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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

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                                          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 Having Trouble Sleeping? 9 Quick Fixes to Help You Sleep Tonight 2 15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better 3 7 Signs You’re Burnt Out and How to Bounce Back 4 7 Simple Ways to Cope with Stress at Work and Stop Worrying 5 What’s the Best Nap Length for the Biggest Brain Benefit?

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                                          Last Updated on August 5, 2019

                                          Having Trouble Sleeping? 9 Quick Fixes to Help You Sleep Tonight

                                          Having Trouble Sleeping? 9 Quick Fixes to Help You Sleep Tonight

                                          According to surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of people living in the United States don’t get enough sleep.[1] Americans are also the least happy they’ve ever been, based on a recent U.N. report — they’ve dropped in happiness rankings for the past three years running.[2] It’s difficult to say whether poor sleeping habits and sleepless nights are causally related to unhappiness, but there is very little doubt that when you have trouble sleeping, it negatively affects your overall health and well-being.

                                          Whether you want to fall asleep faster or get higher-quality rest overall, improving your sleep isn’t necessarily difficult. Here are 9 easy things you can do to get better sleep right away:

                                          1. Write Before Bed

                                          The difficulty in getting to sleep for many people lies in an inability to shut off their thoughts. As you wind down, you’re often not only thinking about events of the day, but also on the next day’s challenges. These thoughts aren’t aimless chatter, either — they represent feelings, observations, or intentions that your subconscious has deemed important, and doesn’t want you to forget during the night.

                                          One solution is to write as many of those thoughts down as you can. Whether it’s a journal, a diary, or just a stack of post-it notes, writing down your thoughts and feelings before bed will move them temporarily out of your mind. You’ll often find this makes it easier for you to relax.

                                          2. Make Your Bed

                                          Making your bed might seem like too simple of a chore to carry with it the power to change your sleep quality. Interestingly, however, there is a correlation between making your bed and your quality of sleep.

                                          That’s right: the National Sleep Foundation compiled data from a “Bedroom Poll” and found that people who said they made their beds in the morning also reported better sleep overall.[3]

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                                          Why this correlation exists is still a mystery, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploiting it. After all, it only takes a few minutes to make your bed each morning, and chances are that if you’re reading this article, you’re probably lying awake in bed for longer than that every night anyway.

                                          3. Drink More Water

                                          You might think drinking more water would harm your sleep quality by causing you to get up at night and use the bathroom. That can happen, which is why a good hydration practice involves not waiting until bedtime to guzzle water.

                                          If you’re surprised that hydration affects sleep patterns in the first place, you shouldn’t be. Even mild dehydration dries out your mouth and nasal passages, making you more likely to snore or wake up during the night. It can even lead to nocturnal leg cramps.

                                          Whenever possible, drink plenty of fluids (non-caffeinated, if you’re having trouble sleeping) at regular intervals throughout the day. About 90 ounces of fluid a day is appropriate for most women, while most men should be getting closer to 125.[4]

                                          4. Take a Shower Before Bed

                                          During the day, your core body temperature naturally fluctuates in accordance with your circadian rhythm, which, as you may know, controls your sleep-wake cycle.

                                          Body temperature is one of the factors your body relies on to know whether it’s time to sleep or stay awake. A lowered core temperature prompts melatonin release, and the body progressively cools overnight before warming again around “wake-up” time.

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                                          This is called thermoregulation, and you can manipulate it with a warm bath or shower. The warm water heats up your body, and when you get out, your skin dries and cools quickly — triggering melatonin and other “sleep cues” in the brain.

                                          5. Take a Night Drive (In Your Imagination)

                                          This is a visualization technique similar to what many therapists recommend to treat stress and anxiety, and one of many such techniques put forth by the National Sleep Foundation.[5]

                                          Think of a drive or ride you take often (your daily commute to work, for example). Now picture yourself getting in your vehicle, pulling out of your parking space, and commencing the trip. Try your best to focus on the road and imagine each stop, turn, curve, and landmark. Chances are, you’ll be asleep before you reach the second mile marker.

                                          6. Quit Coffee

                                          Of all the ideas on this list, you might be most opposed to trying this one. After all, if you’re already groggy and tired in the mornings from not sleeping well, coffee might be the one thing that seems to help you get going.

                                          Unfortunately (especially for those who drink coffee for the taste), the same caffeine that is your best friend in the morning becomes your enemy at night, disrupting your circadian rhythm and promoting an unhealthy cycle of wakefulness.

                                          You might think, “Sure, but I don’t drink caffeine at night.” What you might not know is that the quarter-life of caffeine is a full 12 hours — meaning if you drink a cup of coffee at noon, a quarter of the caffeine from it is still in your system at midnight.

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                                          Ditching caffeinated stuff for decaf or hot tea might be difficult in the short run, but it will make it easier to relax and wind down later in the day. If you find that you just can’t give it up, try to drink your caffeine as early as possible in the day to help minimize its late-night effects.

                                          7. Try Dinner for Breakfast

                                          While nutritional science is still in its infancy in many ways, its research has already made waves in demonstrating how what we eat affects us. Potassium, for instance, benefits the body in many ways — including acting as a mild muscle relaxant.[6]

                                          Protein, meanwhile, may be billed as the muscle-building nutrient, but did you know it also aids in sleep?[7] Another key to getting quality rest is making sure the body’s blood sugar level stays regulated — something a good source of light carbohydrates can help immensely with.

                                          Put all that together and what do you get? A prescription for breakfast at dinnertime. A banana for the potassium, some eggs for the protein, and some carbs, like a piece of toast or bowl of oats, will prime your body for a relaxing night of high-quality sleep. (Just leave out the coffee.)

                                          8. Try the ARMY’s 2-Minute Technique

                                          If there’s one organization that absolutely can’t afford groggy employees, it’s the military. To guard against mistakes committed by sleep-deprived soldiers, the U.S. Army trains its members in a technique to fall asleep within 2 minutes.[8] Here’s how it works:

                                          1. After getting ready for sleep (teeth brushed, alarm set, etc.), lie down in a comfortable position (you can also do this in your car, in which case just lean your seat back)
                                          2. Tighten all the muscles in your face, then let them relax as much as possible
                                          3. Let your shoulders and arms relax as well
                                          4. Clear your mind for 10 seconds, trying to think of nothing at all
                                          5. Picture one of the following: you’re lying in a canoe, in a calm lake with clear blue skies above; or you’re in a velvet hammock, gently swaying in a pitch-black room

                                          If this doesn’t work right away, it may be worth trying again. The best results are reported after several weeks of consistent practice.

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                                          9. Get More Exercise

                                          When it comes to packing everything into your schedule, do you prioritize extra sleep or extra exercise? The truth is you need both to maintain your health. The solution might be to focus on exercises that have been documented to actually benefit your sleep quality.

                                          For example, doing 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise after waking up in the morning has been shown to improve sleep quality in adults. According to at least one survey, those who exercise are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to report getting good sleep each night.[9]

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          While these tips can be highly effective, it’s important to remember that poor sleep can also be caused by underlying medical conditions. That said, in many cases, lifestyle changes have been shown to be more effective than medication at improving sleep in the long term. Either way, it’s a good idea to discuss these kinds of issues with your physician or healthcare provider.

                                          Whatever you decide, trouble sleeping isn’t something you should ignore. Lack of sleep can contribute to a number of serious health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

                                          You spend up to a third of your life asleep, so if you want to improve your quality of life and overall well-being, it stands to reason that your sleep habits are a good place to start!

                                          More About Getting Better Sleep

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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