40 – Synecdoche, New York (2008, Charlie Kaufman)
Continuing us on at number 40 is the first appearance to this list from one of my favorite filmmakers ever, Charlie Kaufman. Synecdoche, New York tells the story of theater director Caden Cotard, a man struggling with his work, mental health and his various relationships with the women in his life. One day, Caden is given a grant for his next theatrical production, to which he uses to hire out a warehouse so to build an authentic, to scale model of New York city inside. Synecdoche, New York marks Kaufman’s directorial debut and the result is as surreal and quirky as expected from the Being John Malkovich writer. Despite being at the weaker end of his catalogue of work, and the fact I believe that 2002’s Adaptation would’ve been a perfect directorial debut for him, Synecdoche, New York still delivers on everything a Kaufman fan would want from him, and yes I am aware that many of you reading this don’t know who he is.
39 – Ghost World (2001, Terry Zwigoff)
Like I said about my 97th pick, American Splendor, The 21st Century will probably be remembered in film for when comic book adaptations took over the Hollywood blockbusters. However, at number 39 is another little known graphic novel adaptation, that being 2001’s Ghost World. The film follows friends Enid, played by Thora Birch, and Rebecca, played by Scarlet Johansson, two high school graduates with no plan in life other than to move in together. One day, out of sheer boredom, they decide to play a prank on Seymour, played by Steve Buscemi, a man who posted a dating ad in the newspaper. I love quirky coming of age movies and Ghost World is exactly that, except this film takes more narrative risks than the average coming of age film that still hold up today. If you love coming of age films and haven’t seen Ghost World, give it a go you dummies.
38 – Searching (2018, Aneesh Chaganty)
Continuing us on at number 38 is perhaps one of the 21st century’s biggest hidden gems. Searching tells the story of David Kim, a widower and single father who breaks into his daughter’s computer when she suddenly goes missing. Similar to mainstream horror films such as Open Window and Unfriended, the film takes the exclusively-on-a-desktop-screen approach to storytelling and director Aneesh Chaganty puts it to perfect use to tell a gripping and effective mystery thriller. Not only is Searching an incredibly creative and unique mystery thriller that proves the credibility of an entire form of filmmaking, it also has a strong emotional core and an opening sequence to rival that legendary montage from Pixar’s Up.
37 – United 93 (2006, Paul Greengrass)
Paul Greengrass makes his last appearance on this list at number 37 with his September 11th biopic, United 93. The film documents the events that took place aboard and around the United 93 aircraft, one of the four planes hijacked on September 11th 2001. Greengrass brings his authentic, near documentary style of filmmaking to one of the biggest tragedies in modern times and the result is a deeply emotional and nail-bitingly tense from start to finish. Greengrass takes the risk of casting people as themselves, such as FAA’s National Operations Manager Ben Sliney, the man who decided to shut down all air traffic across America in response to 9/11. Unlike Clint Eastwood’s film 15:17 to Paris, the non-actors in Greengrass’ film perform exceptionally well, thus helping Greengrass construct one of the most emotionally authentic films ever to have been made.
36 – A Ghost Story (2017, David Lowery)
At number 36 is one of the most existential and experimental films on this list, that being David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. The film follows a young couple, played by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, as they move into a new home to start their live together. However, that life is suddenly cut short, when one of them dies in a car accident, leaving their ghost tethered to the house they had hoped to have had a future in. A Ghost Story is a heart breaking existential crisis of a film that explores in-depth themes such as; life, death and time through one of cinema best edited films ever. The film features a 2 minute long take of Rooney Mara eating a chocolate pie, what else do you need from a film?
35 – Source Code (2011, Duncan Jones)
At 35 is the first of two appearances to this list from David Bowie’s filmmaking son, Duncan Jones. Source Code tells the story of Captain Colter Stevens a soldier who discovers that he’s a part of a government experiment called Source Code, in which he is placed into another man’s identity for the last 8 minutes of his life. The goal of this experiment, to locate the bomber of a Chicago train that killed many of its passengers including the man Captain Steven’s embodies, but in order to do this, he must relive those final 8 minutes repeatedly. The film is an action packed and incredibly satisfying sci-fi mystery, with a surprising amount of heart within its story that pulls you in further. Source Code is an engrossing movie on a number of different levels and one of Duncan Jones’, and the 21st centuries, best films to date.
34 – The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
It’s hard to find a list of best films that doesn’t, in anyway, reference this film. At number 34 is Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece, The Dark Knight. A criminal mastermind named The Joker is terrorising Gotham City with two goals in mind and they’re quite simple; take down society and “kill the Batman.” The Dark Knight sees the Nolan brothers writing an excellent and re-watchable cat and mouse thriller with effective twists and turns throughout. Christopher Nolan equally directs The Dark Knight with confidence and to expectedly outstanding results. It’s beautifully shot, endlessly quotable, perfectly paced and features an outstanding cast of performances. But, this film will forever be remembered for its iconic and decade defining and Oscar winning performance by the late great, Heath Ledger.
33 – Fantastic Mr Fox (2009, Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson makes his last appearance on this list at number 33 with first ever animated film, Fantastic Mr Fox. The film tells the story of Mr. Fox, a retired thief who is tired of the mundanity of getting by in life. Upon viewing a house, Mr Fox has the fantastic idea to come out of retirement for one big triple header of a job. The job is simple; steal from three meanest, nastiest most dangerous farmers there are; Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Fantastic Mr. Fox is arguably Anderson’s greatest achievement in film-making as there personally isn’t a more wholesome, comfortable and downright delightful watch in existence. Anderson’s precise direction is perfect for the highly controlled nature of the stop motion animation style, and together this feels like the perfect combination in telling legendary author, Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale. Fantastic Mr. Fox is the ultimate comfort watch and sits happily at number 33 on this list.
32 – There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
Speaking of Anderson’s, at number 32 is the second and last appearance from Paul Thomas Anderson to this list with his masterwork, There Will Be Blood. The film tells the story of ruthless oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, a man on the pursuit for power and wealth, hell-bent on becoming the wealthiest man in oil. When a young pastor named Eli Sunday enters his life, Plainview must adapt his methods if he is to overcome this new obstacle and achieve his dream, but how far is he willing to go? There Will Be Blood in an in depth exploration of capitalism that becomes more scary and more relevant with each year that passes. Featuring an outstanding score from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and a century defining performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, I strongly believe There Will Be Blood and Paul Thomas Anderson were robbed by No Country For Old Men at that year’s Oscars ceremony. It’s PTA’s masterpiece, it exists out of necessity and it is my 32st best film of the century thus far.
31 – Monsters Inc. (2000, Pete Docter)
Rounding off this 10 film countdown is one of the key films that shaped me into the person I am today. Monsters Inc. was the very first film I ever say in the cinema and I’ve been re-watching it ever since. The film tells the story of unlikely friends Mike and Sully who work for a corporation that collects children’s screams and converts it into energy. However, their world and lives are soon changed forever, when one of those children finds their way into their world. Mike and Sully must then find a way to put that thing back where it came from or so help them. Monster’s Inc. is nothing less than a classic. It’s funny, creative, risky, unique, packed with emotion, and most importantly, it’s inventive. Similar to Shrek, the film has also found a second life in modern day meme culture, so all that’s left to say is; Monster’s Inc. I wouldn’t have nothing if I didn’t have you.
Another 10 down and part 7 is done. Sorry for the wait on this part, but the world is going crazy lately. I hope you enjoyed this list and as always, let me know your thoughts. Part 8 should be with you shortly as we all have nothing but time at the moment. Take care.