21st Century Movies: The NYT v. Us

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, the two main film critics at The New York Times, have released their list of the best movies of the 21st century so far:

1. There Will Be Blood
2. Spirited Away
3. Million Dollar Baby
4. A Touch of Sin
5. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
6. Yi Yi
7. Inside Out
8. Boyhood
9. Summer Hours
10. The Hurt Locker
11. Inside Llewyn Davis
12. Timbuktu
13. In Jackson Heights
14. L’Enfant
15. White Material
16. Munich
17. Three Times
18. The Gleaners and I
19. Mad Max: Fury Road
20. Moonlight
21. Wendy and Lucy
22. I’m Not There
23. Silent Light
24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
25. The 40-Year-Old Virgin

A mixture of overpraised critical darlings (“There Will Be Blood”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Inside Out”, “Boyhood”, “The Hurt Locker”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Moonlight”), film festival stalwarts (Assayas, Wiseman, Dardenne Brothers, Varda), awful indies (“Wendy and Lucy”, “I’m Not There”), and the safe obligatory curveball (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”). In other words, pretty much what you’d expect from an Establishment rag. The one surprise for me was “Munich”, a movie I haven’t heard anyone talk about since the end of its original run.

Token NYT conservative Ross Douthat offered his riposte to the Dargis-Scott list:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
3. Max Max: Fury Road
4. Mulholland Drive
5. The New World
6. Pan’s Labyrinth
7. Moulin Rouge!
8. The Squid and the Whale
9. The Social Network
10. The 25th Hour
11. Ida / The Gods of Men / Cavalry
12. The Passion of the Christ / Apocalpyto
13. The Lives of Others
14. No Country For Old Men
15. The Royal Tenenbaums
16. The Queen of Versailles
17. Arrival
18. Inglorious Basterds
19. Lord of the Rings
20. Grizzly Man
21. Eastern Promises
22. The Incredibles
23. Gladiator

Any list that contains “MM:FR” is by definition disqualified. While defending his choice of “No Country For Old Men” over the other Coen Brothers offerings, Douthat says, “Better safe than wrong.” Spoken like a real schoolboy suck-up, Ross. Here at UR, we say better interesting and wrong than safe.

Which brings me to our lists, which we offered last summer. I might make a couple of adjustments here or there given the last year’s offerings, but I think we all still basically stand by our choices. While looking over the above, I realized I never did a follow-up post where I tallied our shared favorites. Herewith I rectify that shameful oversight and submit our meta-list as a counter to those offered by our cultural overlords at the Times:


4 votes:
1. Margaret (Lonergan, 2011)


3 votes:
2. Training Day (Fuqua, 2001)
3. Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001)
4. Apocalypto (Gibson, 2006)
5. Black Book (Verhoeven, 2006)
6. A Serious Man (Coen Bros., 2009)
7. Oslo, August 31st (Trier, 2011)
8. The Trip to Italy (Winterbottom, 2014)


2 votes:
9. Unbreakable (Shyamalan, 2000)
10. Yi Yi (Yang, 2000)
11. Cast Away (Zemeckis, 2000)
12. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Jackson, 2001)
13. Cocaine Cowboys (Corben, 2006)
14. The Last Mistress (Breillat, 2007)
15. Michael Clayton (Gilroy, 2007)
16. Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
17. True Grit (Coen Bros., 2010)
18. The Trip (Winterbottom, 2010)
19. Sucker Punch (Snyder, 2011)
20. Byzantium (Jordan, 2012)
21. Blue is the Warmest Color (Kechiche, 2013)
22. Only God Forgives (Refn, 2013)

I’ll round it up to 25 by adding:

23. The Blue Planet and Planet Earth (Fothergill, 2001 and 2006)
24. Two Lovers (Gray, 2008)
25. A Separation (Farhadi, 2011)

Strikes a pretty good balance, if you ask me. For starters, there’s a refreshing lack of take-your-medicine foreign and indie movies. There’s mainstream Hollywood pop (“Training Day”, “Cast Away”, “True Grit”, “The Fellowship of the Ring”), a healthy dose of eroticism (“Blue is the Warmest Color”, “Black Book”, “The Last Mistress”), a lesser-seen franchise (Winterbottom’s “The Trip” series), a lesser-seen vampire movie (“Byzantium”), arthouse edginess (“Mulholland Dr.”, “Only God Forgives”), alpha males (“Apocalypto”, “Cocaine Cowboys”), proof that literariness doesn’t have to be boring (“Margaret”, “Two Lovers”, “A Separation”), and the just plain drugged-out and disreputable (“Crank: High Voltage”).


About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
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8 Responses to 21st Century Movies: The NYT v. Us

  1. JV says:

    Great list, except for Sucker Punch, which is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Even with that clunker, I’d rather spend a few days watching movies from your list than from the others.

    Seriously, Sucker Punch???

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JV says:

    If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking out The Great Beauty. It’s my favorite movie of the past few years and would definitely end up on a list like these if I wasn’t too lazy to compile one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just got a Filmstruck/Criterion subscription, so I’ll bump it to the top of my list.


      • JV says:

        Nice. I saw it on Hulu when that service had all the Criterion movies. Super bummed they split off into their own thing, I just can’t justify paying for yet another service. Let us know what you think of it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • peterike says:

        I just started with FilmStruck on Roku. It’s a bit buggy (crashed Roku a few times) and the interface is not well thought out, but the film selection is really excellent. I also like that unlike at Hulu, you can get some of the Criterion extras at FilmStruck. My recommendation is that it’s easier to use the website to build your watchlist.

        Also a great bonus: they have the 1963 “Tom Jones” movie, which has been difficult to find.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The app is finally on Roku? I had no idea.


  3. I definitely prefer your list to the NYT Establishment one (as evidenced by the fact I’ve seen more of them). I was very pleased to see UNBREAKABLE make the cut, as I find that one of the most enjoyable films I’ve ever seen. I disagree with THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, however. The LOTR film that I would say is by far the best, is also the one that get’s the least acclaim ie., THE TWO TOWERS.

    Liked by 1 person

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