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20 21st Century Movies Picked By Top Film Directors You Don’t Want To Miss

20 21st Century Movies Picked By Top Film Directors You Don’t Want To Miss

Film directors including Antoine Fuqua, Sofia Coppola, Paul Feig, Denis Villeneuve, Brett Ratner and Alex Gibney recently spoke to The New York Times about their favorite movies of the 21st century to date.[1] Below, I highlight 20 of the choices. This is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for great movies you haven’t seen or haven’t even heard of.

Antoine Fuqua’s Selected Films

Antoine Fuqua himself has directed Training Day, The Magnificent Seven, and other films. His selections included:

Fences (2016)

    Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, the film takes a passionate look at former Negro-league baseball player Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) as he fights to provide for those he loves in a world that threatens to push him down. Fences was also directed by Washington. It’s adapted from a play by August Wilson, who Fuqua says “would be proud” of the output.

    Watch Fences here.

    Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

      Fuqua’s comment on the movie,

      “It took us into a world that I have never seen before and executed it in a visceral, gritty way. It was not only moving, but it was heartfelt, dangerous and entertaining.”

      When a penniless, eighteen year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai comes within one question of winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, a police investigation reveals his amazing story. Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards®, including Best Picture of the Year and Best Director, Danny Boyle.

      Watch Slumdog Millionaire here.

      Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

        Fuqua on this movie,

        “A world undiscovered by some, in our own backyard. And it doesn’t use the tricks of Hollywood.”

        Newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis is Hushpuppy, the tenacious six-year-old force of nature in an isolated bayou community. When her tough but loving father Wink (Dwight Henry) succumbs to a mysterious malady, the fierce and determined girl bravely sets out on a journey to save him. But Hushpuppy’s quest is hindered by a “busted” universe that melts the ice caps and unleashes an army of prehistoric beasts.

        Watch Beast of the Southern Wild here.

        Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

          Fuqua notes it does something a lot of movies don’t,

          “sustained intensity and tension, even when it was only two people in the room talking.”

          For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. It’s the story of that search and ultimate raid/assassination.

          Watch Zero Dark Thirty here.

          Sofia Coppola’s Selected Films

          Coppola is best-known for Lost in Translation, as well as being the daughter of Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola. Here are some of her selected films:

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          Force Majeure (2014)

            Here’s how Coppola commented on the film,

            “I loved the little moments, the details that said so much.”

            This is the story of a model Swedish family—handsome businessman Tomas, his willowy wife Ebba and their two blond children— on a skiing holiday in the French Alps. The sun is shining and the slopes are spectacular but during a lunch at a mountainside restaurant, an avalanche suddenly bears down on the happy diners. With people fleeing in all directions and his wife and children in a state of panic, Tomas makes a decision that will shake his marriage to its core and leave him struggling to reclaim his role as family patriarch.

            Watch Force Majeure here.

            The White Ribbon (2009)

              Coppola loves the black-and-white photography.

              In a village in Protestant northern Germany, on the eve of World War I, the children of a church and school run by the village schoolteacher and their families experience a series of bizarre incidents that inexplicably assume the characteristics of a punishment ritual.

              If you like old-time photography to convey the WW1 sense, this may be for you too.

              Watch The White Ribbon here.

              The Savages (2007)

                Coppola loved the acting of the two main performances, by Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

                Until recently, all John and Wendy Savage (Hoffman, Linney) had in common was a lousy childhood and a few strands of DNA. But after years of drifting apart, they’re forced to band together to care for the elderly, cantankerous father who made their formative years “challenging.” In the process, both of these aimless, perpetually adolescent forty-something’s may just, at long last, have to grow up!

                If you love good acting, this is a good film to try out.

                Watch The Savages here.

