If there’s one thing that pop culture obsessives love doing, it’s making lists. If there’s another thing they love doing, it’s dissecting and arguing about a list made by another pop culture obsessive. What was included? What was overlooked? What ranked way too high and what should’ve ranked higher? These are the questions on which the discussion is built. So when the BBC published a list of the best 100 films of the 21st century based on top 10 lists of the most prominent critics worldwide, controversy was sure to erupt.
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” — How often have we all heard that resigned expression? How often have we said it ourselves? ‘The death of cinema’ is debated in university film studies programs worldwide. Critics lament the loss of ‘small movies’ in favour of superhero spectacles. Box-office analysts look for signs of an industry on the brink. Studio executives fear that video-on-demand may destroy the idea of going to the cinema more than broadcast and cable TV ever did. There have been a lot of great films released since the year 2000, but some of them stood above the rest and elevated the medium to a whole new level of storytelling.
BBC Culture reached out to 177 of the world’s most prominent film critics and asked them each for their top 10 picks for films released between the beginning of 2000 and the present day. When it was all said and done, BBC looked over the votes and came up with a list of the “100 greatest films of the 21st century.”
And . . .
David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive‘ lead the pack — as ‘the greatest film of the 21st century’
David Lynch’s 2001 landmark film, ‘Mulholland Drive,’ which even its most ardent fans admit is as maddeningly baffling as it is mesmerising, has been named the greatest film of the 21st century.
If you want to skip to the extra good stuff, and give yourself a quick education in great film, here are the top 25 with a few containing links to where you can watch them on any of your devices:
‘The Top 25 Greatest Films of the 21st Century according to BBC’
(Out of 100)
(These are the top 25 out of 100 best films of the 21st century according to BBC, based on film critics around the globe, and where you can watch them for yourself (just a few). All title Links will take you to IMDb.com)
25. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
Christopher Nolan’s Memento, an airtight puzzle of a movie about a man who can’t form new memories searching for his wife’s killer, set a standard for narrative sophistication that few mainstream films have tried to duplicate. Yet its challenging structure – opening with the final scene and working its way backward – isn’t a gimmick; it serves a thematic purpose, too, putting us as deeply in the dark as our protagonist. The film forces us to consider the unreliability of human memory and our tendency toward self-deception, even as it thrills us with a captivating crime-noir story. An existential tragedy masquerading as a twisty bit of pulp fiction? Unforgettable.
24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious, powerful and ultimately elegiac masterpiece centres on the question of whether man is, in fact, an animal. Tormented alcoholic Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) returns from World War Two and struggles, unsuccessfully, to conform to post-war America’s social evolution. Eventually he finds some sort of deliverance in the company and teachings of the leader of an urban cult, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Much has been made of the analogies between Scientology and Dodd’s cause, but the real point of the film is an exploration of thought and consciousness, and whether submission to belief systems can genuinely tame atavism. It all ends cryptically – and hauntingly. A mysterious phone call, a wistful serenade, an unseen goodbye. Repeat viewings confirm that this singular creation of Dodd was indeed Hoffman’s apotheosis, which would be apt, and even funny, if it weren’t so, so sad.
23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
All of Michael Haneke’s films are bound to haunt you. With Caché he cuts to the chase and makes the idea of haunting the theme of the story itself. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche star as a bourgeois Parisian couple that start to receive disturbing video tapes showing their home. Who is watching them? And what is actually revealed on those tapes? As soon as you realise that the true revelation lies in the couple’s reaction to the tapes, things start to dissolve. Interior and exterior conflict, individual and collective guilt become one as Haneke makes you face somebody who is made to face his and his country’s historical crimes. The act of not looking away is the moral imperative at the heart of Caché, which makes it a supreme political and cinematic movie at the same time.
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
Please stop trying to figure out what Bill Murray says to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Sofia Coppola’s beautiful and ineffably bittersweet second film; the words don’t matter, and the moment is only so powerful because you can’t hear them. The 21st Century’s reigning empress of cinematic ennui, Coppola has always used celebrity as a shortcut to the loneliness that exists between private lives and public images. But it’s this brief encounter on the streets of Shinjuku — this last goodbye between a dislocated young philosophy grad and a disenchanted old movie star — that solidifies Lost in Translation as her most perfect film, the one that best articulates how it can be to find yourself in a world that seldom lets you forget where you are.
