Top 100 Films of the Century… Thus far – Part 10

10

As there have been so many amazing movies in the last 20 years, I haven’t had the chance to see all of them, Nonetheless, before I count down my final top 10, here are just a few of my honorable mentions:

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(The Descent Poster)

  • 12 Years A Slave (2013, Steve McQueen)
  • 1917 (2019, Sam Mendes)
  • 28 Days Later (2002, Danny Boyle)
  • A Single Man (2009, Tom Ford)
  • Attack The Block (2011, Joe Cornish)
  • The Big Sick (2017, Michael Showalter)
  • Black Panther (2018, Ryan Coogler)
  • Casino Royale (2006, Martin Campbell)
  • The Cat Returns (2002, Hiroyuka Morita)
  • City of God (2002, Fernando Merelles & Kaitia Lund)
  • Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005, Tim Burton)
  • The Descent (2005, Neil Marshall)
  • Drag Me To Hell (2009, Sam Raimi)
  • Drive (2011, Nicolas Winding Refn)
  • Dunkirk (2017, Christopher Nolan)
  • The Endless (2017, Aaron Moorehead & Justin Benson)
  • The Favorite (2018, Yorgos Lanthimos)
  • Finding Nemo (2003, Andrew Stanton)
  • First Man (2018, Damian Chazelle)
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    (Howl’s Moving Castle Poster)

  • The Fountain (2006, Darren Aaronofsky)
  • Good Time (2017, Josh & Benny Safdie)
  • The Harry Potter Saga (2000-2012, Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates)
  • Holy Motors (2012, Leos Carax)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2004, Hayao Miyazaki)
  • Hush (2016, Mike Flanagan)
  • The Impossible (2012, J. A Bayona)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Joel and Ethan Coen)
  • Inside Out (2015, Pete Docter)
  • Insomnia (2002, Christopher Nolan)
  • The Invisible Man (2020, Leigh Whannell)
  • John Wick (2014, Chad Stahelski)
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    (Pan’s Labyrinth Poster)

  • John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017, Chad Stahelski)
  • Kill Bill Vol 1 (2003, Quentin Tarantino)
  • La La Land (2016, Damian Chazelle)
  • Leave No Trace (2018, Debra Granik)
  • The Lighthouse (2019, Robert Eggers)
  • Locke (2013, Steven Knight)
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003, Peter Jackson)
  • Mad Max Fury Road (2015, George Miller)
  • The Master (2012, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  • Midsommar (2019, Ari Aster)
  • Moonlight (2016, Barry Jenkins)
  • Monster (Patty Jenkins)
  • Mud (2012, Jeff Nichols)
  • Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)
  • The Nice Guys (2016, Shane Black)
  • Nocturnal Animals (2016, Tom Ford)
  • Once (2007, John Carney)
  • Okja (2017, Bong Joon-Ho)
  • Paddington (2014, Paul King)
  • Paddington 2 (2017, Paul King)
  • Pans Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo Del Toro)
  • The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski)
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    (Toy Story 3 Poster)

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003, Gore Verbinski)
  • Requiem For A Dream (2000, Darren Aaronofsky)
  • Roma (2018, Alfonso Cuaron)
  • Rush (2013, Ron Howard)
  • Selma (2014, Ava DuVernay)
  • Skyfall (2012, Sam Mendes)
  • Snowpiercer (2013, Bong Joon-Ho)
  • Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazuki)
  • The Social Network (2010, David Fincher)
  • Split (2016, M. Night Shyamalan)
  • Teen Titan’s Go To The Movies (2018, Aaron Horvath & Peter Rida Michall)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010, Lee Unkrich)
  • Train To Busan (2016, Yeon Sang-Ho)
  • Tully (2018, Jason Reitman)
  • Up (2009, Pete Docter)
  • Up in the Air (2009, Jason Reitman)
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011, Lynne Ramsay)
  • Widows (2018, Steve McQueen)
  • Wreck It Ralph (2012, Rich Moore)
  • The Wrestler (2008, Darren Aaronofsky)

10 – American Animals (2018, Bart Layton)

(Source - https://www.flickr.com/photos/javivoland/8017549982/)

(Producer, Dimitri Doganis and Director, Bart Layton)

Starting us off at number 10 is Bart Layton, who makes his second and final appearance on this list with his complete game changer of a movie, American Animals. The film follows the story of Spenser Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen, four American college students who attempted a heist in which they aimed to steal some incredibly valuable books from Transylvania University in Kentucky. Similar to American Splendor, American Animals is a biopic that implements documentary elements to increase the authenticity of the films events. Layton interviews the real Reinhard, Lipka, Borsuk and Allen getting their thoughts, feeling and perspectives of the events in question and this is how the film becomes game changing. As well as increasing authenticity, Layton also questions the reliability of the men’s accounts, Warren Lipka’s especially. Never before have I seen a film that succeeded at feeling authentic and questioning that authenticity. American Animals is a thrilling heist movie and an insightful documentary in one, but ultimately it’s a game changing piece of cinematic art that makes my top 10 films of the century thus far.

