Intro from our film critic
Hello there Nerve Now Readers, nice of you to drop by, I’m Dan, I’m a film critic and as its 2020, I thought it would be cool to count down my top 100 movies of the 21st century so far (or alternatively titled “My Top 100 Films of the Last 20 Years). To break things up, because 100 films is one hell of a number to write and read about, I shall be breaking this up into 10 parts, this being the first. Because I have seen every film there is to see and my opinion is basically just straight fact, this will be a 100% definitive list that cannot be questioned in anyway whatsoever by anyone… All written sarcasm aside, I hope that this subjective list of mine may inspire some of you to watch something new that you may not have normally seen or even knew existed.
100 – Scooby Doo (2002, Raja Gosnell)
Starting us off at number 100 is perhaps the most questionable film on this list, but please, hear me out. Written by Guardian of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, 2002’s live action Scooby Doo movie was really quite something wasn’t it? The film was universally panned by critics for being too scary for kids and too lame for anyone else, this being said; by God is this film memorable. Scooby Doo is one of those rare movies that you can remember every single scene from and that has to count for something right? Regardless of what you thought about it then or think about it now, this film is a time capsule of the early 2000’s and also defined a moment in time for a generation. Plus, you have to praise the undeniably inspired performances from both Linda Cardellini as Velma and Matthew Lillard as Shaggy.
99 – Unbreakable (2000, M. Night Shyamalan)
M. Night Shyamalan has had a rocky 21st century to say the least; however he started it off on the right foot with the first entry in his Eastrail 177 trilogy, Unbreakable. Coming in at number 99, Unbreakable tells the story of David Dunn, a football stadium security guard and the sole survivor of the catastrophic Eastrail 177 train wreckage. David is approached by comic book enthusiast Elijah Price, who attempts to convince David that he is, in fact, a superhero possessing the power of super human strength. Despite Shyamalan ruining his Eastrail 177 trilogy with 2019’s Glass, he did at least bring a unique psychological spin to the superhero genre with this standalone film that still holds up in an increasingly overpopulated genre.
98 – Planet Terror (2007, Robert Rodrigues)
In 2007, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up to bring back grindhouse cinema with their own double feature effort. Tarantino would make Deathproof, which would disappoint greatly and go down as his worst movie to date. However, this project was not doomed because Robert Rodriguez made Planet Terror. This film is perhaps Rodriguez’s greatest work to date, as it truly encapsulates grindhouse cinema in a uniquely Rodriguez way. It’s violent, it’s sexy, it’s surprisingly funny and it’s got zombies… What more do you need? Granted you have a lot of accepting to do if you’re going to enjoy this film, but if you ride the wave of pure crazy, then Planet Terror is well worth the investment and is my 98th best film of the century.
97 – American Splendor (2003, Shari Spinger Berman & Robert Pulcini)
The 21st Century will probably be best remembered for being when comic book movies dominated the box office; however, coming in at number 97, is a comic book movie you perhaps have never heard of, but equally need to see. American Splendor tells the true story of Harvey Pekar, a file clerk for a hospital who decides to write his own hit comic book about the mundanity of life. Where the film stands out is in its ability to be both a biopic and a documentary, as the film features interview segments with Pekar himself, along with its largely scripted story where Paul Giamatti plays the comic book writer. It’s an unlikely story told in a fittingly unlikely way that also perfectly encapsulates the aura of the cynical man it’s about.
96 – Appropriate Behaviour (2014, Desiree Akhavan)
Coming in at 96 is Desiree Akhavan’s debut feature film, Appropriate Behavior. This film is an incredibly engrossing personal portrait of an Iranian American woman wrestling with her bisexuality and, from my reading of the film, her overall female preference. The film is written, directed and stars Akhavan and she delivers in each category. Appropriate Behavior works as both a comedy and a personal in depth character study, as Akhavan lets us inside her head whilst cracking us up along the way. Although her follow up The Miseducation of Cameron Post won big at Sundance, despite disappointing me narratively, Akhavan still debuted herself as a talented triple threat to be reckoned with.
