Top 20 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, Part I: 20 – 11

By: Movie Snurb –

Though we’re only about 17.5 years into the 21st century, we have already had a plethora of brilliant films. We’ve also had some of the worst films ever put on screen. However, this is a list to celebrate what I think are the 20 greatest films of 21st century. I haven’t put any limits on this- if the film came out from the year 2000 on, it’s fair game.

  1. The Royal Tenenbaums – 2001

            When I began this list I knew I was going to put a Wes Anderson film on it. There are some greats to choose from. I think Rushmore is his best film, but unfortunately that was released in 1998. Many think The Grand Budapest is his greatest, and though it is good, I think this is his modern masterpiece. Anderson has an ability to make a quirky, funny, charming film, and yet in the end its genuine heart sneaks up on you. It’s what makes his films great instead of just quirky indies. This film is one of his best because he takes so many different characters’ stories and follows them with great detail, and yet the overall film doesn’t suffer from jumping in between the stories. It’s great cast and all give brilliant performances; even Alec Baldwin’s voiceover work is brilliant.

  1. Oldboy – 2003

            Park Chan-wooks’ mystery thriller, which I consider to be a horror film as well, is one of the few films that blew my mind when I first watched it. Yes, I’m talking about the big reveal at the end of the film. If you don’t know the ending of the film don’t ruin it for yourself, just go watch it and have your mind blown. Not only is it the ending that makes this film great, the performances are stellar, the direction is masterful, and the cinematography is gorgeous. Chung Chung-hoon is a master at his trade and no better film shows this off. Oh Dae-su’s fight scene with the hammer is jaw dropping. You can see Chung’s latest work in The Handmaiden. This is a brilliant film that Hollywood felt the need to unnecessarily remake. No surprise, it did not do well critically. Just watch the original.

  1. Inception – 2009

            Another film that immediately blew my mind after I saw it, this one I couldn’t stop talking about either. How could you not, though? There are so many things to chew on and dissect in this film. The brilliant thing I really love about this film is Nolan never feels the need to spell everything out for the audience. Nolan knows his audience is smart and doesn’t shy away from high-minded concepts. This was an original idea, not based on any existing IP, or a sequel. That’s what makes this film so great. It was fresh, and great to see Hollywood was willing to still take chances on new ideas. Of course it helped that the The Dark Knight grossed over 1 billion dollars worldwide. However, with all of the reboots, sequels, and cinematic universes, it’s nice to see great original films are still being made.

  1. Inside Out – 2015

            I don’t think there is a better film to show your kids and teach them about emotions and how they work. I also think this is a great reminder to parents that children have emotions just like them and have a right to experience different emotions. So many times it seems that parents are yelling at their kids for being sad or mad in a moment. We’re all human and it’s going to happen. No human can be happy all of the time and neither should they strive to be. Our emotions are who we are, we should show them and experience them. It’s OK to cry, it’s OK to be angry, it’s OK to be disgusted. This was a very important film that I think could be used in classrooms.

  1. Steve Jobs – 2015

            “Steve Jobs is a master class in direction, acting, editing, and writing.” – Jack’s Movie Reviews. I couldn’t think of a better way to say this, so I figured I’d use a quote from Jack’s Movie Reviews on YouTube. This sentence is spot on. Danny Boyle’s fast-paced editing formula pairs perfectly with Aaron Sorkin’s genius and rapid fire screenplay. I honestly believe this might be his best screenplay to date, and his entire body of work is brilliant. For Sorkin’s fast paced writing you need capable actors to keep up and make the words feel natural. Michael Fassbender gives his best performance as Steve Jobs, making him human. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t really look like Steve Jobs, his performance helps make this film, along with Kate Winslet. She’s Steve’s yin to his yang. Winslet and Fassbender have great chemistry. What is so great about the editing? It helps the screenplay move along. This film is all talking, so you need to edit the scenes with multiple cuts. This way the audience doesn’t lose interest. When Steve and John Scully are arguing is the best example of all of these elements put together. This film is an action movie with words.