9 – Whiplash (2014, Damien Chazelle)

(Source - https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/16135968997)

(left to right, JK Simmons and Miles Teller in Whiplash)

Coming in at number 9 is a film that reignited my passion for music once again, that is of course, Damian Chazelle’s jazz drumming drama, Whiplash. Telling the story of Andrew Neimann, played by Miles Teller, a talented young drummer who is determined to become one of the greatest drummers who ever lived. When he’s personally selected to join an orchestra conducted by the highly acclaimed, cutthroat instructor Terence Fletcher, played by JK Simmons, Andrew falls subject to Fletcher’s unconventional zero tolerance methods, which find him pushed to his very limits in order to make his dream come true. Chazelle finds a compelling story in one of the most unlikely of places, writing and directing a truly intense film packed with conflict and featuring one of cinemas most aggressive Oscar winning performances from a career best JK Simmons. Whiplash is simply a captivating film about determination and how far you’re willing to go to achieve a dream.

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(Ryan Gosling and Faith Wladyka at TIFF 2010)

8 – Blue Valentine (2010, Derek Cianfrance)

Now, at number 8 is in my opinion, the scariest film ever made, and it’s not a horror film, its Derek Cianfrance’s relationship drama Blue Valentine. The film follows Dean, played by Ryan Gosling, and Cynthia, played by Michelle Williams, a married couple with a daughter who are on the brink of divorce. Spanning two different timelines, Blue Valentine documents the birth and death of their love in what is a truly haunting watch that lingers long after the credits roll. Cianfrance writes and directs a modern tragedy that’s so authentically bleak and depressing that it has infamously become known as the one film you never watch with your significant other… I made the mistake of not listening to that advice, and now divorce has become one of my all-time greatest fears. Featuring two truly breath-taking performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine is, with no exaggeration, the scariest film I have ever seen. Please watch it if you dare, but I do highly recommend you watch it alone.

7 – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)

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(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Poster)

At number 7 comes a totally mind bending movie, if you pardon the pun. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the complicated love story of Joel Barish, played by Jim Carrey, and Clementine Kruczynski, played by Kate Winslet. When Joel discovers that Clementine has undergone a procedure to erase him from her memory, Joel decides to do the same, however a reluctant part of Joel’s brain attempts to fight against the erasing memories. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is perhaps the best script of Charlie Kaufman’s career as he uses his unconventional talents to craft a deeply intellectual, yet also profoundly moving anti-narrative of a movie, earning him an academy award. The film also boasts a strong ensemble cast including Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Tom Wilkinson, whilst featuring outstanding lead performances by an always amazing Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey at his dramatic peak. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an acquired taste of a movie; however I simply can’t get enough of it.

6 – Me & Earl & The Dying Girl (2015, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)

(Source - https://www.flickr.com/photos/montclairfilmfest/16962698853/)

(Author and Screenwriter of Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews)

Just missing out on the top 5 at number 6 is my favorite coming of age movie of all time. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl tells the story of Greg Gaines, a cynical and socially distant teenager played by Thomas Mann. Greg doesn’t have “friends” as he likes to put it; instead he remains on low key good terms with everyone, in order to survive the ruthless environment that is high school. When his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a Jewish girl diagnosed with leukemia, played by Olivia Cooke, Greg forms an unlikely friendship with her along with his “co-worker” Earl, played by RJ Cyler. Written by Jesse Andrews, the author of the novel in which this film is based off, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is one of those rare cases in which the film is better than the book. Andrew’s improves upon his ambitiously Meta novel with the help of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s extraordinarily surreal and quirky direction, making Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a heartfelt and cinematically satisfying coming of age drama.

5 – A Monster Calls (2016, J.A Bayona)

(Source - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Endikus&action=edit&redlink=1)

(Director, J.A. Bayona)

Starting off our top 5 is one of the most heart breaking movies I have ever seen. J. A. Bayona makes his second and final appearance on this list with his adaptation of the Patrick Ness Novel, A Monster Calls. The film tells the story of Conor O’Malley, played by Lewis MacDongall, a young boy with a terminally ill mother, played by Felicity Jones, an absent father, played by Toby Kebbell, and an extremely strict grandmother, played by Sigourney Weaver. One day, Conor is approached by a gigantic tree Monster, voiced by Liam Neeson, who tells Conor three stories before insisting that Conor tells him one in return. Written by Patrick Ness himself, A Monster Calls perfectly blends together fantastical escapism with its grounded and extremely heavy themes. With a powerful script written by the author of the source material, Bayona was handed the challenge of directing the best script of his career. Fortunately, Bayona proves his talent for emotional storytelling as A Monster Calls had me in tears throughout its entire third act. Ambitiously empathetic, A Monster Calls is the very reason why I watch films and I can’t stress enough how badly you need to see it.

