Turd-Free Lists of the 21st Century’s Best Movies

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

The BBC just released a list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century as chosen by an international panel of film critics. Movie fans that we are — cinephiles, if you will — we immediately began analyzing it with the intensity of conspiracy theorists working their way through the Warren Commission report. I think it was Fabrizio who observed that for every good movie on the BBC list there are at least two turds. “Inherent Vice”? “12 Years a Slave”? “Mad Max: Fury Road”? Gimme a fuckin’ break.

So a few of us have contributed Entirely Turd-Free Lists of the Best Movies of the 21st Century™. Alright, so they’re more our favorites than any attempt at being “objective” — whatever that means — but it’s 2016 and I couldn’t resist the clickbaity headline. We’ll start off with mine.


Unbreakable (Shyamalan, 2000)
Fat Girl (Breillat, 2001)
The Piano Teacher (Haneke, 2001)
Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001)
Training Day (Fuqua, 2001)
Irreversible (Noe, 2002)
Minority Report (Spielberg, 2002)
My Summer of Love (Pawlikowski, 2004)
Sideways (Payne, 2004)
How Much Do You Love Me? (Blier, 2005)
Cocaine Cowboys (Corben, 2006)
Apocalypto (Gibson, 2006)
Black Book (Verhoeven, 2006)
The Painted Veil (Curran, 2006)
Once (Carney, 2007)
Michael Clayton (Gilroy, 2007)
Unrelated (Hogg, 2007)
Whatever Works (Allen, 2009)
A Serious Man (Coen Bros., 2009)
Leap Year (Rowe, 2010)
The Trip & The Trip to Italy (Winterbottom, 2010 & 2014)
True Grit (Coen Bros., 2010)
A Separation (Farhadi, 2011)
Oslo, August 31st (Trier, 2011)
Damsels in Distress (Stillman, 2011)
Killer Joe (Friedkin, 2011)
Margaret (Lonergan, 2011)
The Hunt (Vinterberg, 2012)
Byzantium (Jordan, 2012)
The Immigrant (Gray, 2013)
Young & Beautiful (Ozon, 2013)
Blue is the Warmest Color (Kechiche, 2013)
The Two Faces of January (Amini, 2014)
God Help the Girl (Murdoch, 2014)
Sicario (Villeneuve, 2015)

Enzo Nakamura writes:

[Enzo didn’t have time for any introductory niceties, but he was still generous enough to share his top 20. — BE]


The Pianist (Polanski, 2002)
The Best of Youth (Giodana, 2003)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003)
Code 46 (Winterbottom, 2003)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Cuarón, 2004)
Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005)
The Death of Mister Lazarescu (Puiu, 2005)
War of the Worlds (Spielberg, 2005)
Tell No One (Canet, 2006)
Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006)
The Prestige (Nolan, 2006)
The Last Mistress (Breillat, 2007)
Let the Right One In (Alfredson, 2008)
Summer Hours (Assayas, 2008)
A Serious Man (Coen Bros., 2009)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Herzog, 2009)
The Eclipse (McPherson, 2009)
Enter the Void (Noe, 2009)
Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)
Film Socialisme (Godard, 2010)
Let Me In (Reeves, 2010)
Margaret (Lonergan, 2011)
Sucker Punch (Snyder, 2011)
Oslo, August 31st (Trier, 2011)
Dredd (Travis, 2012)
Life of Pi (Lee, 2012)
Only God Forgives (Refn, 2013)
Dawn of Planet of the Apes (Reeves, 2014)

