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BBC Has Concluded A List Of Best 25 Films In The 21st Century That You Should Not Miss
If I ask you to name some of the best movies in the 21st century, what will you say?
The Lord of The Rings? A Beautiful Mind? Little Miss Sunshine? Finding Nemo? Her? Inception? The Martian? Inside Out? Moonlight? Or La La Land?
There’re many amazing films released over the last 17 years. Some are very popular among the public, some get nominated or even receive widely-recognized awards. They’re all amazing in their unique way but some of them really stand out from the crowd.
BBC Culture recently reached out to 170 famous film critics around the world and asked them each to pick the best 10 films released from the beginning of 2000 to present days. And based on the critics’ votes, BBC has come up with the list of the 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films.1
Here’re the best 25 films with the review from BBC:
25. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
Christopher Nolan’s Memento, an airtight puzzle of a movie about a man who can’t form new memories searching for his wife’s killer, set a standard for narrative sophistication that few mainstream films have tried to duplicate…The film forces us to consider the unreliability of human memory and our tendency toward self-deception, even as it thrills us with a captivating crime-noir story…Unforgettable. – Eric D Snider, Freelance, US
24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious, powerful and ultimately elegiac masterpiece centres on the question of whether man is, in fact, an animal. Tormented alcoholic Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) returns from World War Two and struggles, unsuccessfully, to conform to post-war America’s social evolution…but the real point of the film is an exploration of thought and consciousness, and whether submission to belief systems can genuinely tame atavism. – Ali Arikan, Dipnot TV, Turkey
23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
All of Michael Haneke’s films are bound to haunt you. With Caché he cuts to the chase and makes the idea of haunting the theme of the story itself. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche star as a bourgeois Parisian couple that start to receive disturbing video tapes showing their home…The act of not looking away is the moral imperative at the heart of Caché, which makes it a supreme political and cinematic movie at the same time. – Hannah Pilarczyk, Der Spiegel, Germany
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
The 21st Century’s reigning empress of cinematic ennui, Coppola has always used celebrity as a shortcut to the loneliness that exists between private lives and public images… Lost in Translation as her most perfect film, the one that best articulates how it can be to find yourself in a world that seldom lets you forget where you are. – David Ehrlich, Indiewire, US
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the 21st Century’s farewell salute to the century before. It vaults backwards in time from today to 1985 to 1968 to 1932, where Ralph Fiennes’ concierge Monsieur Gustave welcomes us to proper civilisation with a nod. We know Gustave’s immaculate world is ticking towards destruction, first by war, then by decades of neglect. Inevitably, the lazy and impersonal present will win, mass-producing not just our hotels, but our cinemas and the blockbusters on their screens… This oddball tragicomedy enlists us in the fight for beauty. Sir, yes, sir. – Amy Nicholson, MTV, US
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Synecdoche, New York was initially conceived when Charlie Kaufman was approached about doing a horror film. Instead of masked killers and extraterrestrial monsters, though, Kaufman set out to make a movie about the stuff that really keeps us up at night. Synecdoche, New York is every deep-seated fear you’ve ever had, writ large: you’ve disappointed your spouse and failed your children, you’ve let your loved ones die lonely, excruciating deaths… Kaufman’s masterpiece is a reminder that even at our lowest and darkest, we are not alone. – Angie Han, Slashfilm, US
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
A cohesive vision with a structured journey built around themes of survival and endurance, the fourth entry in the dystopian franchise showcased what is otherwise the narrative and thematic drought within the Hollywood blockbuster machine… Without resorting to cheap cynicism and faux-grittiness, Miller zeroes in on the sensuality of the environments, the carefully crafted machines and scorched landscapes. – Justine A Smith, Freelance, Canada
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
“By setting the story in a north German village in the months prior to World War One, Haneke not only challenged the myth of childhood innocence but also delivered a fictional prequel to the upcoming events in Germany… it speaks to this century’s audiences: an unsettling view of the danger of righteousness, an ominous threat that always seems to recur. – Fernanda Solórzano, Letras Libres Magazine, Mexico
