1. David Fincher
Best Music Videos: “Express Yourself”, Madonna (1989); “Vogue”, Madonna (1990); “Cradle Of Love”, Billy Idol (1990); “Freedom '90”, George Michael (1990); “Straight Up”, Paula Abdul (1998); “Janie’s Got A Gun”, Aerosmith (1994)
Best Movies: Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Social Network (2010)
At their best, David Fincher’s movies tap into mankind’s darkest psychological terrain, presenting damaged characters and subdued nihilism through gloomily lit cinematography. So it should came as no surprise that he first cut his directorial teeth shooting such bleak music clips as…Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”? And Madonna’s lively ode to supermodel chic, “Vogue”?
OK, so Fincher’s pre-cinema video efforts were mostly pop-centric and bubbly, but the visuals were always uniquely compelling; it wasn’t until 1994’s “Janie’s Got A Gun,” though, that the now-prolific and mega-gifted director displayed his austere brilliance. Staged like a brooding thriller, the Aerosmith clip is a mini-movie that transpires like a tragic Lifetime Movie funneled through a nightmarish prism.
It’s a fitting preamble to Fincher’s filmmaking breakthrough, the following year’s magnificent serial killer downer Seven, which laid the foundation for his string of desolate humanity meditations of the uncomfortably humorous (Fight Club), patiently macabre (Zodiac), and fascinatingly naturalistic (The Social Network) varieties. Two Academy Award nominations later (both for Best Director), it’s no wonder that Fincher’s book-to-film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is this year’s most anticipated film across all platforms; trust, it’s most definitely going to be more Janie than Paula.