Darren Aronofsky (born February 12, 1969) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His films are noted for their surreal, melodramatic, and often disturbing elements, often based in psychological horror and drama.
Aronofsky attended Harvard University, where he studied film and social anthropology, and then the American Film Institute where he studied directing. He won several film awards after completing his senior thesis film, Supermarket Sweep, which went on to become a National Student Academy Award finalist. Aronofsky's feature debut, the surrealist psychological thriller Pi, was shot in November 1997. The low-budget, $60,000 production, starring Sean Gullette, was sold to Artisan Entertainment for $1 million, and grossed over $3 million; Aronofsky won the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
Aronofsky's followup, the psychological drama Requiem for a Dream, was based on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr. The film garnered strong reviews and received an Academy Award nomination for Ellen Burstyn's performance. The film also generated considerable controversy due to the graphic nature of several scenes as well as its depiction of substance abuse, and was eventually released unrated. After writing the World War II horror film Below, Aronofsky began production on his third film, the romantic fantasy sci-fi drama The Fountain. The film received mixed reviews and performed poorly at the box-office, but has since garnered a cult following.
His fourth film, the sports drama The Wrestler, was released to critical acclaim and both of the film's stars, Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, received Academy Award nominations. In 2010, Aronofsky was an executive producer on The Fighter and his fifth feature film, the psychological horror film Black Swan, received further critical acclaim and many accolades, being nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director; Natalie Portman won Best Actress for her performance in the film. Aronofsky also received nominations for Best Director at the Golden Globes, and a Directors Guild of America Award nomination for his work on Black Swan. Aronofsky's sixth film, the biblically inspired epic Noah, was released in 2014 becoming Aronofsky's first film to open at No.1 at box office. His seventh film, the psychological horror mother! (2017), sparked controversy upon release due to its biblical allegories and depiction of violence, and polarized audiences.