Top 20 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, Part II: 10 – 1

By: Movie Snurb –

Here is Part two of the list of the 20 greatest films of the 21st Century. I hope you enjoy numbers 10 -1.

  1. Zero Dark Thirty – 2012

            Many people think The Hurt Locker is Kathryn Bigelow’s best film. I do agree that The Hurt Locker is a great film, but Zero Dark Thirty is even greater. This was a massive story involving one of the largest attacks on US soil in American history. This involved the greatest 10-year manhunt for the man responsible for these horrific atrocities. This was an important story that needed to be told. Bigelow’s ability to create tense scenes of just dialogue is unmatched. Especially as the film moves along and more things happen to Maya’s colleagues, we become increasingly frightened and tense at what might happen to Maya. Then the last 30 minutes when they raid UBL’s house is one of the greatest scenes in film history. It felt like I didn’t blink for those entire 30 minutes.

  1. City of God – 2002

            I don’t know where to start with this film. It’s a whirlwind of fast editing and writing. Vibrant and exciting cinematography show off the 60’s and 70’s poverty-ravaged favelas of Rio De Janeiro. This film is storytelling at it finest; its ability to use voiceover to push the entire story forward is magnificent. Parts of this film remind me of The Godfather, especially during the baptism and murders. Lil Z gains control of the slums in a similar fashion and it’s brilliant to watch. The ability to show the same scene from different viewpoints allows you to learn something new every time you see the scene and I’ve never seen this use to better effect. This is an unflinching and saddening look at real problems in the world. However, it is worth the watch.

  1. Her – 2013

            This is an absolutely beautiful film, in the cinematography, set design and use of colors, the music, and the writing and acting. The score can stand on its own. It astutely captures the introspective, somber tone of the film. It’s perfect to put on, close your eyes, and let the music take you away. This film accurately depicts our modern relationships; our use and almost dependency on technology has helped and also hinders us in building solid relationships. Especially texting; we can “ghost” people and never talk to them again. We lose the intimate connection in relationships. This film says we need that human connection; we can only get so close to a screen or through a phone. We need human interaction to have a true relationship. This is a film everyone should see once in their life.

  1. Manchester by the Sea – 2016

            I did not expect this film to be as heavy and phenomenal as it is. This is a film that sticks with you because we can see and understand this story happening. How a small decision we think is insignificant can change so many people’s lives. It also feels so real because it depicts grief in real life. So many times in movies everyone at a funeral is bawling. However, in real life most people are quiet and somber. There are moments of humor in tragedy, like when Michelle Williams is being put in the ambulance and the legs to the stretcher keep falling. These are tiny things that happen that we can’t control. The film feels honest and real, which makes it all the more gut-wrenching. It has been talked about to death, but this was the perfect casting. Lee is a quiet introverted person; he bottles his emotions and it is in the moments when Casey Affleck isn’t talking that we see his best acting. It’s internalized and only brought out by body language and facial cues, which Casey does brilliantly. It’s a tough film to stomach, but the payoff is worth the watch.

  1. No Country for Old Men – 2007

            This film has been dissected countless times and for good reason, it’s brilliant. This is a film that should be taught in film schools for directing, editing, writing, and acting. The theme is what makes this film above many others. I’ve watched several film dissections of this movie, and it’s apparent that this film’s theme is up for interpretation, which can be a very bad thing because of inept filmmaking, but in this case it’s because the film is so great it takes a few watches before you can begin discussing it, and everyone has a different opinion. I believe that the film represents society, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) represents any person going through life, and Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) represents the trends in life that begin to make you feel old because you don’t understand them. Whether it’s a progressive movement or a weird music trend, sooner or later this world will put you out to pasture.

  1. In the Mood for Love – 2000

            Wong Kar-Wai has a keen eye for beauty and it shows in his films, with the actors, set design, and costume design. His films pop off of the screen in a mesmerizing way.  He’s influenced so many filmmakers and most movie-goers have no idea. He’s influenced one director whose film will appear later on this list. This film is beautiful and yet it is heartbreaking. It poses a question everyone has asked, “What would it be like to date that person?” And in many cases the answer is never as good as the fantasy in our own heads. Most times our fantasies are much better served staying in our own heads. Once you open Pandora’s box it’ll never be the same. Sometimes we can even get lost in our own fantasies and it can consume us. We obsess about them and build them up in our head and the outcome is never as good as we build it up to be. Maybe it’s a better idea to keep these fantasies in your head and do what Chow Mo-wan does at the end of the film.