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the 21st Century’s farewell salute to the century before. It vaults backwards in time from today to 1985 to 1968 to 1932, where Ralph Fiennes’ concierge Monsieur Gustave welcomes us to proper civilisation with a nod. We know Gustave’s immaculate world is ticking towards destruction, first by war, then by decades of neglect. Inevitably, the lazy and impersonal present will win, mass-producing not just our hotels, but our cinemas and the blockbusters on their screens. Wes Anderson has spent his career fussing over wallpapers. The Grand Budapest Hotel ennobles his craftsmanship; suddenly, Gustave’s decadent lamps represent mankind’s hope to outshine the darkness. This oddball tragicomedy enlists us in the fight for beauty. Sir, yes, sir.
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Synecdoche, New York was initially conceived when Charlie Kaufman was approached about doing a horror film. Instead of masked killers and extraterrestrial monsters, though, Kaufman set out to make a movie about the stuff that really keeps us up at night. Synecdoche, New York is every deep-seated fear you’ve ever had, writ large: you’ve disappointed your spouse and failed your children, you’ve let your loved ones die lonely, excruciating deaths, and you’ll never complete the work you were put here to do because you, too, will reach the end before you know it. And that, paradoxically, is what makes it so affirming. Kaufman’s masterpiece isn’t joyful, but it’s bursting at the seams with wild ambition and brimming with empathy. It’s a reminder that even at our lowest and darkest, we are not alone
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
With Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller dialed up the modern blockbuster to full blast. A cohesive vision with a structured journey built around themes of survival and endurance, the fourth entry in the dystopian franchise showcased what is otherwise the narrative and thematic drought within the Hollywood blockbuster machine. Cast in silver and gold, the film redefines the place of auteurism within mainstream cinema, as it portrays an idiosyncratic and singular perspective that refutes committee-driven film-making. Without resorting to cheap cynicism and faux-grittiness, Miller zeroes in on the sensuality of the environments, the carefully crafted machines and scorched landscapes. His future may be bleak, but it is filled with wonder and a hope derived from human ingenuity.
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
“A group of children act together as silent perpetrators of crimes” is an already disturbing premise. By setting the story in a north German village in the months prior to World War One, Haneke not only challenged the myth of childhood innocence but also delivered a fictional prequel to the upcoming events in Germany. The crisp black-and-white photography adds to the feel of an allegory but parallels are only slightly suggested (as in the purging of the “unwanted” that takes place). With any Haneke film, guilt and malice are in the air and no one in particular is to be blamed. Though it appears to look at the past, The White Ribbon speaks to this century’s audiences: an unsettling view of the danger of righteousness, an ominous threat that always seems to recur.
17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
Was there a more auspicious year for Mexican directors than 2006? Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo Del Toro offered intriguing and substantive examples of their vision in Babel, Children of Men and Pan’s Labyrinth. The last of these, the solitary Spanish-language title in this triad, is a counterpoint to the other two: it’s Del Toro going back to his roots, to his alchemy of pop and auteur cinema, to give us a look into the horrors of war – in this case the Spanish Civil War. A twin of Del Toro’s other beautiful Civil War picture, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth gives us tragedy through the filter of fantasy, going deep into a well of suffering and magic. Its power lies in its purity: nothing we can imagine is as terrible as what we can do to each other.
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
Check out the awesome trailer:
Holy Motors is not a movie. It is an act of grief designed as an expression of love, and while enfant terrible Leos Carax has been an essential director for any film fan since his debut, he has never before laid himself bare in the way he does with this movie, in which a man is driven around in a limousine, assumes various disguises and personas, and connects and disconnects with people who flit into his life. Surreal, silly, sexy and sad, Holy Motors is a guided tour through everything about cinema that matters to Carax. He was drowning as a man in his own life – Holy Motors was his first feature in 13 years after struggling to get financing – and he turned his art into a life raft. Movies matter. Here’s why.
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
Just so you know, (4 months 3 weeks) + (2 days) = 144.7474 days! (You’re welcome).
One scene, one cut, zero music. Cristian Mungiu’s 2007 Palme d’Or winner is a touchstone of the Romanian New Wave, a stark wonder of a film exemplified by visual precision, a bracingly clear-eyed script and glacial detachment. Imbuing a backstreet abortion with the brutal tension of a crime thriller – and abortion was a crime in 1980s Romania – Mungiu evokes the callous and repressive atmosphere of Ceausescu’s foundering dictatorship. Yet despite much harrowing imagery, depicted in unblinking detail within a fraught 24-hour timeframe, the film’s underlying humanism is glimpsed through the unbeatable spirit of protagonist Otila, a college student who takes unthinkable risks and goes through grueling lengths to help her friend Gabita fix her unwanted pregnancy.