17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
It’s Del Toro going back to his roots, to his alchemy of pop and auteur cinema, to give us a look into the horrors of war – in this case the Spanish Civil War… Pan’s Labyrinth gives us tragedy through the filter of fantasy, going deep into a well of suffering and magic. Its power lies in its purity: nothing we can imagine is as terrible as what we can do to each other. – Ana Maria Bahiana, Freelance, Brazil
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
Holy Motors is not a movie. It is an act of grief designed as an expression of love, and while enfant terrible Leos Carax has been an essential director for any film fan since his debut… Surreal, silly, sexy and sad, Holy Motors is a guided tour through everything about cinema that matters to Carax. He was drowning as a man in his own life – Holy Motors was his first feature in 13 years after struggling to get financing – and he turned his art into a life raft. Movies matter. Here’s why. – Drew McWeeny, Hitfix, US
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
One scene, one cut, zero music… Imbuing a backstreet abortion with the brutal tension of a crime thriller – and abortion was a crime in 1980s Romania… Yet despite much harrowing imagery, depicted in unblinking detail within a fraught 24-hour timeframe, the film’s underlying humanism is glimpsed through the unbeatable spirit of protagonist Otila, a college student who takes unthinkable risks and goes through grueling lengths to help her friend Gabita fix her unwanted pregnancy. – Maggie Lee, Variety, Hong Kong
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)
Few films have dared to capture the full spectrum of human evil so candidly, so perceptively, as Oppenheimer does in his unclassifiable non-fiction epic in which the Texas-born Danish film-maker convinces members of the death squads to reenact their murders in the style of their favourite Hollywood films… it’s about national amnesia, about the power of self-deceit and the questionable morality of truth-seeking… it’s one of the most celebrated documentary in 21st Century. – Joseph Fahim, Freelance, Egypt
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
Here’s a bold statement about a bold movie: Children of Men, like no other film this century, and perhaps no other movie ever, solves the meaning of life… it’s rich and vital in its emotional and philosophical depth: its sadness, its anger, its reverence and worry for humanity… Children of Men has endured to become a cult favourite that should be required viewing for anyone grappling with feelings of dread about modern civilisation. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair, US
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
Zodiac, his meticulous, gorgeous and haunting true crime movie, is a deep dive into obsession, following a newspaper cartoonist who becomes consumed by the 1970s Zodiac murders… Gloriously detail-driven, Zodiac drags viewers into a compulsive world where the smallest hint can be the biggest clue, and it presents the obsessive’s worst nightmare: that, in the end, answers are utterly unattainable. – Devin Faraci, BirthMoviesDeath, US
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)
Set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s, the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is an achingly melodic tribute to an unloved underdog. Davis (Oscar Isaac) is striking out on his own after his musical partner goes solo. Along his dour journey, he’ll find others vying for similar success and others just trying to survive… Inside Llewyn Davis is a solemn song for anybody trying to become somebody. – Monica Castillo, The New York Times’ Watching, US
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
Bardem’s film characterisation is so powerful, so splendidly overwhelming in his random application of violence, that he manages to extinguish whatever preceded it in the mind of the audience. Set in West Texas in 1980, the film’s sense of time and place are unparalleled… There’s a hypnotic quality to the movie’s pace, watching characters you can’t help but like… make a series of catastrophic decisions that bring each into Chigurh’s universe, a world soaked in blood with a predetermined outcome. – Ben Mankiewicz, Turner Classic Movies, US
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
If there is a film that makes you take a deep look at yourself in the mirror again and again, this is it. Asghar Farhadi’s searing relationship drama does not make a judgement about its characters. Rather, it pitches the situations so realistically that the viewer ends up sympathising with both protagonists even though they are pitted against each other… all made to look as if one is watching one’s neighbours, or maybe someone in one’s own home – create an unparalleled cinematic morality play. – Utpal Borpujari, Freelance, India
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