                Paul Feig’s Selected Films

                Paul Feig is considered one of the best comedy directors working today — especially for women — having helmed Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters, among others. His selected films are:

                Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

                  Feig on the movie,

                  “One of those movies I could watch over and over again, because it was just so out of left field. In comedy, we feel that we’ve seen it all and done it all, but then an original voice comes in and you go, damn.” It is truly an original movie.

                  From the rural town of Preston, Idaho, comes Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder). With a red ‘fro, his moon boots, and illegal government ninja moves, he is a new kind of hero. When his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) decides to run for class president, it is Napoleon to the rescue to help him triumph over adversity.

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                  Watch Napolean Dynamite here.

                  This Is The End (2013)

                    Feig says,

                    “They pulled off all those elements that seemed like they couldn’t work — it was emotional and funny and they did it playing themselves.”

                    While attending a party at James Franco’s house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse. Kevin Hart and others make appearances.

                    Watch This Is the End here.

                    Amelie (2001)

                      This film was nominated for five Academy Awards, and Feig says,

                      “it’s so literal and yet stylish. You fall in love with her immediately.”

                      A painfully shy waitress working at a tiny Paris café, Amelie makes a surprising discovery and sees her life drastically changed for the better. From then on, Amelie dedicates herself to helping others find happiness…in the most delightfully unexpected ways.

                      Watch Amelie here.

                      Denis Villeneuve’s Selected Films

                      Denis Villeneuve is most recently the director of Blade Runner 2049. He has also worked on films including Arrival. His selected films are:

                      A Prophet (2009)

                        Villeneuve pulls out one scene for The New York Times, 

                        “The deer being killed in slow motion by a car in “A Prophet” (2010) remains one of the most powerful cinematic shots of the last decade.”

                        An impressionable and vulnerable Arabic man gets thrust into a hellish prison, and ironically discovers greater opportunities for success than he ever possessed outside of the bars.

                        Watch A Prophet here.

                        Dogtooth (2009)

                          Villeneuve says,

                          “The madness in “Dogtooth” (2010) is the most refreshing thing I’ve seen in a long time. Yorgos Lanthimos may be one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. I’m still laughing at the crazy adults running to catch airplanes falling into their garden, because their father convinced them that they were fruit dropping from the sky.”

                          Three teenagers live isolated, without leaving their house, because their over-protective parents say they can only leave when their dogtooth falls out.

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                          Watch Dogtooth here. 

                          Dogville (2003)

                            Villeneuve on the movie,

                            “The idea of making a set without walls to show the cowardice of a community was genius.”

                            When a beautiful young Grace (Nicole Kidman) arrives in the isolated township of Dogville, the small community agrees to hide her from a gang of ruthless gangsters, and, in return, Grace agrees to do odd jobs for the town’s people. But as the search for her intensifies, they demand a much better deal. What they don’t know is that Grace has a dangerous secret, and their quiet little town will never be the same.

                            Watch Dogville here.

                            Brett Ratner’s Selected Films

                            Brett Ratner is famous for working on the Rush Hour films as well as Hercules and other big box office movies. His selected films are:

                            The Kid Stays In The Picture (2002)

                              Ratner simply calls this “one of the greatest documentaries ever made”.

                              Success. Scandal. Sex. Tragedy. Infamy. Robert Evans knew them all, and in this provocative and compelling documentary, he reveals how one of the greatest winning streaks in Hollywood history almost destroyed him. From his early acting days to his stellar rise as head of production at Paramount and involvement in a well-publicized cocaine sting, Evans’ meteoric career reveals the moviemaking industry during one of its most glamorous and scandal-filled periods.

                              If you enjoy documentaries, consider it.

                              Watch The Kid Stays in the Picture here.

                              The Pianist (2002)

                                Ratner on the movie,

                                “It will go down in history as one of the greatest Holocaust motion pictures ever made.”

                                The Pianist, stars Adrien Brody in the true-life story of brilliant pianist and composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, the most acclaimed young musician of his time until his promising career was interrupted by the onset of World War II. This powerful, triumphant film follows Szpilman’s heroic and inspirational journey of survival with the unlikely help of a sympathetic German officer.