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)
Harrowing, confrontational and surreal, The Act of Killing ends with Anwar Congo, the gangster who murdered nearly 1,000 people in 1965-66 following the military coup in Indonesia, coming to terms with his heinous crimes. Possibly. He sobs, vomits and laments the lives he had willfully taken away, and yet we’re never sure if he’s genuinely repentant or if it’s all a high-wire act on his part. But we want to believe that he is; we want to believe that justice is possible; that the killers may one day live through the agony they inflicted on the one million people they butchered. That’s the hidden drive behind Joshua Oppenheimer’s formally innovative debut feature. Few films have dared to capture the full spectrum of human evil so candidly, so perceptively, as Oppenheimer does in his unclassifiable non-fiction epic in which the Texas-born Danish film-maker convinces members of the death squads to reenact their murders in the style of their favourite Hollywood films. The Act of Killing is a piercing, multilayered study about national amnesia, about the power of self-deceit and the questionable morality of truth-seeking. Its status as the 21st Century’s most celebrated documentary will likely be preserved for a long time to come.
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
Here’s a bold statement about a bold movie: Children of Men, like no other film this century, and perhaps no other movie ever, solves the meaning of life. (The answer? More life, of course.) Alfonso Cuarón’s staggering 2006 adaptation of PD James’ novel is that rare picture that astounds with technical marvels – long, exquisite unbroken shots; a beguiling, but subtle, development in camera technology that allows for one of the most stunning scenes ever shot inside a car. But it is also rich and vital in its emotional and philosophical depth: its sadness, its anger, its reverence and worry for humanity. Cruelly overlooked in its initial release, Children of Men has endured to become a cult favourite that should be required viewing for anyone grappling with feelings of dread about modern civilisation. Which is to say, probably everyone. In the end there is transcendent hope, found amongst Cuarón’s beautiful, bracing rubble.
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
In one of the real-life Zodiac Killer‘s last letters he asked who would play him in the movie about his life. Now he knows the answer.
David Fincher, famed for doing dozens of takes, might know something about obsession. Zodiac, his meticulous, gorgeous and haunting true crime movie, is a deep dive into obsession, following a newspaper cartoonist who becomes consumed by the 1970s Zodiac murders. Featuring astonishing performances from a pre-resurgence Robert Downey Jr and a pre-Nightcrawler Jake Gyllenhaal, Zodiac pulses with jittery energy while luxuriating in its own peculiar slow burn to nowhere. Gloriously detail-driven, Zodiac drags viewers into a compulsive world where the smallest hint can be the biggest clue, and it presents the obsessive’s worst nightmare: that, in the end, answers are utterly unattainable. .
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)
The Oscar-winning Directors, Joel and Ethan Coen― the Coen Brothers, perhaps the most broad-terms successful American independent filmmakers of our time, made a film about failure. Having enjoyed a near-unprecedented level of consistent respect as artists, they wrote a story about an artist faced with consistent peer indifference. They cast imminent megastar Oscar Isaac, now a lynchpin of the America’s highest-grossing film of all time, as this also-ran, this nearly-man, this future obscurity. Into a vortex of high expectations, as the Cannes-competing follow-up to the Coens’ biggest-ever box office hit “True Grit,” which netted them 10 Oscar nominations, came a movie that deals almost exclusively in the currency of disappointment. Critics adored it. Well, the majority did, enough to have the film hold a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though safe to say J.Hoberman was not among them. And a small section of the moviegoing public was just as worshipful, giving it a remarkable per-screen average when it opened in limited release. But then, when it expanded, general audiences largely stayed away, maxing its domestic gross out at just over $13 million — far less than 1/10th the take of “True Grit” and just under half that of the inarguably lesser “Burn After Reading.”
Here’s how Monica Castillo, Film Writer at The New York Times sees it:
“He’s a messy haired loner strumming an acoustic guitar, struggling to show the world he’s got talent. No one cares, and no one wants to listen. Set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s, the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is an achingly melodic tribute to an unloved underdog. Davis (Oscar Isaac) is striking out on his own after his musical partner goes solo. Along his dour journey, he’ll find others vying for similar success and others just trying to survive, in a very Coen-esque manner. Inside Llewyn Davis is a solemn song for anybody trying to become somebody.” – Monica Castillo, The New York Times’.