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

Part of me thinks the BBC’s list is pretty bad. The other part of me thinks it’s absurd to pass judgement on what is essentially a poll of professional movie commentators. Taken as the latter, I suppose it’s a successful list in that it accurately portrays elite (is that the right word?) opinion concerning movies. For a few years now I’ve joked with friends — my co-bloggers among them — about the peculiar taste-set of what I like to call the bi-coastal eunuchs. The eunuchs are typically urban, overly educated (meaning they’ve had the sense educated out of them), and white (spiritually if not always physically). They hate Armond White, loathe Michael Bay, and are embarrassed by Tyler Perry. They are very impressed by race-and-gender crapola, respond more to tone than content, and take Errol Morris and Ken Burns seriously. They revere Jim Jarmusch — though they can’t quite explain why. Movies that go for the gut or poke sensitive areas tend to bother them, because they strike them as hateful, or maybe just inappropriate. (And they LOVE to tsk-tsk at things that are inappropriate.) I suppose it’s accurate to say they approach movies in the way the literary establishment approaches books: to the latter group, there’s literary fiction, or the stuff worth taking seriously, and then there’s a bunch of stuff that’s disposable or just plain unworthy of whatever is the book equivalent of the Criterion Collection.

I’d describe the majority of the movies on the BBC list as the film versions of literary fiction. They’re made-to-be-taken-seriously-by-the-right-sort-of-people movies. This is true even of the various Pixar productions, which I’ve always taken to be immaculately crafted baubles of marketable appropriateness. I appreciate the effort that goes into making something like that, and I even somewhat admire a few pieces of Pixar’s output, but I’m not particularly moved or excited by it. “Inside Out” struck me as being aimed at helicopter parents who are prone to dramatize every wisp of emotion that flits across the mugs of their beloved little ones. (And why would I want any part of THAT?)

On the other hand, I think the list includes a lot of good (even great) movies, so who am I to complain? Of the top ten I Like “Yi Yi,” “In the Mood for Love,” and “Mulholland Dr.” a lot, and “A Separation” ain’t bad either. (“Eternal Sunshine” I’ve been meaning to revisit. I recall liking it, albeit with some reservations.)

Anyway, here’s my list. I wouldn’t argue for these being the “best” of the 2000s. They’re just some favorites. I haven’t seen some of them since they came out (as many as 16 years ago now!), so it’s possible I’d have a different take after a second viewing.


Cast Away (Zemeckis, 2000)
In the Mood for Love (Wong, 2000)
Almost Famous (Crowe, 2000)
Yi Yi (Yang, 2000)
Training Day (Fuqua, 2001)
Brief Crossing (Breillat, 2001)
Last Orders (Schepisi, 2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Jackson, 2001)
Chop Suey (Weber, 2001)
The Blue Planet (Fothergill, 2001)
Lantana (Lawrence, 2001)
Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001)
Friday Night (Denis, 2002)
Porn Theater (Nolot, 2002)
Secret Things (Brisseau, 2002)
Femme Fatale (De Palma, 2002)
To Be and to Have (Philibert, 2002)
The Story of Marie and Julien (Rivette, 2003)
Good Morning, Night (Bellocchio, 2003)
Crimen Ferpecto (Iglesia, 2004)
Before Sunset (Linklater, 2004)
Cafe Lumiere (Hou, 2004)
Red Eye (Craven, 2005)
Apocalypto (Gibson, 2006)
Come Early Morning (Adams, 2006)
Cocaine Cowboys (Corben, 2006)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Lin, 2006)
The History Boys (Hytner, 2006)
Black Book (Verhoeven, 2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness (Muccino, 2006)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Schnabel, 2007)
Lake Mungo (Anderson, 2008)
Appaloosa (Harris, 2008)
Sparrow (To, 2008)
Tyson (Toback, 2008)
Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
Enter the Void (Noe, 2009)
Visage (Tsai, 2009)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
Hell and Back Again (Dennis, 2011)
Into the Abyss (Herzog, 2011)
Margaret (Lonergan, 2011)
Oslo, August 31st (Trier, 2011)
Get the Gringo (Grunberg, 2012)
Byzantium (Jordan, 2012)
American Hustle (Russell, 2013)
Blue is the Warmest Color (Kechiche, 2013)
The Trip to Italy (Winterbottom, 2014)
The Mend (Magary, 2014)
Experimenter (Almereyda, 2015)

Sax von Stroheim writes:

Coming up with my list helped pinpoint why I find these consensus lists so annoying: 1) Prolific filmmakers tend to get shafted, because the vote for their work is spread out too much. Neither Hong Sang-soo or Johnnie To had any movies make that list, and I’d argue that they’re the two greatest directors working today — in the artsy/lit realm and pop realm respectively. 2) Relatedly, you get shafted if your pictures aren’t “events” of some type, whether art house or otherwise.