                                Watch The Pianist here.

                                Borat (2006)

                                  Ratner calls it legitimately “one of the best comedies ever made.”

                                  Sacha Baron Cohen brings his Kazakh journalist character Borat Sagdiyev to the big screen for the first time. Leaving his native Kazakhstan, Borat travels to America to make a documentary. As he zigzags across the nation, Borat meets real people in real situations with hysterical consequences.

                                  Watch Borat here.

                                  Alex Gibney’s Selected Films

                                  Alex Gibney has directed the film Taxi to the Dark Side. These are some of his selected films:

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                                  City of God (2002)

                                    Gibney references the opening scene, featuring a chicken and a knife, as classic.

                                    The streets of the world’s most notorious slum, Rio de Janeiro’s “City of God” are a place where combat photographers fear to tread, police rarely go and residents are lucky if they live to the age of 20. In the midst of the oppressive crime and violence, a frail and scared young boy will grow up to discover that he can view the harsh realities of his surroundings with a different eye, the eye of an artist.

                                    Watch City of Gold here.

                                    Michael Clayton (2007)

                                      Gibney makes an interesting point about what you can learn from this film,

                                      “Great take on corruption. My favorite scene is when [George Clooney] takes care of a client who is too arrogant to know how much trouble he is in. Want to understand the 2008 financial crisis? Watch this scene.”

                                      Clayton cleans up clients’ messes, handling anything from hit-and-runs and damaging stories in the press to shoplifting wives and crooked politicians. Though burned out and discontented in his job, Clayton is inextricably tied to the firm.

                                      Watch Michael Clayton here.

                                      Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

                                        Gibney argues that this movie can make you think about major societal issues,

                                        “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about torture. This film gets deep into the horror of it all and the imagination that’s needed to survive it.”

                                        Following a bloody civil war, young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer. Armed with only her imagination, Ofelia discovers a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother. But soon, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and before Ofelia can turn back, she finds herself at the center of a ferocious battle between good and evil.

                                        Watch Pan’s Labyrinth here.

                                        No Country for Old Men (2007)

                                          Gibney gives it high praise,

                                          “The ultimate post-9/11 film that has nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the politics of the Iraq war. It’s about a brutal force of terror that can’t be bargained with and can only be understood with the wisdom of a lawman philosopher.”

                                          When a man stumbles on a bloody crime scene, a pickup truck loaded with heroin, and two million dollars in irresistible cash, his decision to take the money sets off an unstoppable chain reaction of violence. Not even west Texas law can contain it.

                                          Watch No Country for Old Men here.

                                          There’s a good chance you haven’t seen all these films, or even heard of them. But people who love and respect the craft of filmmaking as their own career point to these as stellar movies made since 2000. Give them a chance. You may even learn quite a bit about history or new parts of the world in the process.

                                          Reference

                                          More by this author

                                          Anna Chui

                                          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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                                          Published on January 23, 2020

                                          How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says)

                                          How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says)

                                          “How many hours of sleep do I need?” This is a commonly asked question.

                                          The subject of sleep and how much of it one needs has been controversial over the last ten years, especially in this digital-obsessed era we’re living in. You might be surprised by what science is now saying about how many hours of sleep you need. However, I’d like to mention, it’s easy not to get enough sleep, especially if our sleep patterns are wacky or out of sorts.

                                          Without a healthy sleep routine, it’s nearly impossible to get those needed hours. I know this because I struggled with insomnia for almost a year. After I evaluated the way I was spending my evenings, I realized that I was only getting five or six hours of sleep, not even. Science says that if you want to wake up revitalized and refreshed, you must focus on how much shut-eye time you’re actually getting.

                                          Understanding Your Circadian Rhythm and Why You Should

                                          The National Sleep Foundation describes the circadian rhythm as:[1]

                                          “the body’s internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.”