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
The man is named Anton Chigurh. No, I don’t know how his last name is pronounced. Like many of the words McCarthy uses, particularly in his masterpiece Suttree, I think it is employed like an architectural detail: The point is not how it sounds or what it means, but the brushstroke it adds to the sentence. Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is a tall, slouching man with lank, black hair and a terrifying smile, who travels through Texas carrying a tank of compressed air and killing people with a cattle Stun-Gun. It propels a cylinder into their heads and whips it back again.
Don’t take this one-of-a-kind-killer so lightly — that’s your cautionary warning! Anton Chigurh is one strand in the twisted plot…
The man has his principles. Which he lives by. . .
If your answer is yes, congrats! on your last ever sightings…
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
If there is a film that makes you take a deep look at yourself in the mirror again and again, this is it. Asghar Farhadi’s searing relationship drama does not make a judgement about its characters. Rather, it pitches the situations so realistically that the viewer ends up sympathising with both protagonists even though they are pitted against each other. It isn’t surprising if most viewers find some reflection of their own lives in the events that occur during the course of the film. The gripping pace, the perfectly-pitched acting, the way the situations unfold – all made to look as if one is watching one’s neighbours, or maybe someone in one’s own home – create an unparalleled cinematic morality play.
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
Audiences in 2000 were astonished by how fluently Edward Yang’s Yi Yi portrays contemporary life through the intermingling stories of members of a Taipei family separated by the dilemmas specific to their stations in life. That’s quite ironic, because in today’s world of personal alienation through the allure of social media, the film now feels like a period piece, yet somehow, it resonates with an even greater urgency. Yi Yi is a reverently meticulous film, with its painstakingly detailed moods, and rituals that are seemingly endemic to the characters and their customs. Yet, it is also grandly universal. Its quiet reflections on life, love, family and death are all gracefully affecting, no matter the gap in generation and culture.
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Like a great poem, The Tree of Life opens itself to a thousand interpretations, as director Terrence Malick takes a spiritual and lyrical journey through time, from a dusty 1950s childhood in Texas back to the beginnings of the cosmos itself. This strange new pillar in the cathedral of US cinema stars Brad Pitt as an authoritarian father and Jessica Chastain as a tender and deeply religious mother of three sons. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is sun-dappled, or oozes images of boiling lava, dinosaurs and exploding planets, all to a soundtrack of Preisner’s Requiem — in this case a requiem to a dead son. The joys and aching losses of parenting become transcendent, even Biblical, in Malick’s hands.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
The story of a breakup gone wrong, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could easily have gone wrong itself. But this wasn’t your average whimsical tale of romantic yearning. After delivering some of the best music videos and commercials of the ‘90s, director Michel Gondry finally found his groove with Charlie Kaufman’s layered, head-spinning screenplay, injecting its jagged structure with warmth. Jim Carrey, meanwhile, boldly pushed against type to portray a perennially sad man literally trapped by his grievances and eager to let them unravel. But the movie belongs just as much to Kate Winslet, whose character’s decision to erase her own memories of the ex-couple’s time together sets the drama in motion. Eerie and surreal, charming and tragic, the movie wrestles with the fundamental instability of all human relationships, achieving a wise and powerful vision that is — ironically for a tale about fading memories — unforgettable.
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
This 21st Century masterpiece took most of the 21st Century to make. For more than a decade, Richard Linklater spent a few weeks each year chronicling the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane). He begins the movie in first grade; about three hours later, he graduates from high school. In between, Linklater crams in an astonishing survey of modern life. His bold logistical gamble – What if an actor had died? Or lost interest? – was way more than simple technical gimmick. Letting the story and characters evolve organically over the years gave them an authenticity that a young Linklater could never have faked, and watching the cast, which also includes Ethan Hawke and a remarkable Patricia Arquette, age before our eyes, adds an extra layer of poignancy to every single scene. In an era when every aspect of society was accelerating, Linklater slowed down to tell the one of the definitive stories of our time.
