Advertising
Advertising

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:

          Advertising

          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.

                  Advertising

                  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.

                          Advertising

                          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:

                                  Advertising

                                  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 Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

                                          23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good 50 Life Purpose Quotes to Give Meaning to Your Life How to Live Life to the Fullest How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

                                          Trending in Restore Energy

                                          1 How to Get Deep Sleep in 5 Steps Naturally 2 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life 3 How to Deal with Stress at Work in Times of Corona 4 Benefits of Having a Pet: Why Keeping Pets Gives You Positive Energy 5 7 Signs You’re Burnt Out (And How to Bounce Back)

                                          Read Next

                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising

                                          Last Updated on July 14, 2020

                                          How to Get Deep Sleep in 5 Steps Naturally

                                          How to Get Deep Sleep in 5 Steps Naturally

                                          Why do we need sleep so much? Deep sleep is a blissful state of consciousness and our best beauty treatment. Can we learn how to get deep sleep? Of course!

                                          Many of us have problems of getting quality sleep because of various reasons. The most common sleep disorder is insomnia[1]. Millions of people around the world suffer from insomnia.

                                          Ultimately, deep sleep plays a crucial role for the quality of life we live.

                                          From a biological perspective, a good night’s sleep is important for building a stronger immune system against infections, heart disease, and numerous of other illnesses. It rids our body of exhaustion and pain, frees our mind from any sorrow or worry, and may even prevent diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s[2].

                                          The Wisdom of Deep Sleep

                                          If you’re wondering how to get deep sleep naturally, keep reading. Sleep is a mental phenomenon. Its subtlety and complexity, especially when it comes to deep sleep, is of a spiritual, metaphysical nature; however, it is impacted by various external factors.

                                          These factors are the physiological and psycho-social aspects of our life that play a main role in sleep disorders. By not exploring the nature of deep sleep and neglecting the physiological and psycho-social aspects of our life, we can create negative habits that cause a vicious cycle that leads to poor sleep.

                                          Advertising

                                          Deep sleep is explored and practiced in one of the most concise and most important texts of Indian philosophy, the Mandukya Upanishad. The wisdom in this mystic text is quite compressed and might be ungraspable at the beginning, but it offers the answers on deep sleep and the other three levels of consciousness.

                                          I’ve been exploring this subject matter for over seven years and have discovered that, apart from the physiological and psycho-social prep work for going to sleep, a certain sense of spirituality and a recognition of the ego is necessary.

                                          What Stops Deep Sleep?

                                          The cause of sleeping disorders is most probably going to lead us to the fact of fragmenting the life of “one-self” in two entities:

                                          1. The social identity = me as individual (Ego)
                                          2. The external world = as not-me

                                          Deep sleep is determined by behavioral influences. If there is no disruption in the circadian rhythm (sleeping during night and being awake during the day) or environmental factors (quiet, dark, rather cool sleeping room), then the question arises: why do I have problems with my sleep? Is there any mental disharmony (dissatisfaction, anxiety, stress, or depression) within me, that prevents me from enjoying deep sleep? If you want to learn how to get deep sleep, it’s important to answer these questions first.

                                          To naturally transgress from the wakeful state of consciousness to the deep sleep state of consciousness, we need to develop a sleep ritual to ease us into deep sleep.

                                          How to Get Deep Sleep Naturally

                                          Try incorporating these five steps into your routine to prepare your body for deep sleep. By experimenting with each of these steps, you’ll find what does and doesn’t work for you and your consciousness.

                                          Advertising

                                          1. Shower at the End of the Day

                                          This is a good way to calm down mentally and to feel comfortable and clean in your skin. If you have no possibility to take a shower, than wash your face and teeth properly. Enjoy this step and start slowly retreating from the day. Make this one of your last physical activities for the day.

                                          Express gratitude that you’re able to retreat peacefully, wherever you are and whoever you’re with. Stop talking, verbally as well as mentally.

                                          2. Shut Down the Mental Chatter

                                          Decide not to think about anything that concerns tomorrow, yesterday or today. Your highest priority is sleep.

                                          Your smartphone and the rest of the gadgets should be switched off, your kids should be tucked in, and everything should be set to hibernation mode. In case something happens and takes you out of this step, step 3 below is the technique to be applied.

                                          3. Soothing Exercises

                                          There are several relaxation techniques you can do to sooth your body before sleep. Stretch your spine by pulling up your arms above your head. Let your breathing lead the body movement in order to relieve tension in your muscles. Gently rotate your pelvis, making circles to the left then to the right. Do this for at least 3-5 minutes.

                                          For another 3-5 minutes, stretch your mandibular muscles by gently opening and closing the jaw. Massage your head, neck, and jaw muscles, gently circulating with your hands. This will relieve this whole area of tension and prepare your body to fall asleep easier and quicker. Again, let your breathing lead the movement of your hands.

                                          Advertising

                                          4. Deep Breathing

                                          If you try nothing else before going to sleep, at least give this a go. Slow, controlled breathing can reduce your heart rate, lower stress hormones[3], and relax your muscles, all of which are essential in preparing your body for deep sleep.

                                          Simply pay attention to your breath and breath gently, slowly and deeply. Following the flow of your breath will break down the process of thinking.

                                          This conscious, deep breathing technique is the only natural way to stabilize your heart rate, your body temperature, and calm/cease your mental fluctuations. As a result, the nervous system soothes and stabilizes the production of hormones.

                                          All these factors take you more effectively and more efficiently to the so called N3 stage of NREM sleep:  deep sleep.

                                          5. Meditation

                                          Continuous, conscious deep breathing leads you automatically to a meditative state of mind in which all bodily functions are balanced and prepared to regenerate in sleep. Do the following meditation practice:

                                          Consciously generate thoughts about how your breathing pattern will take you from this wakeful state of consciousness to deep sleep in a peaceful way. Meditate on yourself as a pure being that has no form or name. This is quite abstract, but so is deep sleep. In the state of deep sleep, there is no body, no mind, and no experiencer. So, let your “self” be carried into deep sleep by not analyzing how it’s done.

                                          Advertising

                                          When the state of deep sleep has transgressed to the state of wakefulness, the concept of the social identity acknowledges the experience of nothingness.

                                          Once you’ve gained expertise in this step, you will never have problems falling asleep, given that your circadian rhythm and environmental factors remain in tact.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          Many people have their own specific sleep-ritual approach that involves physiological, psycho-social and spiritual aspects. The bottom line is that, if you want to know how to get deep sleep, you must find a way to silence your mind to the extent where no concepts, ideas, or beliefs can influence your wakeful state of consciousness.

                                          Take this sleep-ritual approach and allow yourself to put everything aside in order to effortlessly and carelessly transgress into deep sleep.

                                          Pay respect to the power of your intelligence that keeps your body healthy every single day, enabling you to enjoy the wonders of life, of which the biggest one is you.

                                          Let go of your dilemmas and look deep inside yourself, where the infinite silence of deep sleep resides.

                                          More Tips on How to Get Deep Sleep

                                          Featured photo credit: Gregory Pappas via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] American Sleep Association: Insomnia: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
                                          [2] National Institute of Health: Sleep deprivation increases Alzheimer’s protein
                                          [3] Neurological Science: The role of deep breathing on stress

                                          Read Next