The BBC has come out with a list of the greatest films of the 21st Century, compiled from top tens collected from numerous critics worldwide. Analyzing the modern movies that will sooner or later be called masterpieces is a subject matter I admit to finding highly intriguing.
More so, such documents are teaching tools, working as a map for budding cinephiles and those interested in something outside the usual Hollywood mediocrity. Top tens/hundreds/thousands are where I first read about Ozu and Kiarostami, amongst countless others. With BBC having no clue who I am, which I can handle, I promise, it remained a point of personal interest to collect my own brigade of the ten best films of the 21st Century.
And yes, for you loyal readers, the ten will actually be ranked as they were done in the BBC polls. So, here comes…
10. The Royal Tenenbaums : Not the first Wes Anderson release to make me say wow and not the last, this feature has, for my money, Anderson’s finest blend of comedy and heart, with a mesmerizing Gene Hackman as the prickly, happy-to-lie lead that finally learns the damage he’s done to those that love him.
9. Spirited Away : The master may have retired in this century, though not before Miyazaki gave fans a few more great pieces of art. Spirited Away has boundless creativity and a sympathetic heart bundled up in this Alice in Wonderland-esque classic.
8. Inside Llewyn Davis : How to pick a favorite Coen film for a decade is tough, let alone closer to two. No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and a few others could make anyone’s top ten and I wouldn’t bat an eye. Why Llewyn Davis? It’s just so damn earnest with how much of a fuck-up and asshole our oh-so-talented protagonist stands as, with Oscar Isaac in a performance that turned so many heads people are still counting them up to this day.
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind : A lot of films can be called high concept. What makes Eternal so special is how it digs into every nook and cranny to explore the motivations and outcomes of erasing the memories of true love gone wrong.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road : Thematically rich. Symphonically infectious. Visually beyond words. George Miller’s return to a character we never thought we’d actually see again defied all reasonable expectations and stands, even after a few dozens viewings, as exciting as the first time.
5. Carol : In this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking, daring work, director Todd Haynes paints a romance between two women as passionate, invigorating, hopeful, and due to the times then and now, dangerous.
4. Moulin Rouge! : As boisterous, joyous and heartbreaking as they come, Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece of a musical is gaudy done great. From the editing to the cinematography to those beautiful songs, be they original or via Elton John/The Police/etc, Moulin Rouge! remains either too hyper in tone for you or the magical dream one never imagined would actual hit theatres
3. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days : Cristian Mungui’s film may still be known to some as “That Romanian Abortion Movie,” as if that’s a bad thing. Not all pictures need to be rosy, nor should they be. What’s here is a frank, frightening and unforgettable look at the choices that were necessary in the recent past, and hopefully ones that will remain that way.
2. The Son : The Dardenne Brothers know how to bring raw emotion out of a viewer with the skill few have ever achieved. Their yarn of a quiet, simple man confronting the person that, unknowingly, changed his life forever is a picture of pure grace, preaching comfort and forgiveness, while wrestling with the complications of those same feelings at every turn.
1. Before Sunset : Linklater has made more daring films. More devastating. More amusing. He hasn’t and may never make one more note perfect as his tale of two lovers who reconnect after spending years wondering what if and now, finally, coming face to face with what next.