With only The Fountain in my blindspot (I know, I know), I went chalk. Requiem for a Dream gave me everything I needed to know about addiction and, in turn, it gave me an early taste of the power of independent cinema. Aronofsky's supercuts can still be recalled exactly as they were when they were first implanted on my teenage mind.
And I'm from Pittsburgh, PA.
I'm voting for Requiem for a Dream, partially because of how good it is, but also — and I know this will sound odd — because of the nostalgia factor. I first saw Requiem in college, when I was just starting to take movies seriously, and I remember being blown away by everything about it. Yes, it was sad, and bleak, and brutal, but it was also full of powerful performances and the kind of filmmaking bravado I was just learning to recognize and appreciate. Here was a filmmaker who was trying to tell a story using every tool at his disposal, who was trying to wed narrative and technique in an innovative way, and I found the whole thing intoxicating. Yes, it's depressing, but in terms of gutsy, edge-of-your-seat, fearless filmmaking, I don't think anything else Aronofsky has made comes close.
Aronofsky's films are about dedication...to a job, a lifestyle, addiction or a calling. The Black Swan allows the audience to experience the physical, emotional and psychological trauma that Nina Sayers endures in her dedication to and pursuit of a role that may be beyond her reach. Aronofsky's camera doesn't shy away as he allows us to experience the body contortions, psychological breaks and harsh birth of Nina into the Black Swan. Production design and audio design excel here as they truly enhance the visceral experience of the Black Queen transformation. This is Aronofsky's high watermark for sure.
I voted Requiem, although it is the one film on the list that I am positive I will never watch again.
The Wrestler came at the perfect time for Mickey Rourke. The scenes of him working on the deli counter, initially enjoying interacting with customers, then subsequently hating being there and storming out, are funny and relatable to anyone stuck in a job they hate. I also love the reconciliation scene with his daughter at the beach, and the line "I'm just an old broken down piece of meat".
Keep up the good work guys!
John, Poole, UK.
I have seen every single film of Aronofsky's (I am one of the few that actually loved Noah), but I think the camera work and editing in Requiem for a Dream makes it the winner. That violent shaky camera during the scene when Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans are going through withdraw is enough to give you chills. Still does.
It almost feels counter-intuitive for a director this given to flashy flourishes and showy editing, bur I really have to go with the relatively spare The Wrestler. It's still got a lot of visually and aurally commanding moments (walking into his hundrum job with yesteryear's crowd roaring in his ears, that magnificent ending), bur it's also Aronofsky at his most restrained, stepping back just enough to let one of the best performances of the 21st century take the spotlight. The result is one of the most electrically charged small, austere character studies of all time.
I'm lying. I would have voted for True Grit. No, wait, The Fighter. No, wait... shit!
I voted for Black Swan, but seriously considered Pi and The Fountain. The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream are both interesting films, but I found them relentlessly grim and also quite repetitive (especially Requiem). Pi and The Fountain feel more like experiments in film than fully realized movies to me, although I'll happily rewatch the conquistador and bald-Hugh-Jackman-in-a-mystical-space-bubble scenes whenever the opportunity presents itself. I saw Black Swan in the theater twice, and found it to be a very effective psychological thriller as well as a sharp examination of an obsessive, somewhat damaged, young woman's character. The performances are great, by Natalie Portman obviously but also by an amazing supporting cast including Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder.
It's certainly a better film than The King's Speech, which beat it for the 2011 Best Picture award. Though I won't go so far as to claim that Black Swan should have won the award that year, when its competition included The Fighter, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, and True Grit. I would have voted for Toy Story 3.
I voted for The Fountain, one of my favorite films and one of the few science fiction films of the 21st century that can fairly be called both a visionary epic and heartbreakingly intimate. It was my favorite film of 2006, and I'll just keep standing here, waiting for everyone else to finally catch on. Not to be too self-aggrandizing, but I recently wrote an analysis of The Fountain in my essay series, The New Classics, at www.artsbham.com: http://www.artsbham.com/the-new-classics-the-fountain/
Also, I have to say -- I love most of Aronofsky's other films, including and especially the wildly underrated Noah, which deserves reevaluation. The only one that doesn't quite work for me: Black Swan, which makes me a little nervous for mother!
I picked The Fountain, because of all of Aronofsky's films, this is the only one that provided me with something resembling a religious experience. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are at the top of their acting game, but particularly impressive is Ethan Suplee in a supporting role, which again shows just how good Aronofsky is at coaxing great performances from all his actors. Criminally underrated, and always worth a revisit.
In only one of these does Russell Crowe throw a fire ball.
I feel like we've seen the best of Aronofsky at this point. Since The Wrestler, it's been a repeat of telling stories that test a main character's endurance over and over again. With Mother! it feels like another trip down the familiar road with a dash of Gaslight and the Tenant. some folks were stoked at this trailer, but I was more like a firm meh.