The 50 greatest films of the 21st Century

This is one of those well-regarded films that, for some reason, left me cold

Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Dragon-2000-coverThe BBC surveyed 177 film critics “from every continent except Antarctica. “For the purposes of this poll, we have decided that a list of the greatest films of the 21st Century should include the year 2000” because the year “was a landmark in global cinema.”

Though I started this blog in 2005 and reviewed many of the films I’ve seen over the years, I wasn’t as detailed in the beginning. Still, my reviews will be the items that are hyperlinked. The movies I saw, the number will be italicized. A few movies I am not familiar with I’ve designated DK (don’t know).

I know that sometimes a movie doesn’t work for me – or you – for reasons not in the film. There are at least three films on this list that most people I know love, and they just didn’t work for me, in the theater, on that day. Very few films on this list did I see first on video; actually only one.

50. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015) -DK
49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) – DK
48. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015) – I was captivated
47. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014) – DK
46. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010) – DK, even though it has Juliette Binoche in it, I’ve discovered
45. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013) – I really wanted to see this, but it played too briefly here
44. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013) – No I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to see it.
43. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011) – this I DID want to see about a rogue planet about to collide with Earth, and how that affects people
42. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012) -it’s very good but depressing as hell
41. Inside Out (Pete Docter, 2015) – the research done for this animated film about the emotions of a preteen girl makes the film work so well

40. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) – I remember being impatient with the sprawling scenery part taking too long, but crying at the end
39. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005) – saw the ads about the Pocahontas story, but we weren’t seeing films then
38. City of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002) – saw the trailer often, and read enough about this to know it was probably too violent for my taste
37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010) – DK
36. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014) – DK
35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000) – I remember being mesmerized by the action sequences
34. Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015) – this Holocaust film I saw the trailer for about a half dozen times, and IT was depressing
33. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) – I found Heath Ledger’s death depressing and just wasn’t into seeing this at the time
32. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) – saw the trailer, looked interesting – the monitoring of East Berlin residents – but didn’t
31. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011) – DK, and this film has an interesting backstory

30. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)- DK
29. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008) – it took me a while to get into it, and I was distracted. As I reread my review, I liked it better than I recall it.
28. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002) – I didn’t see this one? Don’t know why; it was on the list of films to see at the time.
27. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010) – I liked it. My review gave it short shrift because I was seeing lots of films at that time.
26. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002) – Meant to see this one! Didn’t.
25. ​Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) -Meant to see THIS one. Didn’t.
24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012) – Thought to see this one…
23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005) – ANOTHER Juliette Binoche film I DK; the Daughter WAS one y.o.
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003) – this is one of those well-regarded films that, for some reason, left me cold. Well-performed. I feel the need to see it again.
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014) – I was exceedingly fond of this, starting with the trailers
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008) – there may be no film I wanted to like more than this, and… Actually, I enjoyed most of it, but I got lost in the final acts.
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015) – with all the Oscar-nominated films out there, this wasn’t at the top of the list, and time not being fungible, never saw
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009) – saw the trailer, didn’t see
17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006) – Oscar-nominated, thought to see, didn’t
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012) – DK
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007) – I wanted to see this, but knew I had to be in the right frame of mind – two students in Romania who try to arrange an illegal abortion – and I never did see it.
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012) – saw the trailer. It’s a “documentary film about the individuals who participated in the Indonesian killings of 1965–66”. I thought to see it, but I suspect it didn’t stay in town long enough.
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006) saw the trailer about “global human infertility, civilization is on the brink of collapse as humanity faces extinction”. Yet I probably would have seen, given time.
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007) – I just wasn’t in the mood
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013) – well-acted, with authentic performances, and a great atmosphere. But the title character was SO pathetic, I didn’t much enjoy the film.

10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007) – Oscar winner, and it looked so violent that I passed
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011) – saw the trailer, really wanted to see
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000) – DK
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) – wish I had seen, because people seemed to either love or hate this
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) – the only movie on this list I saw on a video. I love this film, I relate to this film, about memory, and whether one can/should block them out. My favorite movie on this list.
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014) – yes, I enjoyed it, but I was probably more awestruck about the commitment of the director and the actors to a dozen-year project
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001) – I remember enjoying it immensely, and realize that The Daughter might enjoy it.
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) – Oscar-nominated, Daniel Day-Lewis, and I STILL wasn’t in the mood to see it. A few months later, I stumbled over the LAST 10 MINUTES of the film, on YouTube. Yes, I watched it. Now I feel I ought to see the rest.
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000) – DK
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001) – didn’t watch the television show Twin Peaks (I tried), and I’ve never seen a David Lynch film, except Elephant Man. Hmm.

So that is 12 of this 50, plus 14 of the other 52, making 26 of 102. Some of these I plan to see, now that I’ve been reminded of them. Quite a few I will NEVER see. And that’s all right.

Thanks to Don, my Facebook compadre, for the idea.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “The 50 greatest films of the 21st Century”

  1. I paid actual coin of the realm to own copies of two of these: Eternal Sunshine and Spirited Away. I have no idea what, if anything, this means.

  2. Synecdoche, New York and Mulholland Drive would be #1 and #2 on my list. And it’s close between them. Both are brilliant movies that I can watch again and again and still find new wonders every time.

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