Stephen Green asks the question and I give the answer: Darren Aronofsky, director of the upcoming $125 million biblical epic Noah, has been my favorite director since I was a senior in high school more than a decade ago. All of his films are awesome and anyone who disagrees with me on this is wrong. They have just not learned how to engage intellectually with the layers of meaning embedded in Aronofsky’s films. His five movies are each stand-outs in their genres:
1998’s low-budget, sci-fi thriller Pi is smart, artsy, and visually unique. It’s hard to think of more intelligent, creative science fiction films in the last 15 years.
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2000’s unrated, ultra-depressing drug drama Requiem for a Dream remains my favorite film of all time, one I saw four times while it was in theaters. I have never experienced a film that delivers as intense of an emotional experience than Requiem. It is perfection in all realms across editing, music, acting, writing, and cinematography. The best drug film, the best movie about addiction, and really the scariest, best horror movie of all time too.
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2006’s deeply under-appreciated sci-fi fantasy epic The Fountain is overwhelmingly beautiful, the opposite of Requiem. It’s Aronofsky’s 2001 except with soul. I could have this move on repeat all day.
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The soundtrack is similarly knock-you-on-your-ass. One of my favorite tracks:
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2008’s The Wrestler and 2010’s Black Swan should be understood as two sides of the same coin. Ballet and wrestling each express idealized masculinity and femininity capable of swallowing up their participants whole. Both tragic protagonists sacrifice their own identities to their crafts. These films continue the pattern established by the mad mathematician of Pi, the four drug addict dreamers of Requiem, and the crusader cancer researcher of The Fountain.
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Don’t like Aronofsky? Fine. Name a director under 50 who has made more great films than he has in the last 15 years. Last year John Boot made a list of his top 5 Generation X directors. For me I would’ve flipped his 5 and chopped off his top 3 picks. Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Steven Soderbergh are all absurdly overrated and inconsistent. P.T. Anderson with 5 perfect films (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and The Master) and Jason Reitman with 4 perfect films (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult) are the only ones I can think of who are really in Aronofsky’s league. Or is there anyone else I’m forgetting who’s made at least 4 or 5 stunning, watch-them-over-and-over again A-level movies?