BBC’s Top 100 Greatest Films Of The 21st Century

I’ve been toying for a few years with putting together a “Best Films of the 21st Century,” because I thought it was an interesting idea for an eclectic sixteen years. I dropped my work on it recently, thinking it was a little too early for such a list. As it turns out, the Brits beat me to the punch, as the BBC has sent out invites to critics all over the world and organized a list of the Top 100 Films of the 21st Century.

People have been discussing this list since BBC first started organizing it a few months ago. Ironically, I turned to my brother and told him, “I will bet you five dollars that Mulholland Drive is #1, Boyhood is Top Ten, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is Top Twenty. Turns out I know critics pretty well. However, it’s still a fascinating list, and while you can check it out for yourself below, I prepared a couple facts and tidbits to tide you all over.

The official breakdown of years is as follows:

2000: 8
2001: 6
2002: 6
2003: 6
2004: 4
2005: 4
2006: 4
2007: 8
2008: 6
2009: 6
2010: 5
2011: 7
2012: 9
2013: 9
2014: 6
2015: 7
2016: 1

The most successful years are 2012, which surprised me, and 2013, which didn’t. Each had nine entries on the list. Excluding 2016 (which made it on here thanks to the Europeans), the years with the fewest entries are 2004, 2005 and 2006, which also doesn’t surprise me. Of my list of favorite films of all time, the three of the four that were released this century made the list, and the fourth is from 2016, thus hurting its chances. And now some thoughts on the films themselves.

It only took until #99 to make me mad. I had to watch The Gleaners and I in film class for college, and it was an unbearable experience. Already this list is giving me the finger. However, it redeems itself with Finding Nemo and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, two excellent films, with the latter making my list of 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (a feature coming soon). And they round out the nineties with The Secret in Their Eyes, one of my all-time favorite foreign films.

Eighties start out pretty strong. Spotlight was great, as was Amélie, which I’m mostly surprised wasn’t higher. But placing the fantastic Her at #84, right behind its inferior cousin A.I. seems like the critics literally shouting “f*ck you” at their readers. At the very least, it’s insulting to me, as it’s one of my All-Time Favorites. A Serious Man and Shame round out the eighties, two well made but difficult-to-watch films. Not bad, though, for a Best Of list.

Almost Famous and The Wolf of Wall Street coming in at #79 and #78 seems unnecessarily low to me, but I can understand it on a global scale. And The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an excellent little French film-you should all check it out. I have no idea why Inherent Vice made this list, apparently the Europeans like Pynchon’s take on The Big Lebowski. Oh well. Spring Breakers is an even weirder selection, but it is an interesting film, so I’ll accept it. Before Sunset is quite low on here for my liking, especially when compared to Only Lovers Left Alive, but you can’t always get what you want.

Stories We Tell, Carol, and The Royal Tenenbaums kick off the sixties with style and panache. They are soon followed by The Hurt Locker, which should really be much higher. Inglourious Basterds comes in at #62, and deservedly so, in my opinion. I don’t understand why so many people love Under the Skin, but the fandom is there, and it earned itself a spot at #61.

The fifties maneuver through darkness and joy with ease, as they start off with A History of Violence and Zero Dark Thirty, before ending with the much lighter (and, while not as well made, more enjoyable) Moulin Rouge! and Inception.

I’m delighted to learn the forties kick off with Brooklyn, one of my favorite films of last year that did not earn nearly enough appraisals for how wonderful it really is. I never understood the love behind Leviathan, and while I understood the love for Blue is the Warmest Color, I feel that it too is overrated (Carol tackles the same themes better, if I’m being honest). Nevertheless, I understand the worldwide love for them, and can accept their placements. 12 Years a Slave is surprisingly high for an international list of greatest films of the century, but it’s a placement I don’t disagree with, so I’ll move on to…WHY IS AMOUR ON THIS LIST?!? Dear God, that film is the most pretentious, painful experience I have had the misfortune to sit through, so much so that I cannot watch any Haneke films ever again. And I like Haneke. Ughh, I need to move on before the vein in my head explodes. There we go. Inside Out. Now THAT’S a film that deserves to be #41.

The next round starts out with Brokeback Mountain, which is fine, but a little meh. It should be on this list, just nowhere near the Top 50, let alone 40. Oh well, I’ll move on. City of God comes in at #38, which is another good, not great film. I’m surprised to find Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at only #35. That film is a visual and narrative treat that would come dangerously close to my Top Ten (which we will be seeing tomorrow, wink wink). Son of Saul comes in at #34, and deservedly so, and we see The Dark Knight at #33, which also makes sense. I’ll let you all know if Margaret should be #31 when I see it in a few weeks.

