David Fincher is underrated. I understand that’s silly to say, given how technically proficient and stylistically brilliant Fincher is. He’s a critics' darling, and now – with Gone Girl -- he’s proving he can deliver commercial hits, as well. But when it comes to working with actors, few offer praise to Fincher, despite the number of career-defining performances he coaxes out of actor after actor, in film after film.

Ben Affleck’s impossibly comfortable turn as the self-centered Nick Dunne struck me as yet another combination of a perfect Fincher choice, followed by a seamless performance under the director’s watchful eye. And I realized it was the latest of many. Here, then, are the 10 A-list actors who gave career-defining performances in a Fincher film, starting with the most prestigious of them all:

Michael Douglas
10. Michael Douglas, The Game
Nicholas Van Orton is Michael Douglas, right? Wealthy, indifferent, consumed by his selfish personal interests and safely ensconced in an Ivory tower created by success. And yet, the "Game" (and his collaboration with Fincher), calls Douglas back to the impulsive projects and hasty decisions he made as an up-and-coming actor – from Romancing the Stone to Fatal Attraction or The Star Chamber. By the end of The Game, both Nicholas Van Orton AND Michael Douglas woke up to the possibilities. Do you think it’s a coincidence Douglas moved on to Wonder Boys and Traffic after collaborating with Fincher? A suddenly alive actor, chasing that high.

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