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
It’s hard to place any one of Studio Ghibli’s sweet, passionate animated films above the others, but Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away does particularly stand out for its visual sophistication and elaborate themes of determination, courage and good cheer. Miyazaki’s story of a young girl trapped in the spirit world, trying to rescue her parents, feels like a throwback to an earlier age of hand-drawn animation. Made at a point where CGI was taking over animated features in the US, Spirited Away has a lovingly handmade feel. But it also has an ambitious sweep to its elaborate visuals of Japanese spirit-monsters and a sense of soaring adventure. It’s a traditional fairy tale turned into an exciting narrative of transformation and discovery.
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
From its near-wordless opening scene, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood feels like something forged, not filmed. Daniel Day-Lewis, as turn-of-the-century prospector Daniel Plainview, grunts, spits and scrapes his way into a hole under baked Western earth; he strikes silver, drags his half-broken body to certify his claim, winds up discovering oil. The rest of the movie – a sprawling, half-mad testament to greed, industry, moral hypocrisy and ballyhoo at their most elementally American – could be watched with no sound at all and still be perfectly understood. But that would mean missing Jonny Greenwood’s musical score – one of the finest, most disquieting ever written – not to mention Plainview’s immortal words in the film’s confounding final act, a drunken distillation of capitalistic will as disarmingly childish as it is perverse: “I drink your milkshake.” Cheers!
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
The opaque and ashen ache of stolen moments, and the often painful passage of time hangs heavy upon Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, particularly in his masterpiece from 2000, In the Mood for Love. As anthem to the agony and ecstasy of close-lipped affection, this film, more than any other in Wong’s considerable oeuvre, is a Proust-like conjuration of memory and misgiving.The second installment of a rather loose trilogy that began with Days of Being Wild (1990) and concluded with 2046 (2004), In the Mood for Love unravels in Hong Kong, 1962, centering on two neighbors living in a close quarters tenement house.Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung shimmer as Su Li-zhen and Chow Mo-wan, the neighbors in question, who rightly suspect their respective spouses are having an affair. Leung and Cheung, it must be said again and again, are wondrous in these roles, and are every bit as iconic as Bogie and Bacall before them.
The fugitive motions and fleeting looks of chiming clocks, the whorling of smoke rising from a cigarette, and the sentimental croon of Nat King Cole superabound Wong’s elegant period drama. Mr. Chow is something of a journalist, Mrs. Chan is a secretary for a shipping company, and soon the two of them will find themselves in the ephemeral fog of anguish, contrition, and the sweetest nostalgia. As next-door neighbors in close approximation they soon discover that their spouses are always absent at the same time. Their lives intersect more and more and soon a strange and strained relationship forms between them both. As a sensual memory piece In the Mood for Love is luminous, and the slowly simmering romance therein is an inextricable blending of physicality and formalism.
“Wong Kar-wai leaves the cheating couple offscreen. Movies about adultery are almost always about the adulterers, but the critic Elvis Mitchell observes that the heroes here are ‘the characters who are usually the victims in a James M. Cain story.’ Their spouses may sin in Singapore, Tokyo or a downtown love hotel, but they will never sin on the screen of this movie, because their adultery is boring and commonplace, while the reticence of Chow and Su elevates their love to a kind of noble perfection.” – Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times).
In the Mood for Love was supposed to be made fast, dirty, and on the cheap, in a fashion not unlike Chungking Express (1994). Maybe it was inevitable that this project, a long gestating follow-up to Days of Being Wild, concerned with pain and longing, should inflict similar damage on its designer, for Wong’s anguish is palpable in every loving, wistful, and spectacularly detailed frame. The bright colors and unconventional compositions that Wong’s name became synonymous with in the 1990s is here faultlessly fulfilled, even when hemmed in. In the Mood for Love renders on an intimate scale the intersection of misery and euphoria, of romance in retrospect, and makes it into cinema’s saddest song of love lost to history.
And here’s the Number One Film of the 21st Century . . .
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
is a true indie film maker. He makes his movies his way and never seems too concerned with whether or not they’re accessible or will find an audience. But every few years, one breaks through and goes beyond his own cult audience, hitting hard with mainstream success. Movies like and will pop up, and remind regular movies goers that the dude who made is still around. The last movie of his that I remember breaking through big, was .
Lynch’s themes are wild and unconventional: dreams materialised; crazy thought bubbles brought to life. Whereas Orson Welles’ great film begins with a brief moment of surrealism – involving a snow globe and the cryptic word “Rosebud” – but then proceeds in a more straight-forward manner, Lynch maintains the surreal atmosphere throughout. In this sense Mulholland Drive picks up where Citizen Kane left off.