95 – Swiss Army Man (2016, Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert)
Remember that film where Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse? Well its number 95 on my list. Swiss Army Man came to us from directing duo Daniels, the guys behind that crazy DJ Snake Video, Turn Down For What… You’ll deny it, but you know the one. Swiss Army Man marks their feature debut as they tell the story of Hank, a man stranded on an island who embarks on an adventure to find civilization with the aid of a farting corpse named Manny. As weird as it sounds, this film has a surprising amount of heart and doesn’t rely on its gimmick to carry the film. Of course it derives laughs from its absurd premise; however it finds the right balance between comedy and drama whilst also never sacrificing heart and story for a cheap gag. It’s funny, it’s wholesome and it’s one of the best films of the 21st Century so far.
94 – Creep (2014, Patrick Brice)
No three words hit a critic’s gag reflex harder than “found footage movie.” This subgenre is often exploited by lazy horror filmmakers after a quick buck; however there are some inspired examples of its use such as; the hugely profitable horror phenomenon that was, Paranormal Activity and my number 94 pick, Creep. As part of his low budget mumblecore movement, Mark Duplass starred alongside the film’s director Patrick Brice, in one of the most minimalist movies ever, but also one that is oddly effective. The film is about a videographer who responds to an ambiguous ad on craigslist, however upon meeting his mysterious client things start to get weird. The film oddly blends comedy and horror in way that makes you pre-empting fear to a joke and laughter at the horror, but in a way that still works. It’s hard to explain to be quite honest, but Creep, like its crazy protagonist, has something infectiously intriguing about it that draws you in and doesn’t let go. I highly recommend you watch it and its sequel Creep 2, both are on Netflix and get this, they are both just over 1 hour and 10 minutes… Yes you could watch both in just over 2.5 hours.
93 – Moulin Rouge (2001, Baz Luhrmann)
Speaking of crazy, Baz Luhrmann’s in your face cabaret musical Moulin Rouge is number 93 on my list. Moulin Rouge is a modern classic musical that’s biggest surprise is that they are only now, in 2020, putting it onto the stage. The film is the very definition of showbiz. Its bold, it’s colourful, it’s loud, it’s singing, it’s dancing; its comedy, tragedy, etcetera, etcetera. Although it’s a little too mad to start with, it eventually finds its narrative footing at the end of act 1, beginning of act 2. Considering Luhrmann’s previous film was an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it is Moulin Rouge that ironically feels like a Shakespeare play the bard never wrote.
92 – The Gift (2015, Joel Edgerton)
At 92 we have another actor, director writer debut, this time it’s Joel Edgerton with his psychological thriller, The Gift. Edgerton plays Gordo, a mysterious man that bumps into an old school acquaintance, played by Jason Bateman, and his wife, played by Rebecca Hall. Edgerton proves a triple threat with this film as he perfectly balances his script writing, directing and acting capabilities to deliver a haunting and subversive edge of your seat mystery that lingers long after the credits have rolled. Not only that, but he works a career best performance out of the typically funny man Jason Bateman.
91 – Minding The Gap (2018, Bing Liu)
I’m a sucker for personal films, that’s why Bing Liu’s documentary Minding The Gap makes this list at number 91. Filmmaker Bing Liu grew up in an abusive household where skateboarding with his buddies was their escape. This film documents where he and his friends are in their lives now, whilst also nudging them towards retrospectively confronting their demons. The film wouldn’t exist without the personal inclusion and investment of Liu himself who even interviews his mother about turning a blind eye to the abuse he suffered as a child. It’s truly riveting stuff and it’s as deeply personal and poignant as cinema can get. The world is simply better for this film existing and I cannot recommend it enough.
So that’s just my 100-91 on this list, let me know your thoughts, do you agree? Disagree? Have you seen these films? Have you not? *In Christian Bale Batman voice* WHERE ARE THEY?!?!… Anyway, tune in to my 90-81 later this week. I shall be posting these regularly, aiming at 2 per week. See you then!