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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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                                          1 How to Relieve Stress: 9 Quick Relaxation Techniques 2 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life 3 7 Effective Ways to Cope with Stress 4 Why Am I So Tired Even After Rest? 5 Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Fatigue Symptom (& How to Boost Energy)

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                                          Last Updated on December 9, 2019

                                          How to Relieve Stress: 9 Quick Relaxation Techniques

                                          How to Relieve Stress: 9 Quick Relaxation Techniques

                                          According to The American Institute of Stress, finding one single definition of stress is difficult, since everyone experiences it in their own way.

                                          We can reference the age-old Epictetus quote that says, “people are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.” If we subscribe to this ideology, we can see how the statistics for stress are on the rise, with the latest numbers averaging 70% of the United States population experiencing symptoms of stress. Not only that, but these symptoms have turned to physical manifestations in the body in the form of disease, as well as mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.[1]

                                          In our fast-paced world, finding stress is easy. With too much going on, and too many tasks to handle, stress is the simple by-product of having too much on our plate, with not enough hours in the day.

                                          The leading causes of stress have become work/career, money, and the future of the world (whether politically or socially within local communities). Stress at work has become the unfortunate driving force, with an estimated 80% of workers reporting a stressful work environment.[2]

                                          When we’re feeling stressed, there are a number of physiological changes that our body undergoes: headaches, fatigue, aches, pains, digestion problems, insomnia, increased blood pressure, clenching of jaw, tightness in the muscles, and many more. Likewise, we develop emotional and mental symptoms, as well, such as agitation, low energy, racing thoughts, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.[3]

                                          Thankfully, with a plethora of external research on the subject, stress management has become a priority in balancing work, life, and anything in-between. Major global economies, corporations, and organizations have shifted their approach to how we view stress, therefore creating more holistic work-life environments that aid in stress relief.

                                          So how can you relieve stress with a few simple techniques?

                                          1. Find Time to Exercise During Your Day

                                          Exercising doesn’t have to take up hours of your time. We may not all be able to make it out to the gym or to a class for a couple of hours every day, but finding moments in your day in which to prioritize movement is a great way to begin the habit.

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                                          Write in a time on your calendar to take a cardio class at your local gym at least once per week, and commit to that time. Drive straight from work if you have to, therefore eliminating the temptation to stay home.

                                          Take a walk during your lunch hour, instead of just working through lunch. Set up alarms and reminders on your phone to keep you accountable.

                                          Here’re more ways to help you: 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise

                                          2. Stay Hydrated with Healthy Fluids

                                          We may need a couple of cups of coffee to get us started in the morning, but that addiction has its ups and downs. Did you know that large amounts of coffee during the day elevate your cortisol levels, much in the same way that stress does?[4]

                                          Choosing to cut your day’s fluids with water, herbal tea, or sugar-free smoothies or juices is a good way of balancing the energy you get from food.

                                          3. Leave Your Work at Work

                                          So often, we take our projects and tasks home with us after a long day’s work. When those to-do lists cross the threshold of our home, we begin to lose the boundaries between being an employee and being a human being with a family, friends, and a social life.

                                          Keeping those boundaries clear, and leaving work at work is a key technique in being able to enjoy the rest of your day, every day, to do the things that bring you joy, thereby reducing stress and leaving it at the door.

                                          4. Make Time for Fun

                                          Whether it’s going out with friends to a movie once per month, or catching a game or a concert, having fun is something we often put off on the back burner.

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                                          How many times have you run into an old friend and suggested you meet up, and then never follow through? We’re all guilty of it.

                                          Life gets in the way; but just like we can plan our entire work day, we can also plan time for unwinding and enjoying the simpler things.

                                          5. Meditate

                                          Meditation is a fast-growing practice, and for right reason. Not only does it lower cortisol levels, which feed stress; it also promotes deep relaxation and rest.

                                          You can meditate in the morning before your day begins, to set the tone for how you’d like to approach your day’s tasks; or you can meditate at night before bed, to ease your way into a restful sleep and detach from the day’s events.

                                          No matter when you decide to practice, initiating it is the first step. If finding and going to a local meditation class isn’t accessible for you, tune into the many free guided meditation apps on your phone, such as Insight Timer, Headspace, or Calm.[5]

                                          You can also take a look at this guide: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

                                          6. Carve out Time for Self-Care

                                          This could be your perfect time to treat yourself. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive nor complex. It could be something as simple as taking a nice bubble bath at the end of a long day, or treating yourself to a picnic during the weekend. As long as it’s making time for yourself, it’s self-care!

                                          Self-care not only alleviates stress, but also puts you back into the present moment, where you can enjoy the day and yourself without chasing future thoughts.

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                                          Try one of these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

                                          7. Consider Supplements

                                          Even though most of our vitamins and minerals are derived from food, sometimes we need additional supplements to fill in the gaps.

                                          Vitamin C and D are high in increasing our energy, especially in the colder months where the sunshine is low and citrus fruit is not always readily available.

                                          Likewise, Omega-3 fatty acids that you would get from seafood and avocado have been proven to reduce anxiety by up to 20%, and they’re very healthy for your immune system and digestion. [6]

                                          8. Diffuse Essential Oils

                                          Our olfactory system – our sense of smell – plays a key role in how we can relieve stress. Think back on your favorite smell and how you feel when you notice it. There’s often a sense of immediate relaxation, as if tension is simply falling away.

                                          Essential oils have long been used in aromatherapy to do just that, and these days, purchasing essential oils and diffusing them at home, in your office, or even in the car has never been easier.

                                          Some popular scents that have proven to relieve stress and anxiety are lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, lemongrass, and rose, among others.

                                          Aside from diffusing, consider topical applications on the inside of your wrists, temples, and soles of the feet, for a long-lasting, all-day effect.[7]

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                                          9. Keep a Journal

                                          Another proven tactic for eliminating stress is to begin a journaling practice. Begin each morning by opening up your journal and doing a Thought Dump. This involves writing down anything that may be on your mind, whether it’s from the night before, or a thought that you woke up with. It’s also helpful to write down any dreams that you may remember.

                                          The idea behind this practice is that once you dump out any thoughts that you may have, you’re clearer to prioritize your day. It’s almost as if you’re creating a new blank slate.

                                          Additionally, writing down your thoughts allows you to process and analyze them from a detached perspective, without them festering and turning into stressful recollections later.

                                          Learn more about journal writing: How to Use a 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          With as much as we’re juggling in our everyday routines, stress is the unfortunate stalker lurking in close shadows.

                                          We can give in to the stressful habits and patterns that keep us locked in physical and mental pain; or we can redirect our habits into something more productive, therapeutic, and healing.

                                          Thankfully, with the resources and techniques at our disposal, those habits are much easier to implement than we think.

                                          More to Calm Yourself

                                          Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] Daily Life: What is Stress?
                                          [2] Global Organization for Stress: Stress Facts
                                          [3] WebMD: Stress Symptoms
                                          [4] VeryWellMind: Caffeine, Stress, and your Health
                                          [5] Huffpost: The Power of Meditation
                                          [6] Healthline: 16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
                                          [7] VeryWellMind: Essential Oils for Stress Relief

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