Its dream-like qualities give rise to many confusing and unexplained things that naturally encourage interpretation. But as critic Roger Ebert, one of the film’s greatest champions noted: “There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.”
The best explanation was the long one on Salon.com. The site suggests the old couple are judges of the jitterbug contest that Betty won and then at the end, signs of her innocent past come back to terrorise her. It answers some of the smaller puzzles, too, such as: who is Jennifer Syme, the woman the film is dedicated to? (An actress who appeared in Lost Highway, who died in a car accident.) The movie is hypnotic; we’re drawn along as if one thing leads to another but nothing leads anywhere, and that’s even before the characters start to fracture and recombine like flesh caught in a kaleidoscope. Mulholland Drive isn’t like Memento, where if you watch closely enough you can hope to explain the mystery. There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that David Lynch’s mind-bending mystery-drama Mulholland Drive has been named by BBC Culture’s critics’ poll as the best film of the century so far. Its very roots lie in television: the film began as a failed TV pilot and was salvaged into feature-length format.
Mulholland Drive’s own troubled history, and the studio politics and power plays depicted by Lynch in the film itself, hardly feel like coincidences. Under its dream-like veneer, Mulholland Drive is a brilliant commentary on Hollywood’s machinations, at least partly informed by its own woes.
Beginning life during the development of Lynch’s cult TV show Twin Peaks, the director eventually pitched an idea for Mulholland Drive as a series in 1998. He was given a green light by US cable network ABC, which hoped to replicate the success of the director’s small-town mystery serial.
ABC was unimpressed with the first episode, which they considered slowly paced and drawn out – 37 minutes too long to fit into a conventional TV timeslot. They also objected to several things captured in the shoot, including an extreme close-up of dog excrement. In early 2000 Lynch managed to rescue the project by agreeing to turn Mulholland Drive into a feature film, equipped with a budget twice the original size.
Just to let you know guys, that took me 4 months to figure out. Sorry for the spoiler. A reason why it’s also one of the ‘Weirdest films of all time!’
Now, check out the complete list of all 100 films below:
(And if you’re curious who the critics are and what each of their lists looked like, you can see that here).
BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century
|1||Mulholland Dr||David Lynch||2001|
|2||In the Mood for Love||Wong Kar-wai||2000|
|3||There Will Be Blood||Paul Thomas Anderson||2007|
|4||Spirited Away||Hayao Miyazaki||2001|
|6||Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind||Michael Gondry||2004|
|7||The Tree of Life||Terrence Malick||2011|
|8||Yi Yi: A One and a Two||Edward Yang||2000|
|9||A Separation||Asghar Farhadi||2011|
|10||No Country for Old Men||Coen Brothers||2007|
|11||Inside Llewyn Davis||Coen Brothers||2013|
|13||Children of Men||Alfonso Cuaron||2006|
|14||The Act of Killing||Joshua Oppenheimer||2012|
|15||4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days||Cristian Mungiu||2007|
|16||Holy Motors||Leos Carax||2012|
|17||Pan’s Labyrinth||Guillermo Del Toro||2006|
|18||The White Ribbon||Michael Haneke||2009|
|19||Mad Max: Fury Road||George Miller||2015|
|20||Synecdoche, New York||Charlie Kaufman||2008|
|21||The Grand Budapest Hotel||Wes Anderson||2014|
|22||Lost in Translation||Sofia Coppola||2003|
|24||The Master||Paul Thomas Anderson||2012|
|26||25th Hour||Spike Lee||2002|
|27||The Social Network||David Fincher||2010|
|28||Talk to Her||Pedro Almodóvar||2002|
|32||The Lives of Others||Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck||2006|
|33||The Dark Knight||Christopher Nolan||2008|
|34||Son of Saul||László Nemes||2015|
|35||Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon||Ang Lee||2000|
|37||Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives||Apichatpong Weerasethakul||2010|
|38||City of God||Fernando Meirelles Kátia Lund||2002|
|39||The New World||Terrence Malick||2005|
|40||Brokeback Mountain||Ang Lee||2005|
|41||Inside Out||Pete Docter||2015|
|43||Melancholia||Lars von Trier||2011|
|44||12 Years a Slave||Steve McQueen||2013|
|45||Blue Is the Warmest Colour||Abdellatif Kechiche||2013|
|46||Certified Copy||Abbas Kiarostami||2010|
|49||Goodbye to Language||Jean-Luc Godard||2014|
