Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac

Everyone Rated David Fincher Movies and If You Didn’t Say Zodiac Was the Best, You’re Wrong

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Hello, it’s me, your resident stan of the movie Zodiac. Yesterday, it was David Fincher’s birthday. So, color me shocked when I logged on to Twitter to see everyone celebrating his best works and everyone had different opinions on which of his movies was the best. First, it’s not a discussion; the answer is always Zodiac. Second, how preposterous an idea that anyone would think otherwise.

The thrilling tale of San Francisco during the times of the Zodiac Killer, the movie is a mix of characters and tones but does something that many movies based on serial killers don’t: It focuses on the people involved in stopping the killer and their hopelessness during the situation.

Let’s look at movies like Dahmer or even Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. To me, they glorify the serial killer, giving us a look at the monster that could kill and destroy lives without a second thought for the victims. Especially with Extremely Wicked, we often run into the problem of seemingly honoring the idea of these men rather than focusing on the monstrosity of their deeds.

Sure, maybe part of me is so obsessed with Zodiac because every character is one their own journey and having a wild time with it. Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) comes to work in the most elaborate of outfits, while Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is trying to be a good dad while also, you know, solving the puzzles that the killer sends to the newspaper.

I think part of my love of this movie comes from the fear instilled in everyone when they don’t feel safe—that idea that someone could end your life with no regard for you and there’s nothing you can do about it. I have to watch Zodiac in broad daylight, and I get the same feeling when I’m watching Mindhunter, which Fincher is also involved in.

It’s about understanding the people hurt by these monsters, following the pattern to try to stop them, and both Zodiac and now Mindhunter show us why we, as consumers, are obsessed with understanding serial killers and their motives.

But also like … this movie is just everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe serving looks. Jake Gyllenhaal is dorky and sweet.

Robert Downey Jr. is just chain-smoking with an ascot.

Also, can’t forget Mark Ruffalo rocking this look.

There are problems with Zodiac, mainly that it takes a stance on who Fincher believes to actually have been the Zodiac Killer, but then again, nothing is set in stone because we still don’t know who he was in 2019. (I’m Team Ted Cruz.) Still, for me, there is no better look at the fear of a serial killer that can’t be stopped or the obsession that can come from those trying to stop him than Zodiac.

Sure, whatever, Gone Girl is great, but … Zodiac. Happy late birthday, David Fincher. I try to convince everyone I know to watch Zodiac, so thank you for that.

(image: Paramount Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.