Darren Aronofsky, the master of psychological dramas and horrors, is back with another hit, The Whale. This time, Aronofsky will tell the story of a six-hundred-pound man who’s trying to reconnect with his daughter, adapting the screenplay of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter. For the occasion, the Harvard University alum will join forces with Brendan Fraser for the first time in their respective careers. The Whale premiered in Venice earlier this year, and the reception has been excellent. Many critics are already considering it one of the best Darren Aronofsky movies.
Now, it’s up to Aronofsky to reconquer the fans’ hearts after his 2017’s Mother! received a lukewarm reaction. Since 1998, the New York City-born artist has been generally praised by critics for his ambitious and poignant films. The Academy Award-nominated director also recorded some box-office successes, including Black Swan and Noah, proving he can be a fan-favorite storyteller.
Here’s the list of the best Darren Aronofsky movies to watch after The Whale.
Aronofsky’s long feature film debut is one of the most bizarre and artistic stories ever made. The surrealist plot sees a number theorist (Sean Gullette) unable to have regular social interactions due to his peculiar way of seeing life as numbers and formulas. His goal is to program his computer to make stock predictions, but something is always missing. Pi is one of the best movies about mathematicians, but it also explores religion, mysticism, the irrationality of human behavior, and more. The movie grossed over $3.2 million, which is a substantial commercial success considering it cost a little more than $100,000 to be made. The cast included Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, and Samia Shoaib, among others.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Two years after his directorial debut, Aronofsky premiered what many people consider his best movie to date at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. Requiem for a Dream follows the story of three Coney Island addicts through different seasons of their lives. In addition to the excellent performances by Ellen Burstyn — who picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Actress –, Jennifer Connelly, and Jared Leto, the movie is also remembered for its unmistakable soundtrack composed by Clint Mansell. Every occasion is a good one to rewatch the harrowing story of Sara, Harry, and Marion. The adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.’s work of the same name — Selby Jr. being one of Aronofsky’s favorite authors in school — grossed about $7.4 million at the end of its theatrical run.
The Wrestler (2008)
Aronofsky’s third movie, a fantasy sci-fi drama titled The Fountain (2006), wasn’t as successful as expected, but the New York City artist bounced back with the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a wrestler whose days of glory were long gone. After suffering a heart attack following a match, Robinson attempts to reconcile with his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). The Wrestler also starred Marisa Tomei, and both Tomei and Rourke received Oscar nominations as Best Actress and Actor, respectively. The movie is considered one of the best movies of 2008 and one of the best Darren Aronofsky movies overall.
Black Swan (2010)
The commercial success finally came for Aronofsky in 2010, when he directed a masterful psychological horror featuring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder. Nina Sayers (Portman) is a young ballerina who lands the protagonist role in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Her metaphorical and actual transformation from a White Swan Odette-like girl into a real Black Swan Odile is uncanny. Thanks to her magnificent performance, Portman won Oscar for Best Actress that year. The film grossed more than $329 million at the box office, the second-best success in Aronofsky’s career.
After a four-year hiatus, Aronofsky returned with another box-office hit as he undertook the biblical story of Noah’s Ark. Briefly, God appears to the titular character and asks him to build an ark to save humanity and animals. The movie received mixed reviews from critics, with many underlying the director’s visual wonders while others pointing out its excessive reliance on unnecessary digital effects. Fans seemed to appreciate Noah, though, which earned more than $359 million at the box office. Aronofsky collaborated with Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Connelly again, but the ensemble cast also featured Russell Crowe, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Anthony Hopkins.