  1. The Social Network – 2010

            As close to a perfect film as you can get to, The Social Network is brilliant in every fashion from; Directing, Writing, Editing, Acting, and the Score (capitalization intentional). Aaron Sorkin is possibly the best screen writer we have working today and potentially the greatest ever. His rapid fire witty dialogue is hard to miss and sometimes harder to follow along. David Fincher’s directing and edit-heavy films are meticulous and keep the audience’s attention. The pairing of Fincher’s editing and direction and Sorkin’s dialogue is a match made in heaven. Sometimes Sorkin’s writing can be long-winded, and Fincher was able to sift through the script and give excellent constructive criticism. Also, since most of this film is people sitting and talking in rooms, Fincher’s editing makes these scenes that could get boring, even with the brilliant writing, become cinematic gold. Watch the scene when the Winklevoss twins and Divya are talking about what to do when they discover Mark stole their idea. Count the edits; I haven’t, but I’m sure it’s quite large. The score could stand on its own and proved Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are legit film score composers. It is an absolutely genius film, and it will be considered a classic in the future.

  1. There Will Be Blood – 2007

            I wrote a rather lengthy review of this film for this site and you should definitely check it out since I only have a long paragraph to explain why this film is so great here. However, this is a film that only comes along once every 15 years. Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius director and screenwriter. He has an ability to tell any kind of story with similar underlying themes of family, love, and religion. He knows his audience is intelligent, which is why he is able to elevate these films from good to great. The cinematography is amazing, especially in the scene when the oil pump blows. Daniel Day Lewis gives a performance for the ages and brings to life the larger than life character of Daniel Plainview. You love to hate this man who sees nothing in people worth liking. However, you can’t look away, and when he is not on screen you can’t wait for him to be back. I do think this is a film you should see more than once so you can fully capture and understand everything in the film.

  1. Moonlight – 2016

            This film stuck with me after I watched it the first time. For months I couldn’t shake this film from my mind. After I had thought about it for a few weeks I knew we had a very important and game-changing film. Barry Jenkins’ ability to take three different actors who share no screen time and make the audience believe that it is the same person is a remarkable gift, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. It’s a beautiful film; it not only gets under your skin, but it wraps itself around your soul and doesn’t let go for a very long time. Mahershala Ali’s Juan is an important character in this film. He represents those people in our lives that give you a hand and let you know it’s OK to feel different. Maybe you won’t feel like you belong sometimes, but that’s OK because there will always be someone that will accept you. Even though Juan is only in the 1st act of the film, you still feel like he’s there during the 2nd and 3rd act because of how he affected Chiron in such a short amount of time. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of film that everyone needs to see.

  1. Boyhood – 2014

            The idea to film a little bit every year for 12 years is a huge risk. For IFC Fims to take this massive risk is surprising; however they looked liked the smart ones when it paid off in the long run. When you watch this film you can’t poke a hole through any of it. I don’t believe it is a perfect film; however, I can’t find any fault when I watch it. Though it is called Boyhood, I really feel like it’s not only about Ellar, but about his mother and father and sisters’ journey through these 12 years. The film is full of brilliant performances. Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for her performance and it was rightfully deserved. Ethan Hawke gives a great performance. What is so great about this film is we get to see all of these characters grow, not just Ellar. In the end everyone is such a different person then who they were at the beginning of the film. This is a rare film that we do not get very often and many might take for granted. There is nothing spectacular or life-changing, but it’s something we have never seen before and we probably will never get to see it again. We get to watch these people age and grow for 12 years. It’s a special film that will be remembered for years.

I hope you enjoyed my list. Do you think I missed any films, or do you think there was one on this list that didn’t deserve it? Let me know in the comments!

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