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Darren Aronofsky's Top 5 Films

Darren Arronofsky focuses on diverse and heartbreaking stories about the human experience.

Number 5

Black Swan

Black Swan is an important film. It stars the amazing actress Natalie Portman and depicts the chaotic and borderline toxic world of ballet. Just like in Aronofsky’s film Pi, we see our protagonist’s descent into madness. It is scary, depressing, and heartfelt. However, the fault of the film is its plot. The use of an evil double personality is something seen many times before in films and is hardly innovative. This film took a lot of its inspiration from the plot and cinematography of the Japanese Animated film Perfect Blue, which I can’t help but see as a more frightening depiction of the same concepts.  


Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan'
Natalie Portman in ‘Black Swan’


Number Four

The Wrestler

A slice of life film about self-destruction, reconnection, and humanity. Similar to The Whale, one of the largest draws of the film is the critical redemption of an actor. Mickey Rourke was on a descent towards obscurity after multiple facial injuries from boxing caused multiple surgeries on his face. Fortunately, Aronofsky felt that the character of Randy “The Ram” Robinson was in a similar position to Rourke, which led to the casting. This makes the film extremely personal and compassionate. A small story that depicts a former wrestler finding his way without being able to do the one thing he knows. The slow pace will definitely lose a few members of the audience, but the ones that stick around will not be able to help loving Randy the Ram.


Number Three


Aronofsky’s freshman film. A bite-sized anxiety-inducing black-and-white feature about a man’s descent into madness. Pi is an excellent experimental film that thrusts us into the shoes of a socially anxious genius. The music, cinematography, and acting are all used to set the dark, experimental tone for the film. Although it’s a complete story, it is truly an experiment. A filmmaker’s first film tests the waters for what is to come. Pi is fantastic, but it leaves more to be desired in a larger, grandiose story.


Sean Gullette in ‘Pi’


Number Two

Requiem for A Dream

Aronofsky’s magnum opus, Requiem for a Dream, is a look into drug abuse, mental health, and the objectification of women. It is an extremely important and harrowing film to watch. Being such a dark, unrelenting film, there are points where it comes off as melodramatic. I do believe this is a subject of time. The culture of the early 2000s focused on dramatization and the extreme saturation of traditional films. Even through that, the film remains one of the most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching films to date.


Jennifer Connelly in ‘Requiem for a Dream’


Number One

The Whale

One location, a loveable protagonist, an empathetic message, and family drama. These elements make The Whale a spectacular film. It is a character study of Charlie, a morbidly obese man struggling to redeem himself in his final days. This film is built around the fantastic performances from not only fan favorite Brendan Fraser but also co-stars Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Ty Simpkins.

The film also has a strong statement to make about obesity. With the title being The Whale, one can only assume without seeing the film that they are referring to Fraser’s character. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The novel Moby Dick is mentioned throughout the film and is a large part of both Fraser and Sink’s characters. Prejudice and discrimination are extremely present in the lives of those living with obesity. This film strives to show the human experience through Charlie’s reality.


Brendan Fraser in ‘The Whale’