014
Aronofsky’s vision about the story of Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis was his a bit let down for me. I don’t care that much about biblical themed movies and was a bit too long and tedious for my taste. But I appreciated his direction and I’m always excited to see Russel Crowe on screen, so I mussel through it. He first became interested in the story of Noah in the seventh grade actually and as part of a creative writing assignment, he submitted a poem about Noah entitled “The Dove”. Years later, after finishing the movie Pi, he was searching for ideas for his next movie and thought that a movie about Noah would be a good idea. He first discussed Noah with The Guardian in April 2007 and Principal photography began in July 2012.
The movie however did received strong reactions from several religious figures (and from several different religions too) and was banned in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Indonesia prior to its release because. Mostly because it is seen by the governments of those countries as contradicting the teachings of Islam, but despite all of that Noah is also his most expensive project to date. With 125 million of production budget, the movie did earned over 300 million at the box office, officially making it highest grossing movie in his career.
Pi – 1998
Ah… Aronofsky’s film debut. Shot for $68,000 budget Pi was a mind twisting film for me. Mostly because I’m not that math savvy but I actually found Pu compelling and engaging although I had to watch it several times to actually get a better grasp of what was going on. It covered The game of Go and but also the teachings of Islam and Kabbalah, and actually got better with time for me.
Filmed on high-contrast black-and-white reversal film, fun fact about the movie is that due to the small budget and then unknown director behind it, no location permits were secured for any of the scenes filmed. The crew had to have one man constantly serving as a lookout for police so they could stop filming if needed. Also most of the budget was raised in the form of individual $100 contributions from the director’s friends and family. When it was later bought by Artisan Entertainment, each contributor got back a $150 return on their investment. Artisan bought the movie for $1,000,000.
The Fountain – 2006
The Fountain was Aronofsky’s passion project around year 2000, or right after the release of Requiem for a dream. Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchett were first attached to the film but abruptly, Pitt, (whose requested screenplay revisions were not met), left the project seven weeks before the first day of shooting. But the funny thing is…. Aronofsky drew inspiration to write The Fountain long before that. Right after he saw The Matrix to be exact. He sought to make a science fiction film that would explore new territory in the genre like The Matrix and its predecessors Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The director actually had in mind a science fiction film that would go beyond the other films whose plots were driven by technology and science. When it came down to casting, he saw Hugh Jackman perform as Peter Allen in the Broadway musical The Boy from Oz. And he was impressed so much with his performance that it didn’t bothered him that Jackman already had very muscular physique from shooting X-Men. Jackman suggested to cast Rachel Weisz as his character’s wife and the British actress became not only his leading lady in the movie but for a long period of time in his private life. She’s also the mother of his only child. Despite having mixed reviews and reactions, The Fountain has become a cult movie and It was listed as number 484 on Empire’s 500 Greatest films of all time.
The Wrestler – 2008
When I comes to career resurrecting movies, The Wrestler is to Mickey Rourke what Pulp Fiction is to John Travolta. The fierce but nuanced performance from Rourke in The Wrestler actually brought him back to life. From a washed out actor, he was once again respected and admired thanks to this film.
And while some praised the movie for honesty and accurate portrayal of professional fighters, some prominent figures in the business criticized the film for being an unrelentingly depressing view of the professional wrestling world. The film won the Golden Lion at the 65th Venice International Film Festival, and was nominated for two Academy Awards (both for acting for Rourke and Marisa Tomei). Fun fact about the movie is that just only 12.5 minutes of 110 minute run-time include actual wrestling but it’s a fantastic sports drama never the less.
Black Swan – 2010
I’m almost there. Black Swan actually deals with a lot of running themes in Darren’s movies. Self-doubt, fear of failure and striving for perfection in one of Aronofsky’s stylish and beautiful pieces of film history. He first became interested in ballet when his sister studied dance at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City but put a few elements in the script from All About Eve, Roman Polanski’s The Tenant, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella The Double.
And while it had some controversies regarding the costumes and Natalie’s body double, Black Swan had its world premiere as the opening film at the 67th Venice Film Festival. There the movie received a standing ovation whose length Variety said made it “one of the strongest Venice openers in recent memory“ and from there on, it was a breeze for the project. The movie won dozens of awards including an Oscar for Natalie Portman in the leading role.
Requiem for a Dream- 2000
We haaave a winner! Yup. You’ve guessed it. For better or for worst, Requiem for a Dream remains to this day the best Darren Aronorsky movie. Period. Not only it’s scarier than any horror film in existence it was stylishly beautiful as it was heart-wrenching. Daren used fantastic hip hop montage again (as he did in Pi) and who can forget Clint Mansell’s addicting score for this movie? Sure the performances from Jared Letto, Jennifer Conelly were terrific but can we talk about Ellen Burstyn’s acting?
Personally I think she was robbed at the Oscars next year (damn you Julia Roberts) and it’s really hard to separate which character story is more soul crushing and depressing. But hey if you wanna have a good cry, take a look at Ellen’s „I’m old“ monologue (in the scene with Letto). You’ll be crying like a baby and you might want to give her a hug at the end of it. My friend calls it the perfect movie to scare off your child from becoming an addict. Just show him this movie and he/she will be fine.