Another surprisingly low film is 2003’s Oldboy, which comes in at #30. That film was a real game changer. I’m a little disappointed to see WALL-E is #29, as that film left me sorely disappointed. The Social Network comes in at a deserving #27, and Memento, The Master and Lost in Translation come in at a strong #25, #24 and #22. I’m surprised that The Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t break the Top Twenty, but it came close.

TAKE EVERYTHING I WROTE ABOUT AMOUR AND HANEKE AND REPEAT IT FOR SYNCECDOCHE, NEW YORK AND KAUFMAN! I HATED THAT FILM WITH A FIERY PASSION! I am, however, calmed down immediately afterwards by the truly fantastic Mad Max: Fury Road. The White Ribbon is one of the Haneke films I saw after Amour, so I can’t tell if my dislike was real or not; but either way, #18 is too high. Pan’s Labyrinth, however, is properly placed at #17. The Act of Killing is the highest documentary listed, and rightfully so. Children of Men does the action genre justice at #13, and it makes me quite happy to see that. So let’s move on to number twe…what? Could it be? Are…are people finally listening to me about the greatness of Zodiac? They are! David Fincher’s Zodiac, one of my All-Time Favorite films, comes in at #12, which puts me over the moon. It even makes me happy about Inside Llewyn Davis coming at #11, a film that is artistically great but a little cold emotionally.

As for the Top Ten, it plays out the way you’d expect the critics to vote. No Country comes in at #10, which is a little high for me but, as the only deserving Coen entry, makes sense. The Tree of Life has about forty minutes of great filmmaking clouded by another hour and a half of nonsense, but whatever. Eternal Sunshine and Boyhood coming in at #6 and #5 make me happy, as does Spirited Away coming in at #4. There Will Be Blood might be my pick for #1, but its presence at #3 is still quite impressive. And finally, Mulholland Drive. Oh Mulholland Drive. Beloved by critics and film professors everywhere, accepted or hated by everyone else. Personally, I think David Lynch’s last great film is interesting, no more and no less, but I can understand its placement at #1. And there’s your list.

You can see the entire list for yourself below. There’s a lot to take in, and it’s a pretty good list to peruse. If you want to see how all the critics voted, you can see all the Top Ten Lists right here. Personally, I’m just “meh” on most of these critics, but Eric Snider is one of the best in the business, and it’s worth it just for his thoughts. Personally, this list gets me excited, and maybe I’ll prepare a list of my own for you all tomorrow. Stay tuned, everyone!

100. Toni Erdmann (2016)
100. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
100. Carlos (2010)
99. The Gleaners and I (2000)
98. Ten (2002)
97. White Material (2009)
96. Finding Nemo (2003)
95. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
94. Let the Right One In (2008)
93. Ratatouille (2007)
92. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
91. The Secret in Their Eyes (2007)
90. The Pianist (2002)
89. The Headless Woman (2008)
88. Spotlight (2015)
87. Amélie (2001)
86. Far From Heaven (2002)
85. A Prophet (2009)
84. Her (2013)
83. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
82. A Serious Man (2009)
81. Shame (2011)
80. The Return (2003)
79. Almost Famous (2000)
78. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
77. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
76. Dogville (2003)
75. Inherent Vice (2014)
74. Spring Breakers (2012)
73. Before Sunset (2004)
72. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
71. Tabu (2012)
70. Stories We Tell (2012)
69. Carol (2015)
68. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
67. The Hurt Locker (2008)
66. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003)
65. Fish Tank (2009)
64. The Great Beauty (2013)
63. The Turin Horse (2011)
62. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
61. Under the Skin (2013)
60. Syndromes and a Century (2006)
59. A History of Violence (2005)
58. Moolaadé (2004)
57. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
56. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
55. Ida (2013)
54. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)
53. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
52. Tropical Malady (2004)
51. Inception (2010)
50.The Assassin (2015)
49. Goodbye to Language (2014)
48. Brooklyn (2015)
47. Leviathan (2014)
46. Certified Copy (2010)
45. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
44. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
43. Melancholia (2011)
42. Amour (2012)
41. Inside Out (2015)
40. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
39. The New World (2005)
38. City of God (2002)
37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)
36. Timbuktu (2014)
35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
34. Son of Saul (2015)
33. The Dark Knight (2008)
32. The Lives of Others (2006)
31. Margaret (2011)
30. Oldboy (2003)
29. WALL-E (2008)
28. Talk To Her (2002)
27. The Social Network (2010)
26. 25th Hour (2002)
25. Memento (2000)
24. The Master (2012)
23. Caché (2005)
22. Lost in Translation (2003)
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
20. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
18. The White Ribbon (2009)
17. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
16. Holy Motors (2012)
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
14. The Act of Killing (2012)
13. Children of Men (2006)
12. Zodiac (2007)
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
10. No Country for Old Men (2007)
9. A Separation (2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (2000)
7. The Tree of Life (2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
5. Boyhood (2014)
4. Spirited Away (2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (2001)

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