Darren Aronofsky's known for making intense, deeply disturbing films with a rich subtext beneath all the glamour of his stars and the eccentricities of the subject matter.
Whether it's professional wrestling or New York ballet, Aronofsky knows how to get under people's skin and weird them out - and it's what has made him into such an effective director. As mother! hits cinemas this weekend and threatens to utterly polarise audiences, we decided to do a run through his filmography and rank them - because who doesn't love arbitrary lists, right?
Here's our own ranking of Darren Aronofsky's films, excluding mother!.
6. THE FOUNTAIN (2006)
The Fountain is, by far, Aronofsky's weakest film - but it's also his most ambitious since mother! Considering that he rewrote the film from a $70 million budget down to $30 million, as well as rewriting the two leads from Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, it's an achievement that it even got made. On top of all that, Aronofsky used real-life macro photography (that's where you super-zoom in to something mundane) - pretty much like Kubrick did in 2001 - for cheaper special effects. It's just a shame the film's kind of a mess, and a little bit too overblown for its own good.
5. NOAH (2014)
Noah is Darren Aronofsky's most strenuous attempt to make a commercial, big-budget film. Casting Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins in a biblical epic is one thing, but the way in which Aronofsky interprets it is something entirely different. Noah is recast as a deranged, religious zealot. The ark itself is seen as a monstrosity. Humanity, led by Ray Winstone in a career-best performance as Tubal-cain, are something to be feared and shunned. Walking rock-angels voiced by Frank Langella appear in the film. Anthony Hopkins plays the oldest man in existence. It's crazy stuff, but there is something uniquely compelling about it.
4. PI (1998)
As far as debut films go, Aronofsky pretty much set out his career with Pi in a way that few directors have. The themes that he explored in Pi are the same he's come back to again and again in his career. The idea of obsession, religion, money and commerce, mysticism all playing out in a relatively mundane and relatable setting is something he's done before, but never as pointedly as he's done here. It's a tough watch in parts, and the black-and-white format can be somewhat off-putting, but don't let that dissaude you - this is a first-rate thriller.
3. REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000)
If ever there was a film that could potentially scare teenagers off drugs, it's Requiem For A Dream. What the film does so effectively is bring the nature of addiction and the desperation it causes into focus. You can see these characters break apart under the weight of their plight, and each of them do so so spectacularly that it's painful to watch. Like a lot of Aronofsky's films, Reqiuem For A Dream isn't a pleasant, entertaining watch and the viewer is often made to feel uneasy and brutally shocked - but it does have a pay-off that is worth sticking through.
2. BLACK SWAN (2010)
If Noah was Aronofsky trying to make a blockbuster, Black Swan was him trying - and succeeding - at making a psychological thriller in the vein of early David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski. Natalie Portman cited Rosemary's Baby as one of her influences in playing the role, and the idea of body horror plays out in both the ballet work that she does and in how it affects her. Like The Wrestler and Pi, Black Swan deals with the idea of obsession and suffering for a creative endeavour, but here it's done with such grace and elegance that you'd never think it was directed by the same guy who did...
1. THE WRESTLER (2008)
The Wrestler is Aronofsky's most accessible film in a lot of ways. Not only does it feature a convincing lead that you actively want to root for, the emotions that it deals with are displayed in a real heart-on-your-sleeve way that it makes it impossible not to get carried along with it. Mickey Rourke gives arguably the best performance of his career as Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, a down-and-out wrestler who lives on the fringes of society but is still warmly embraced by fans. The film crackles with a deep and unrelenting authenticity of the experience of wrestlers, and how it rarely ends up in a good place for them. On top of all this, Aronofsky's use of stripped-back cinematography makes it all the more resonant and convincing when it reaches its climax. When you talk about sports films of any stripe, The Wrestler is to be mentioned in the same breath as Rocky or Hoop Dreams.