1. Yi-Yi: A One and a Two (Yang, 2000)
2. Two Lovers (Gray, 2008)
3. Hahaha (Hong, 2010)
4. The Happening (Shyamalan, 2008)
5. Romancing in Thin Air (To, 2012)
6. Safe Conduct (Tavernier, 2002)
7. Idiocracy (Judge, 2006)
8. Oki’s Movie (Hong, 2010)
9. Va Savoir (Rivette, 2001)
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014)
11. Training Day (Fuqua, 2001)
12. A Serious Man (Coen Bros., 2009)
13. Unbreakable (Shyamalan, 2000)
14. Primer (Carruth, 2004)
15. Woman on the Beach (Hong, 2006)
16. War Horse (Spielberg, 2011)
17. Cassandra’s Dream (Allen, 2007)
18. Exiled (To, 2006)
19. Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson, 2012)
20. Pain & Gain (Bay, 2013)
21. Life Without Principle (To, 2011)
22. The Mysteries of Lisbon (Ruiz, 2010)
23. Alps (Lanthimos, 2011)
24. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Allen, 2010)
25. Dumb and Dumber To (Farrelly Bros., 2014)
26. Unforgivable (Téchiné, 2011)
27. Around a Small Mountain (Rivette, 2011)
28. Gran Torino (Eastwood, 2008)
29. The Passion of the Christ (Gibson, 2004)
30. Hail, Caesar! (Coen Bros., 2016)
31. We Own the Night (Gray, 2007)
32. Midnight in Paris (Allen, 2011)
33. Margaret (Lonergan, 2011)
34. Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (Hong, 2000)
35. Battle Royale (Fukasaku, 2000)
36. Sparrow (To, 2008)
37. Mission to Mars (De Palma, 2000)
38. Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001)
39. Jack Reacher (McQuarrie, 2012)
40. No Country for Old Men (Coen Bros., 2007)
41. The Wind Rises (Miyazaki, 2013)
42. Apocalypto (Gibson, 2006)
43. Open Range (Costner, 2003)
44. The Trip to Italy (Winterbottom, 2014)
45. Taken (Morel, 2008)
46. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Bros., 2013)
47. Only God Forgives (Refn, 2013)
48. Irrational Man (Allen, 2015)
49. To Rome with Love (Allen, 2012)
50. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Coen Bros., 2000)
51. The Master (Anderson, 2012)
52. Stuck On You (Farrelly Bros., 2003)
53. Blackhat (Mann, 2015)
54. Drug War (To, 2012)
55. Michael Clayton (Gilroy, 2007)
56. Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
57. The Lady in the Water (Shyamalan, 2006)
58. The Gleaners & I (Varda, 2000)
59. How Do You Know (Brooks, 2010)
60. A Prairie Home Companion (Altman, 2006)
61. The Last Mistress (Breillat, 2007)
62. Crank (Neveldine/Taylor, 2006)
63. Cast Away (Zemeckis, 2000)
64. Election 2 (To, 2006)
65. Sucker Punch (Snyder, 2011)
66. Blue Beard (Breillat, 2009)
67. Good Morning, Night (Bellochio, 2003)
68. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Resnais, 2012)
69. The Claim (Winterbottom, 2000)
70. Fading Gigolo (Turturro, 2013)
71. Watchmen (Snyder, 2009)
72. The Darjeeling Limited (Anderson, 2007)
73. Like You Know It All (Hong, 2009)
74. Black Book (Verhoeven, 2006)
75. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alfredson, 2011)
76. Night and Day (Hong, 2008)
77. Collateral (Mann, 2004)
78. 13 Assassins (Miike, 2010)
79. Election (To, 2005)
80. The Village (Shyamalan, 2004)
81. The Trip (Winterbottom, 2010)
82. MacGruber (Taccone, 2010)
83. Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai (Miike, 2011)
84. The Ghost Writer (Polanski, 2010)
85. The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012)
86. Vengeance (To, 2009)
87. The Sleeping Beauty (Breillat, 2010)
88. 300 (Snyder, 2006)
89. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
90. Wild Grass (Resnais, 2009)
91. Interstellar (Nolan, 2014)
92. Hereafter (Eastwood, 2010)
93. The Yards (Gray, 2000)
94. True Grit (Coen Bros., 2010)
95. Woman Is the Future of Man (Hong, 2004)
96. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (Brooks, 2005)
97. Throw Down (To, 2004)
98. A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg, 2011)
99. The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (Scott, 2009)
100. Tree of Life (Malick, 2011)