|50||The Assassin||Hou Hsiao-hsien||2015|
|52||Tropical Malady||Apichatpong Weerasethakul||2004|
|53||Moulin Rouge!||Baz Luhrmann||2001|
|54||Once Upon a Time in Anatolia||Nuri Bilge Ceylan||2011|
|56||Werckmeister Harmonies||Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky||2000|
|57||Zero Dark Thirty||Kathryn Bigelow||2012|
|59||A History of Violence||David Cronenberg||2005|
|60||Syndromes and a Century||Apichatpong Weerasethakul||2006|
|61||Under the Skin||Jonathan Glazer||2013|
|62||Inglourious Basterds||Quentin Tarantino||2009|
|63||The Turin Horse||Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky||2011|
|64||The Great Beauty||Paolo Sorrentino||2013|
|65||Fish Tank||Andrea Arnold||2009|
|66||Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring||Kim Ki-duk||2003|
|67||The Hurt Locker||Kathryn Bigelow||2008|
|68||The Royal Tenenbaums||Wes Anderson||2001|
|70||Stories We Tell||Sarah Polley||2012|
|72||Only Lovers Left Alive||Jim Jarmusch||2013|
|73||Before Sunset||Richard Linklater||2004|
|74||Spring Breakers||Harmony Korine||2012|
|75||Inherent Vice||Paul Thomas Anderson||2014|
|76||Dogville||Lars von Trier||2003|
|77||The Diving Bell and the Butterfly||Julian Schnabel||2007|
|78||The Wolf of Wall Street||Martin Scorsese||2013|
|79||Almost Famous||Cameron Crowe||2000|
|80||The Return||Andrey Zvyagintsev||2003|
|82||A Serious Man||Coen Brothers||2009|
|83||Artificial Intelligence: A.I.||Steven Spielberg||2001|
|85||A Prophet||Jacques Audiard||2009|
|86||Far From Heaven||Todd Haynes||2002|
|89||The Headless Woman||Lucrecia Martel||2008|
|90||The Pianist||Roman Polanski||2002|
|91||The Secret in Their Eyes||Juan José Campanella||2009|
|92||The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford||Andrew Dominik||2007|
|94||Let the Right One In||Tomas Alfredson||2008|
|95||Moonrise Kingdom||Wes Anderson||2012|
|96||Finding Nemo||Andrew Stanton||2003|
|97||White Material||Claire Denis||2009|
|99||The Gleaners and I||Agnès Varda||2000|
|100 (tie)||Carlos||Olivier Assayas||2010|
|100 (tie)||Requiem for a Dream||Darren Aronofsky||2000|
|100 (tie)||Toni Erdmann||Maren Ade||2016|
∗ Reference: The 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century is a list compiled in August 2016 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), chosen by a voting poll of 177 film critics from around the world. It was compiled by collating the top ten films submitted by the critics who were asked to list the best films released since year 2000.
- “The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films” — BBC.uk August 23, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- “BBC – Culture – The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films: Who Voted?” — BBC.co.uk Retrieved 28 August 2016.
⇒ About The LIST⇐
♣ Scanning through the list, the first eyebrow-raising result is also a thumpingly satisfying one. At 10, there’s a Coens dead heat between Inside Llewyn Davis and No Country For Old Men – two films that more or less encompass the brothers’ inimitable house style, flawless technique and scaldingly funny pessimistic worldview. The Coen brothers are two of the most popular directors on the list: the others are Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. All men, of course – though I count nine films directed by women on the list, including Britain’s own Andrea Arnold, whose astonishing Fish Tank rightly made the cut. (Three more were co-directed by women).
The two steps down comes another: at 12, in a tie with Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, is David Fincher’s Zodiac: widely overlooked on its original release and ignored by the Oscars (it had the misfortune to surface in the same year as There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men), it now stands vindicated as one of the great works of American cinema of recent times, topping even The Social Network at 27. (Personally, I think it’s Fincher’s best film.)
The resulting top 100 list has Mulholland Drive (2001) at No 1, followed by Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000); There Will Be Blood (2007); Spirited Away (2001); and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014). The most popular directors in the list, all with three films each, were Wes Anderson, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Christopher Nolan, Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson and Joel and Ethan Coen.
♦ Matthew Anderson, the editor of BBC Culture, said greatest film polls often looked right back into the past.