4 – Spider-Man 2 (2004, Sam Raimi)

(Source - Gage Skidmore)

(Director, Sam Raimi)

At number 4 is the film that had the greatest influence on me growing up and is perhaps THE film I’ve seen the most times in my entire life. Spider-Man 2 continues the story of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man as he enters a rough patch in his life; he’s lost his job, his girlfriend and now his powers, whilst a new threat, Dr Otto Octavius, played by Alfred Molina, wreaks havoc across New York City. Unlike Raimi’s original Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 isn’t bogged down by having to tell an origin story; instead it expands upon the cinematic world and develops its characters further whilst ultimately introducing a compelling antagonist in Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. Additionally, Spider-Man 2 clearly displays the increased budget and additional creative control granted to Raimi after the success of the first, as Spider-Man 2 is better made than the original in every way. The shots look cooler, the editing is more exciting and the story is richer and more ambitious. Spider-Man 2 proves sequels can better their original movies with the aid of a good script, a competent director and less studio interference. It’s the film that introduced me to the power of cinema and I’ve never looked back since.

(Source - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spider-Man_2-Logo.svg)

(Spider-Man 2 Logo)

3 – Spring (2014, Aaron Moorehead & Justin Benson)

(Source - own work)

(Cinematographer and co-director Aaron Moorehead and myself at the London Film Festival 2019)

At number 3 is the little known, low budget, genre defying horror romance entitled, Spring. After losing his job and mother, a directionless young man named Evan, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, flees to Italy. Whilst backpacking across the country, Evan has a chance encounter with Louise, played by Nadia Hilker, a mysterious genetics student who harbors a supernatural secret. Co-director Justin Benson pens endearing characters, surprisingly hilarious dialogue and a truly compelling storyline, whilst co-director Aaron Moorehead shoots a beautifully intimate, yet picturesque movie. Under their shared direction, Spring blends together naturalistic acting, atmospheric cinematography and an captivating supernatural storyline making it a truly boundless movie that’s completely unique to its talented filmmakers. Spring is an inspiring watch for any artist low on money and determined to express their vision, so when I got to meet Moorehead and Benson at the London Film Festival 2019, I was pathetically star struck.

2 – Anomalisa (2015, Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson)

(Source - https://www.flickr.com/photos/rich_lem/23793118340)

(Michael Stone and Lisa Hesselman in Anomalisa)

Our penultimate film on this list is an animated film, yet it is ironically one of the most human movies in existence. Based on Charlie Kaufman’s audio play of the same name, Anomalisa tells the story of Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis, an author and motivational speaker specializing in customer service. Cynical and drained by the mundanity of his life, Michael checks into a hotel on routine business, however, his life is about to change forever, when he encounters an enchanting admirer of his named Lisa, voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Anomalisa is as mature, adult and deep thinking as expected from a Charlie Kaufman film, however, Anomalisa also features a beautifully poignant use of stop motion animation curtsy of co-director, Duke Johnson. The film’s animated form comes to us out of thematic necessity, something rarely seen in cinema and Anomalisa blends its stop motion animation and complex themes surrounding humanity to perfectly unconventional results. Modest, personal and featuring one of the most realistically awkward sex scenes in all of cinema, Anomalisa may be an animation, but it’s more human than any film you’re likely to have seen for years.

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(Anomalisa title)

1 – Her (2013, Spike Jonze)

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Writer, director Spike Jonze and the cast of Her at the New York Film Festival 2013)

And finally, my number 1 favorite film of the 21st century is also my all-time favorite film, which is of course, Spike Jonze’s modern romantic masterpiece, Her. After his wife files for divorce, lonely letter writer Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix,  struggles to belief that he can be loved by anyone, however, after installing an advanced new operating system who names herself Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, a relationship blossoms in a way neither of them knew was possible. Her is living and breathing entity of a movie in which you can feel that Jonze has woven a part of himself into this deeply personal academy award winning screenplay. Although I have never met Spike Jonze, I feel more and more connected to him through my continued revisiting and admiration of this film. Not only is Her a deeply personal story that resonates so purely, it’s also a perfectly surreal, yet authentically original presentation of love and loneliness in our increasingly disconnected tech obsessed society. With help from a powerfully score from Arcade Fire and a reliably captivating performance from Joaquin Phoenix, Her is a modern day masterpiece that connects with me like no other film has, making it my favorite film of the 21st century thus far, and my favorite film ever made.

(Source - http://www.herthemovie.com/)

(Her title)

Outro

Finally we have reached the end of my top 100 films of the 21st century thus far. Thank you to everyone that read any of my 10 parts to this countdown, whether you read all 10 or just my top 10, thank you for taking the time to read my words, it means the world to me. Do let me know what you thought of this list. Do you agree with some of my choices? Are there some you disagree with? Are there some films you’ve never seen or even heard of? Or did I just hit the nail on the head because my taste is impeccable? I don’t know about you, but I think the latter. Nonetheless, thank you for reading my top 10 films of the 21st century thus far, expect more articles and reviews from me sometime in the future, stay safe.