Audiences in 2000 were astonished by how fluently Edward Yang’s Yi Yi portrays contemporary life through the intermingling stories of members of a Taipei family separated by the dilemmas specific to their stations in life. That’s quite ironic, because in today’s world of personal alienation through the allure of social media, the film now feels like a period piece, yet somehow, it resonates with an even greater urgency… Its quiet reflections on life, love, family and death are all gracefully affecting, no matter the gap in generation and culture. – Oggs Cruz, Rappler, Philippines
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Like a great poem, The Tree of Life opens itself to a thousand interpretations, as director Terrence Malick takes a spiritual and lyrical journey through time, from a dusty 1950s childhood in Texas back to the beginnings of the cosmos itself… The joys and aching losses of parenting become transcendent, even Biblical, in Malick’s hands. – Kate Muir, The Times, UK
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
The story of a breakup gone wrong… But this wasn’t your average whimsical tale of romantic yearning… the movie belongs just as much to Kate Winslet, whose character’s decision to erase her own memories of the ex-couple’s time together sets the drama in motion. Eerie and surreal, charming and tragic, the movie wrestles with the fundamental instability of all human relationships, achieving a wise and powerful vision that is — ironically for a tale about fading memories — unforgettable. – Eric Kohn, Indiewire, US
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
For more than a decade, Richard Linklater spent a few weeks each year chronicling the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane)… and watching the cast, which also includes Ethan Hawke and a remarkable Patricia Arquette, age before our eyes, adds an extra layer of poignancy to every single scene. In an era when every aspect of society was accelerating, Linklater slowed down to tell the one of the definitive stories of our time. – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush, US
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
Miyazaki’s story of a young girl trapped in the spirit world, trying to rescue her parents, feels like a throwback to an earlier age of hand-drawn animation… it has an ambitious sweep to its elaborate visuals of Japanese spirit-monsters and a sense of soaring adventure. It’s a traditional fairy tale turned into an exciting narrative of transformation and discovery. – Tasha Robinson, The Verge, US
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
From its near-wordless opening scene, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood feels like something forged, not filmed. Daniel Day-Lewis, as turn-of-the-century prospector Daniel Plainview, grunts, spits and scrapes his way into a hole under baked Western earth; he strikes silver, drags his half-broken body to certify his claim…The rest of the movie – a sprawling, half-mad testament to greed, industry, moral hypocrisy and ballyhoo at their most elementally American – could be watched with no sound at all and still be perfectly understood. – Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post, US
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
Wong Kar-wai is one of world cinema’s most notorious perfectionists, but he earned every moment of editing-room indecision with In the Mood for Love… We never see the faces of the spouses whose affair pulls two lonely neighbours into their delirious romantic spiral… all the better to heighten the erotic charge of every swaying hip and every voluptuous swirl of the camera. And we never hear the lost, whispered words at the climax… never before has a film spoken so fluently in the universal language of loss and desire. – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, US
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
WH Auden called Los Angeles “the great wrong place”. James Ellroy called it “the great right place”. The idea that two, or more, seemingly conflicting ideas can simultaneously be true is so often forgotten in the zero-sum culture of today, but it’s at the heart of David Lynch’s empathetic masterpiece… Mulholland Drive is a reverie of sex, suicide and “silencio”…. Lynch’s film is so gorgeous and so painful, so mysterious and, in many ways, so recognisable – drive on the actual road, Mulholland, at night, and then walk from Western to Vermont, and you’ll see – that, whatever theory you ascribe to it, the picture does indeed reflect a reality that moves beyond southern California and parks itself in our brains, tapping into our dreams, deepest fears, inscrutable natures, erotic desires, and pool boys. – Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun, US
Are some of your favorite films on the list too? And have you got any ideas about what to watch up next?
This is just the top 25 from the list of the greatest films, check out the complete list on BBC Culture here .
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