                                          Essentially, the clock is in your brain and thrives on a regular sleep pattern. So, if you’re someone who stays up throughout the night, you’re setting yourself up to feel lousy or rundown at certain times the next day.

                                          If you typically have a dip in energy levels in the afternoon, that’s a sign that your circadian rhythm is off. This would explain why at 2:00 or 3:00 P.M., you feel the dreaded down slump and need a caffeine booster. It’s your brain begging you to regulate your sleep pattern (not go out and get more coffee to stay alert).

                                          Once the sun goes down and gets dark outside, our brains, the pineal gland to be specific, begins producing and secreting melatonin. Light exposure, such as from our phones, interrupts this process. Thus, the interruption comes with a consequence. The longer we prolong or intervene in our brain’s natural abilities to prepare us for sleep, the longer our dip in energy during the day lasts. It’s worth it to pay attention to these spurts of energy changes and why they’re occurring.

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                                          Deep Sleep is essential to health and well-being. That’s when your muscles repair, your body replenishes and revitalizes your immune system, keeping it afloat. But we need enough deep sleep. Ensuring that you get the appropriate amount of sleep is essential if you want to prevent illness and maintain wellness.

                                          The Consequences of Limited Hours of Sleep

                                          There are people out there who think that it’s okay to get only five or six hours of sleep or less. Someone actually said to me, “I’m great on six hours; you sleep plenty when you’re dead.”

                                          The thing is, people believe six hours is enough and it’s not. Lack of shut-eye time leads to numerous consequences.

                                          When I dealt with insomnia, I developed some symptoms which I noticed after just two nights of lost hours of sleep. I experienced hair loss, muscle tightness, and my sinuses would swell the skin around my eyes and cheekbones. Others noticed these ailments and overtime they can become chronic issues. Your risk of heart disease will radically increase.

                                          Additionally, I found myself losing energy as early as 12:00 noon and having spurts of energy at different times of the day. Those spurts of energy only lasted under an hour. And those dips would come, and I’d be in the middle of work yearning for a long nap (I abused naps, by the way, and snoozed too long).

                                          Consequently, the naps or lengthy siestas muddled my sleep pattern. You don’t want to nap for too long, though a fifteen-minute nap is quite rejuvenating.

                                          As I stated earlier, our brains thrive on patterns, mostly sleep patterns or a regimen. It is something I now take seriously–having a regimen and hygiene schedule that sets me up for a smooth next day.

                                          How to Develop a Healthy Sleep Regimen

                                          Sleep regimens promote good, strong health. The amount of time you spend planning your days, you should spend the same amount of time preparing for bedtime.

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                                          No matter how busy my schedule becomes, I make the effort to wind down after I’ve had my dinner. Come 7:00 P.M., I’m doing something meditative or meditating. Yoga is another activity I do in the evening. It’s so calming and relaxing.

                                          Since sleep is something that can easily become a problem for me, I try to make the effort to prevent insomnia from rearing its ugly head. We creatives though, can be insomniacs at times. Regardless if you have health problems or not, a bad sleep regimen will very quickly cost your physical and emotional health and in not much time.

                                          By engaging in meditative activities or simply spending an hour doing Yoga is the best way to quiet busy thoughts and ease into the next chapter of your day or night.

                                          Some other things I do in the evening is painting, cleaning or organizing; projects that I don’t get to do during my workday. I like to put my brain to work for at least a half-hour with the goal of tiring me out. I don’t recommend doing overly stimulating things such as sitting on social media or staring at your phone’s screen for too long.

                                          For me, it can be a mental fight to put that darn cell phone down and rest my eyes. Our brains easily mistake the blue light on our screens for sunlight and will confuse the process of secreting melatonin or serotonin. At sundown, our brains are the first to prepare for sleep but how we conduct our lifestyle should be a priority. You must allow a window, maybe an hour in the evening, to decompress and relax.