“…we wanted to find out about the best films in recent memory. These are the films that most people feel strongly about. We hope that this list will spark discussion and debate, not just among critics and film aficionados, but among everyone who enjoys movies and has an opinion about what makes a good one.”— Matthew Anderson, the editor of BBC Culture.
♠ Each Critic was allowed to submit 10 films which resulted in a total of 599, then sorted into the top 100.
Mulholland Drive, originally planned as a six-part TV show, came in at No 1 was described by the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw (a legendary Critic and perhaps the ‘Roger Ebert’ of another planet) as “creepy, fascinating, dreamily self-indulgent” as well as being “very enjoyable”.
The most popular year for films was 2012, with 10 films in the top 100 including The Act of Killing (14) and Holy Motors (16). Nine films from 2013 also featured, including 12 Years a Slave and Blue is the Warmest Colour. There is no room for some of the most popular films of the last 16 years, no Harry Potters or Hobbits or Pirates of the Caribbean; but there is a place for the more obviously commercial movies such as George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) at 19, WALL-E at 29 and Ratatouille at joint 90. Even Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012) made the cut —came in at #74— which means it manages to beat Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013), Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001) and Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002) — Sticke Three!
♠ Take a look at the Infographic below (click the thumbnail) and find some of the most interesting facts about BBC’s list (sort through the data to find out more about how the critics voted):
⇒ Selection criteria⇐
BBC Culture requested 177 film critics from around the world to submit their responses for ten films which according to them are the greatest. The time period was limited from January 2000 to June 2016 (when the responses were completely collected). Each film listed in these responses were then given points based on their ranking. For instance, if a film was ranked at #1 in a critic’s list, that film would get 10 points, whereas the one ranked at #10 would get 1 point.
The list has 102 titles to be exact, due to a tie between Carlos, Requiem for a Dream, and Toni Erdmann for the 100th rank. With three each, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael Haneke, and the Coen brothers have the largest number of films in the list.
A total of 177 critics from 36 countries participated in the poll, with the largest number (81) from the United States followed by the United Kingdom. Out of the 177, 122 are men and 55 are women, and are primarily newspaper/magazine film reviewers, website film reviewers, academics, and cinema curators.It goes without saying that this list, like all lists, is subjective. There is no objective way to gauge a film’s quality and each critic looks at a movie through their own complicated and highly personal set of criteria. It’s probably more useful to consider this as a measure of movies are popular among the critics surveyed (which, full disclosure, includes yours truly), and a way of starting conversations about the films and filmmakers we dearly love.
There’s a little overlap with the OSCARS: three Best Picture winners (No Country For Old Men, 12 Years a Slave and Spotlight) and 16 more nominees – one of which, Inglourious Basterds, was directed by one of the few filmmakers who might justifiably feel hard-done-by at the results. And as further proof that critical praise and Academy votes don’t always match up, you have to go to #10 before you hit your first Best Picture Oscar winner. In fact, of the 15 films that have taken home Best Picture since 2001 (since the 2001 ceremony celebrated films released in 2000), only four made it into the top 100.
Some types of films are more heavily represented than others. Comedies and documentaries seem to be rare, as are superhero movies despite the fact that it sometimes feels like they’re all Hollywood makes anymore. In addition, while it’s great to see so many different countries and languages featured in the top 100, it’s disappointing that female filmmakers made up only 10.5% of the 85 directors included.
Quentin Tarantino might be one of the trustiest American auteur brand names at the box office, but his critical standing appears to be trailing those of the two main Andersons (Paul Thomas and Wes), Richard Linklater, Fincher, the Coens and Terrence Malick. Mind you, there are more than a few iconic directors represented by just one film apiece, including Martin Scorsese, David Cronenberg – and, of course, David Lynch.
Many excellent films missed out on BBC’s top 100. But the biggest one was this:
♣ Many can and will argue or have argued that lists like these do more harm than good, by reducing the nuances of film criticism into simple rankings and framing an unavoidably biased consensus as a definitive statement of judgment. On the flip side, though, they can make for an interesting way to take the temperature of contemporary film culture, and offer an opportunity to discuss films we haven’t heard much about lately.
Please do take note that this list —and the way the movies are ranked —doesn’t actually come from me and me alone. It’s from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). All I did was ‘bringing the whole thing here.’ The ‘List’ and the order of ranking — both were published beforehand by BBC.
But yeah, the details and all or everything else is from me. No doubt!
Have a Nice Day!
Asif Ahsan Khan
© 2017 Asif Ahsan Khan. ® All Rights Reserved.