A Definitive Ranking of Sigma Films – Emi S & Isabel T

Ever watched a film starring Ryan Gosling and thought “he’s literally me”? Sigma films, often stories of a man (the archetypal ‘underdog’) simply not ‘fitting in’ with society, are an increasingly prominent staple of internet culture today. As resident film connoisseurs, Isabel and I will introduce you to either new or familiar territory, giving you an insight into our top picks.

But which Sigma tops the list? Mine and Emi’s self regarded film enthusiasts will provide our personal opinions of these Sigma favourites.

10. The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan

Isabel: ‘Heath Ledger’s Joker outshone the protagonist himself . All characters’ arcs are disappointing to say the least. Could’ve invested in some better lighting, the pathetic fallacy was taken slightly too far.’

Emi: ‘I’ve already talked about this on the Bubble (see ‘The Dark Knight is mid: a rant‘) but spoiler: I’m not a fan.’

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

9. Nightcrawler by Dan Gilroy

Emi: ‘This film made me feel claustrophobic from start to finish, creating a really intense atmosphere and some of Gyllenhaal’s most vibrant acting to date. Very intriguing premise, I just wish they would have done more with it.’

Isabel: ’10/10 script for this. Including the iconic mirror shaking scene and my personal favourite quote; ‘If you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy the ticket’. One of the best Gyllenhaal performances from a slightly restrictive and limited plot sequence’

“What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people but that I don’t like them?”

8. The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorcese

Isabel: ‘I hugely despise the avid fans of this movie, usually teenage boys who categorise Belfort’s life and career into the ‘ultimate lifestyle’. DiCaprio provides a slightly too realistic performance, but for a 3 hour film, it did not lack in continuous unpredictable events throughout.’

Emi: ‘Some hilarious and entertaining sequences in this film, with stellar use of narration. However, it’s too self aware; upon the third or fourth rewatch the hilarity becomes irritating as Scorsese points the camera at Leonardo DiCaprio and says ‘Look! Isn’t this the height of comedy? Are you not uncontrollably laughing at the over-indulgent and insane antics of these rich people?”

“Sell me this pen.”

7. Drive by Nicholas Winding Refn

Emi: ‘Poignant and evocative, with some great scenes of tension. Instantly recognisable soundtrack and gorgeous colour palette, plus Bryan Cranston. What’s not to like?’

Isabel: ‘If it has Ryan Gosling starring, I do not doubt the excellence of this film.’

“What do you get out of it?”
“Just that. Out of it.”

6. Joker by Todd Phillips

Isabel: ‘Joaquin Pheonix was pretty much made for this role. Joker was very well written, even though the involvement of politics did seem to outweigh the central idea of the film. One of DC’s best films.’

Emi: ‘Personally could not care less about this film’s connection to the DC universe, but the acting and cinematography elevate this film to a plane of its own. Runtime is a little long for this story and could have probably done with a bit of trimming, but overall a really solidly enriching view into depth of character.’

“You wouldn’t get it.”

5. The Big Short by Adam McKay

Emi: ‘Steve Carrell never ceases to amaze me in this film. It’s so good I almost hate it, but somehow I think that’s the point. From Christian Bale demolishing Pantera’s ‘By Demons Be Driven’ to the most hilarious stichomythic arguments ever – definitely in my top 5 of all time… still don’t understand why they can’t just print more money though.’

Isabel: ‘If you like Wolf of Wall Street, this is the more understandable, acceptable and arguably better film regarding similar ideas. Brad Pitt was tucked away within this film, sporting a terrible haircut and beard. This film did lose me when condescendingly explaining the housing market. Criminally underrated.’

“That’s a nice haircut. Did you do it yourself?”

4. Se7en by David Fincher

Isabel: ‘My favourite film to this day. Fincher, you have outdone yourself. The cinematography strangely complimented the psychological thriller/horror. Nothing can compare to the box scene, one of Brad’s best works. RIP Gwyneth.

Emi: ‘An extended trailing narrative which weaves through gruesome murder and heartwarming relationships. A bit of a slow burn with some really dimly lit scenes but nonetheless a really worthwhile watch; it’s especially rewarding if you invest yourself.’


3. Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese

Emi: ‘An absolute classic, which I often choose to watch as a satire because some of the editing choices make me laugh – the choppy slow-mo fight scenes, for example. The first time I watched it the emergence of the 3rd act really confused me, as it had a completely different tone and storyline to the rest of the film, feeling a bit disconnected from the initial set up. Despite this, it holds up as a true sigma classic. Gets points for jazz.’

Isabel: ‘An absolutely iconic film, that was way ahead of its time. DeNiro’s character was brilliantly written as your average American man, but the whole plot involving Iris felt distanced and seemed to sway back and forth between politics and other life aspects. DeNiro’s mohawk deserves a review on its own.’

“I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, I believe that one should become a person like other people.”

2. American Psycho by Mary Barron

Isabel: ‘I have huge respect for Bale taking on one of the most complex characters, and even through its subtle satire it has proved as a widely respected film for its complex plot. Will forever be considered as a key sigma film.’

Emi: ‘What a legendary film. Great adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ satire and perfect casting for each character (yes, even Jared Leto). Iconic tunes, iconic outfits, iconic scenes.’

“I have to return some videotapes.”

1. Fight Club by David Fincher

Emi: ‘Lovely gritty David Fincher – saying I adore this film may be understating it. Endlessly rewatchable with such a driving force throughout the entire film, it has consistently intriguing changes of pace and direction style. And the feel of this film is something else; the trinity of Norton, Pitt and Bonham Carter have such chemistry together. Plus, I wrote my entire EPQ on this – take that as validity of its status on this ranking.’

Isabel: ‘Fincher, you have done it again. Norton embodies the character brilliantly through this mind-straining plot twist and definitely requires rewatching. One cannot be considered as a film connoisseur without having this in their top 10. Including two highly regarded sigma characters, it tops the list without further discussion.’

“First person that comes out of this door gets a lead salad! Understand?’

And that makes our list.

Our choices are non-negotiable.

We’ll inevitably return with more objectively correct opinions on film at some point.

Until then, we highly recommend these films are rated in your letterboxd account.

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