  • Steve Sailer points out that what really ties the movies on the BBC list together is that they’re the kinds of films that give critics a lot to write and argue about.

About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
This entry was posted in Movies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Turd-Free Lists of the 21st Century’s Best Movies

  1. robert holzbach says:

    Fat Girl (Breillat, 2001) — good gravy! That woman has a disturbing voice.

    Long way from there to damsels in distress, but I heartily recommend both.

    Thanks for doing this. When I saw Llewellyn Davis on the BBC list, I yakked. Not that it’s a horrible film, just cmon man…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Henry Spencer says:

    No Country for Old Men didn’t make your list? It beats True Grit in my book.
    I’d add In the Bedroom — smallish but grown up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maz says:

    Were the 1990s a better era for movies than the 16 years since? I got that impression from looking at the ratings I’ve given to movies of the last few decades on IMDb. Or is it just an illusion caused by the fact that I used to watch a lot more movies than I do today and were younger then, too?


  4. Fun lists. Since 2001 I’ve pretty much stopped keeping up with new movies, though I’ve seen a bunch of them anyway. So I’m no one to pay much attention to. Even so, and relying almost entirely on your lists as a source, here are some movies I’ve enjoyed a lot from the current century.

    Fat Girl
    Training Day
    Enter the Void
    My Summer of Love
    How Much Do You Love Me?
    A Prairie Home Companion
    Black Book
    The Painted Veil
    Damsels in Distress
    Yi Yi
    Brief Crossing
    Mulholland Drive
    Secret Things
    Femme Fatale
    Good Morning, Night
    Come Early Morning
    the two “Crank” movies
    Get the Gringo
    Gran Torino
    Mission to Mars
    Open Range
    13 Assassins
    Ichi the Killer
    Visitor Q
    Torremolinos 73

    Cocaine Cowboys
    All In This Tea
    Food, Inc
    Tim’s Vermeer
    Inside Job
    The Gleaners and I
    Grizzly Man
    Into the Abyss
    Jodorowsky’s Dune
    Project Nim

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ricardo says:

    Happy that three of you chose Oslo, August 31st. Tremendous film.

    Some that I don’t think made your lists:
    My Joy
    Valhalla Rising
    The Proposition
    Bone Tomahawk
    Police, Adjective
    The Return
    4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
    Shaun of the Dead

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JV says:

    Nice to see Gaspar Noe represented in a few lists here. One of the few contemporary filmmakers whose movies I found myself totally surprised at. Irreversible, especially, from the title sequence to the end.

    Also nice to see Idiocracy on there. I’ve rewatched it a couple times and it only gets better and more prescient. And how about Mike Judge in general? His output in film and TV is incredible. I’d put his animated series King of the Hill up against anything of the past 16 years. Hank Hill should be a conservative icon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • KING OF THE HILL is one of my favorites. I like to drive nerds crazy by arguing it’s better than THE SIMPSONS.


      • JV says:

        The best of The Simpsons is hard to beat, but King of the Hill I think was more consistent, and funny until the end. Also, way more heart. Bobby Hill is certainly the funniest child character ever, and to think he was voiced by one of my TV crushes, the great (and sexy) Pamela Adlon.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Our Favorite Albums of the 21st Century | Uncouth Reflections

  8. Pingback: 21st Century Films | Uncouth Reflections

  9. Theodore Karamanolis says:

    Maybe it’s my English, but define turd please.


  10. Pingback: 21st Century Movies: The NYT v. Us | Uncouth Reflections

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