Cinephiles, prepare to have your jimmies rustled. Because nothing gets film fans in a tizz quite like a good, old fashioned, opinionated and arbitrary ranking of movies.

We’re now 16 years into the 21st Century (bloody hell) and, in terms of film quality, it’s arguably been one of the most bountiful eras the medium has ever experienced. The proverbial cup has runneth over with quality flicks, and now some absolute nutcase has sat down and somehow managed to put the best 100 of them in order.

The BBC has produced its list of the Best Films of the 21st Century (so far), and if you’re looking for inspiration for your next movie night, you could definitely do much, much worse.

Topping out the list as the very, very best film of the past 16 years is David Lynch‘s 2001 masterpiece ‘Mulholland Drive,’ which has wrinkled the noodles of many-a first year university student trying to figure just what in the hell the symbolism of that damned blue cube really was.

What’s interesting is that four of the top ten films came from places other than Hollywood, with Hong Kong, Japan, Iran, and Taiwan cinema all represented in the best of the best.

In terms of Australian representation, along with Mulholland Drive (which features Naomi Watts), we feature in a number of mentions on the list, including ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘ at 19, a pair of Heath Ledger appearances in ‘The Dark Knight‘ at 33 and ‘Brokeback Mountain‘ at 40, and the Baz Luhrmann-directed ‘Moulin Rouge!‘ at 53.

In fact, I – a certified film wanker – have been going over this list (and the Top 10 in particular) for quite some time now, and I’ve been having a hard time coming up with any super outrageous slights or omissions. All your obvious auteur-like directors are represented (Lynch, PTA, the Coens, Miyazaki, Fincher, Cuarón, Scorsese, Coppola, Nolan, Linklater, Malick, etc). Bless their hearts at the BBC, they’ve pretty much got this whole thing licked. Check it out for yourself, why don’t you.


1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)

3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)

9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)

11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)

12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)

15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)

16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)

17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)

18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)

19. Max Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)

24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

25. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)

26. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

27. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)

28. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)

29. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)

30. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)

31. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

32. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

33. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

34. Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015)

35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

36. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014)

37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)

38. City of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002)

39. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

40. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)

41. Inside Out (Pete Docter, 2015)

42. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

43. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)

44. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

45. Blue Is The Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)

46. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)

47. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)

48. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015)

49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014)

50. The Assassin (Hou Hsaio-hsien, 2015)

51. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

52. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

53. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)

54. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

55. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2013)

56. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, director Ágnes Hranitzky, co-director, 2000)

57. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

58. Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembène, 2004)

59. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)

60. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)

61. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

62. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

63. The Turin House (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)

64. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

65. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)

66. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003)

67. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)

68. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)

69. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)

70. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)

71. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012)

72. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013)

73. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)

74. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012)

75. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)

76. Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)

77. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)

78. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

79. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)

80. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003)

81. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)

82. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)

83. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)

84. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

85. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, 2009)

86. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)

87. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

88. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)

89. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008)

90. The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002)

91. The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella, 2009)

92. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)

93. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)

94. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

95. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)

96. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)

97. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)

98. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002)

99. The Gleaners and I (Angès Varda, 2000)

100. Carlos (Olivier Assayas, 2010)

100. Requien for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)

100. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)

A couple of nit-picking, take-away thoughts from the list (because you clearly all asked for them):

  • It’s a list of 100 movies made largely by cinema dorks, so of course there’s actually 103 on it.
  • Putting ‘Her‘ directly below ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence‘ just feels like someone’s got it in for Spike Jonze.
  • Almost Famous‘ at 79 is so criminally low I’m considering filing charges.
  • Pixar cops a rightfully huge representation, but god damn it you can find space for ‘Finding Nemo‘ but not ‘The Incredibles‘? Give me a bloody spell.
  • I maintain that I will fight anyone who thinks ‘Eternal Sunshine‘ isn’t the best American film of its decade.

But other than that (and the many more that I’ll probably come up with the more I think about it), it’s not a bad list.

Not a bad list at all.

Source: BBC.