  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004

            Another brilliant original film, this time from the unique mind of Charlie Kaufman. Another great performance from Kate Winslet and a subdued yet stellar performance from Jim Carrey. This film asks the question that everyone has wondered; “If you could forget about your Ex, would you?” Would you erase all of the bad and good memories? Would it be that easy to forget about them? This film explores all of these questions and does it with brilliant quirky comedy. This film also is very emotional for people, obviously because everyone has asked this question to themselves, whether you were the dumper or dumpee. It’s as funny as it is sad and it’s not hard to see why Charlie won the Oscar for best original screenplay. It’s not only one of the best screenplays of the 21st century, but it’s one of the best all-time and should be taught in screenplay writing classes.

  1. Brokeback Mountain – 2005

            One of the best love stories and the saddest to ever be told. A film that was clearly ahead of its time because the Academy chose not to reward it, instead giving the top honor to Crash. Probably one of the biggest Oscar blunders of all-time. This film spoke volumes to everyone who was afraid to be themselves out of fear of persecution from either family, friends, or strangers. It boasts brilliant performances from the late Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway. The film is beautiful to watch with the scenery and cinematography. But it is also a beautiful love story that will bring you to tears. This is a must watch for everyone.

  1. The Departed – 2006

            How do you not put Scorsese on any best film of a certain decade list? It was just a matter of choosing which film I was going to pick. Considering this is the one he won Best Director and Best Picture for, plus it’s my favorite film of all-time, it was an easy pick. The direction is brilliant. The cast is massive and doesn’t falter with too many big names in one film. The acting is genius, but the best performance in the film belongs to Matt Damon. He’s built his career in Hollywood on being the charming hero. He plays the slimiest gutless POS and does it flawlessly. He’s an excellent counterpart to Leonardo DiCaprio’s troubled hero. Though they share very little screen time, it’s always evident that they’re going after one another. I’d also recommend checking out the film this is adapted from: Internal Affairs from Hong Kong.

  1. Before Midnight – 2013

              The Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight) is probably the most honest portrayal of love Hollywood has created. It’s the final film in this trilogy that truly caps this 18-year long story off. Richard Linklater’s writing is brilliant. What I love most about his writing is how real all of his conversations feel. Whether it’s Dazed and Confused and a couple high schoolers talking about getting high or a couple discussing whether to live in the US or Europe in this film, every conversation his characters have is one you feel like you’ve had before. Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy all write for the Before movies. The decision to have the main actors contribute to their characters and the story is a genius choice. It’s their chemistry that also makes these movies feel so real. Before Midnight is an honest and harsh look at the hard parts of Love.  Love is not always easy and smooth. This film shows that perfectly.

  1. Zodiac – 2007

            Zodiac is a film that has seemed to get more love and respect the older it gets. David Fincher’s 2nd best film behind one to appear on part 2, Zodiac is an unsettling look at obsession and how it can affect everyone around you. This film sucks you in and you don’t realize it, even with its 162 minute runtime. The audience becomes so invested in the story that we begin seeing what Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees, even if all of the evidence doesn’t point to it. It works because we become highly invested in solving this mystery. So, by the end of the film when Robert is in the basement of the movie poster artist we begin to get freaked out, because we are just as paranoid as Robert now.  We become frightened and begin thinking he’s in the house of the Zodiac and needs to get the hell out of there. The true story behind the Zodiac is curiously interesting, so naturally the movie is the same way. This allows Fincher to use his meticulous direction and bring the past back to life with disturbing accuracy. Careful when you watch this, you might get obsessed and try to solve the murders as well, and end up alone in a hotel room.

That is, it for Part I of this list. Be sure to look out for Part 2 coming tomorrow!

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One comment

  1. Tremendous 1st list. The Royal Tenembaums is my favorite Anderson picture. Agree that Eternal Sunshine should be taught in Film Class. Avoid the remake of Oldboy. The Before Series is the most honest portrayal of love. I have not seen Steve Jobs but will get on that ASAP

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