Director: Darren Aronofsky

Before the powerfully depressing Requiem for a Dream, Mickey Rourke's comeback-vehicle The Wrestler, and Natalie Portman's Oscar-winning psycho-horror flick Black Swan, Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky was a struggling first-time filmmaker with little money and huge ideas.

The result of his pre-fame hunger is Pi, a black-and-white mind-warp about an unstable math whiz (Sean Gullette) whose obsessive work gains unwanted attention from Hasidic extremists, Wall Street players, and his own insanity.

For bleak, hypnotic atmosphere, Pi is tough to beat.