                                          How To Regulate Your Sleep Schedule

                                          To overcome insomnia or sleep disturbances I had, I focused on maintaining a sleep schedule. Between 10:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. is a healthy regulatory sleep pattern. I am an early bird usually and like to rise at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning.

                                          I find myself going to bed some nights at 9:30-10:00 P.M. and rising at 6:30 A.M. and I feel very refreshed on that schedule. And, I have energy all throughout the day and don’t want to take naps once the 2 or 3 P.M. afternoon arrives. A regular sleep patterns lessens the intensity of those down slump episodes or eliminates them all together.

                                          The energy dips I used to battle with have gone away. On a solid number of hours of sleep, our energy levels don’t fluctuate so much or as drastically.

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                                          I know my circadian rhythm is fully tuned when I wake up in the morning with no alarm. That’s right. I don’t like greeting a morning with an alarm my brain might mistake for a fire truck siren. In fact, science now says alarms are not good for our mental or emotional health.

                                          Why Alarms Are Unhealthy and What to Do If You Need One

                                          A sleep cycle typically lasts ninety minutes. Alarms, if they go off too soon while you’re still in this sleep cycle, can disrupt a natural process which will determine how awake and refreshed you’ll feel upon rising. The price of this is bigger than you may realize.

                                          Interrupting a sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy all day or as if you’d spent the previous night partying until 4:00 in the morning. I call this a ‘sleep hangover.’

                                          Needless to say, sleep hangovers are unpleasant. It will take your brain and energy levels loads of time to sync up and become regular again. I blamed my issues with fatigue on the alarm, and rightfully so.

                                          These days, I rise naturally and doing so has reduced my fatigue and brain fog. Some mornings, if I have a lot on my plate, I may set an alarm by choosing soft music or positive affirmations. You don’t need to open your eyes to the sound of a voice telling you that you’re awesome, but why not?

                                          If you desperately need an alarm and don’t trust yourself without a wake-up call of some kind, get one that maybe plays soothing music or repeats a meditative mantra of your choosing. Apps on your phone can do this.

                                          If you’re prone to insomnia, I wouldn’t recommend sleeping near an electronic device. Instead, put your phone at the opposite end of your room. That way, when it goes off, you’ll be forced to get out of bed.

                                          How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get?

                                          The hours of sleep you should get depends on you. Six or seven is no longer enough, and science is now saying to get at least eight or nine. On nine hours, your brain has successfully processed all the sleep cycles necessary for optimal cognitive functioning.

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                                          You must hit all the stages so you don’t feel like a walking zombie the next day. If you’re not with the program, people will notice and lack of sleep can result in declining performance at work.

                                          Lack of sleep also affects how sharp and quick your mind responds to situations in every setting of your life. Memory is also one of those things. In just about every career, we rely on our memory. And let’s be real. A lot of the time, life is a test of how good we are at remembering details of things. The next time you find yourself saying, “It’s all right if I work really late tonight and wake up early the next morning.”

                                          No matter how much you think you’ve got it all together on five or six hours of sleep, keep that up and you’ll find yourself having a lot of costly oopsies throughout your day.

                                          Burnout is more detrimental to your health, career, and overall life than you may realize until something irreversible occurs. You don’t want it to reach that point when you’ve done something you can’t take back because you were exhausted or wiped out.

                                          Bottom Line

                                          Nine hours of sleep is what you should strive for. However, I know how life can interfere. A solid night of sleep can help you manage any stresses life can or maybe is throwing at you.

                                          If you’re anything like me and your mind is constantly buzzing with one thing to the next, create an effective sleep routine–one that promotes a peaceful night of sleep.

                                          And if you’re someone who has to use their cell phone during the night, turn off the blue light and dim that screen. But remember that those nine hours of sleep and the time you spend in the couple of hours beforehand will make or break tomorrow.

                                          Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] The national Sleep Foundation: What is Circadian Rhythm?

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