90 – The Raid (2011, Gareth Evans)
Continuing on our countdown at number 90 is the international action phenomenon, The Raid. The concept is simple, police officers fight their way to the top of a housing estate to reach a criminal figurehead and take him to prison. I am aware that The Raid 2 is said to be better, however I simply have not seen it, I’m sorry. This film could easily be a boring and hallow action movie, however this film succeeds by treating its action choreography as the art form it is. The stunt work is mesmerizing and director Gareth Evans and cinematographers; Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono, equally choreograph the camera in a way to capture the true beauty of their craft. It’s an outstanding feat in in camera action and my 90th best film of the century thus far.
89 – Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016, Taika Waititi)
Taika Waititi has had a great century thus far, debuting with Eagle Vs Shark, puting himself on the map with the mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, adding personality to the Marvel universe with Thor Ragnarock and even winning an Oscar for Jojo Rabbit. All these milestones aside, it is his coming of age adventure, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, that, for me personally, finds Waititi balancing a heartfelt narrative with his own brand of humour in his most effective concoction yet. The film tells the story of Ricky, an troublesome orphan boy who moves in with his new foster parents. When one of them dies and social services try to take him away, Ricky and his reluctant foster father, Hec, played by Sam Neill, hide in the wilderness to evade capture. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt and it makes the list at number 89.
88 – Collateral (2004, Michael Mann)
What if you were a cab driver and found out your latest passenger was a hitman? That’s the oddly specific question Michael Mann asked us in 2004 with his movie Collateral. The film stars Tom Cruise as Vincent, a deadly contract killer who decides to take a cab to a number of hired hits he has one night. He enters the cab of unsuspecting taxi driver Max, played by Jamie Foxx. The film follows a tense cat and mouse hostage situation between the two men that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Featuring outstanding performances from Cruise, who acts against his good guy persona, and Jamie Foxx, who would gain an Oscar nomination for the film, despite losing and winning instead for Ray that same year. Collateral is an unrelenting thriller packed with thrills and is my 88th film of the century thus far.
87 – The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont)
Coming in at number 87 is Frank Darabont’s third, and hopefully not final, Stephan King adaptation, The Mist. The film tells the story of a father and son trapped in a supermarket when a mysterious mist surrounds them, containing all kinds of blood thirsty supernatural creatures. In the 21st Century, The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption director moved away from the prison genre and onto King’s primary genre of horror, and the result is an entertaining horror thrill ride. What puts the Mist above other horror films is its truly haunting ending that goes down as one of the greatest movie endings of all time. For that reason alone, The Mist makes my top 100 list.
86 – Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog)
Werner Herzog is an interesting man to say the least. The German filmmaker has made a number of documentaries and narrative films throughout the 21st century. Perhaps his most notable and best effort is his documentary Grizzly Man. The film finds Herzog analyzing footage taken by Timothy Treadwell, a man who devoted his life to teaching about and living alongside the Bears. Herzog derives profound interpretations and meanings from Treadwell and his motivations, creating an engrossing in depth character study into a very unorthodox man. Like a feature length video essay, Grizzly Man finds Herzog deriving profound beauty in an unlikely place in what is my 86th best film of the century.
85 – Dogtooth (2009, Yorgos Lanthimos)
As you may have noticed on this list, I love filmmakers debut films, mainly because it’s our first look into their style and the themes they are about. Coming in at number 85 is the debut feature of one of Hollywood’s most surreal filmmakers. Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth tells the story of a family of five (a father, mother, son and two daughters), who live an isolated life within their house where the father is the only one who leaves. As the kids wait for their Dogtooth to fall, so they may leave the house, their parents perpetrate fabrications to them about the outside world. The film follows one of the daughters as they grow older, grow tired of their reclusive life and begins to question what her parents tell her. It’s absurd and surreal as hell, but its overall message isn’t impossible to decipher and is actually rather poignant about mainstream society and family life.
84 – Upgrade (2018, Leigh Whannell)
I have a love hate relationship with the Saw franchise and I’m intrigued as to how Chris Rock’s Spiral will turn out, this being said, I had great hope for original Saw scribe, Leigh Whannell’s solo venture, Upgrade, and boy did he not let me down. Having debuted with the surprisingly competent Insidious Chapter 3, with Upgrade, Whannell continues to prove that he can direct just as well as, if not better than, he can write, showing a cinematic side to him we haven’t seen before. More of a sci-fi action film than a horror movie; Upgrade is an intense and energetic action film with an intriguing revenge mystery at its heart. I’m excited to see what he will bring to The Invisible Man which is out this weekend, but for now, Upgrade is a winning sci-fi action film that makes it in at number 84 in my top 100 list.
83 – Son of Saul (2015, Laszlo Nemes)
At number 83 is perhaps the most depressing movie on this list, and coming from me that is
saying something. That being said, don’t let the dark and sombre tone stop you from watching Laszlo Nemes’ Oscar winning World War 2 film, Son of Saul. The film follows a Jewish worker in Auschwitz who upon cleaning the showers one day, finds his sons corpse. The grieving father then sets out on a desperate journey to find a rabbi to bury his boy, whilst also being a crucial member of a revolution that’s about to take place. The film is shot exclusively in shallow focus, meaning only what is closest to the camera is in focus, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere and personal narrative as we intimately follow our protagonist on his journey. It’s heart-breaking stuff, but it’s incredibly profound and as emotional as films get.
82 – Knives Out (2019, Rian Johnson)
Off the back of Star Wars’ most polarising entry, Rian Johnson turned his attention towards Agatha Christie whodunit’s with my 82nd pick, Knives Out. After crime novelist, Harlan Thrombey, played by Kevin Spac- I mean Christopher Plummer, dies it is up to the weirdly southern voiced detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, to question the suspects and solve the murder. The film pays homage to Agatha Christie styled whodunit’s, whilst equally subverting the genre to great effect. As it’s a mystery I shouldn’t say much, but what I will say is this, Knives Out is a mystery filled with twists and turns and one that simply gets better the further in you get. It’s an absorbing watch that’s more than worth the investment. Who dun it? Find out for yourself.
81 – Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
Christopher Nolan is the biggest director to have come up in the 21st century. The man has knocked it out the park time and time again and has become the very thing that gets his films event status. At number 81 is Nolan’s sophomore effort and the film that put him on the map. Memento follows Leonard Shelby, a man with anterograde amnesia who’s on a manhunt for his wife’s killer. The film’s narrative structure is flawless as it mirrors the fractured mind of our forgetful protagonist. We are positioned with Leonard, but we also know more than him, well unless you too have amnesia… Nolan manages to direct a perfectly balances film that doesn’t confuse or reveal too much or too little. Memento is simply a masterpiece as it perfects anti narrative storytelling… What more can I say?
And just like that, another 10 down. Thank you for reading my 90 through to 81 of my top 100 films of the 21st century. Again let me know what you think and hopefully there is a film or two you may (re)watch, now that I’ve (re)introduced you to it. Stay tuned for my number 80 through to 71 coming very soon.