People have been asking me so I thought I might as well join (or crash) the party initiated by The New York Times last week and put in my two cents regarding the 25 Best Films of the 21st Century (so far). I don’t see “everything” anymore and I haven’t been to Cannes since 2011 still there’s nothing that even a recovering film critic likes better than a list.
There is some overlap but this list is not the same as the proposed 21-film syllabus of 21st Century cinema included in my book Film After Film. Those were all in their way pedagogical choices. Begging the question of what “best” means, these are all movies that I really like, that I’m happy to see multiple times, that are strongly of their moment and that I think will stand the test of time.
My single “best” film-object is followed by a list of 11 filmmakers and one academic production company (in order of “best-ness”) responsible for two or more “best films,” these followed by another eight individual movies (again in order) and finally four more tentatively advanced films (these alphabetical). I’m sure I’m forgetting some but that’s the nature of the beast—or best.
Christian Marclay: The Clock
Lars von Trier: Dogville & Melancholia (and none of his others)
Hou Hsiao Hsien: The Assassin & Flight of the Red Balloon
Jean-Luc Godard: In Praise of Love & Farewell to Language
David Cronenberg: Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, & A Dangerous Method
David Lynch: Mulholland Drive & Inland Empire
Ken Jacobs: Seeking the Monkey King, The Guests (and more)
Cristi Puiu: The Death of Mr Lazarescu & Aurora
Chantal Akerman: No Home Movie & La Captive (assuming that 2000 is part of the 21st Century)
Paul Thomas Anderson: The Master & There Will Be Blood
Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker & Zero Dark Thirty
Alfonso Cuarón: Gravity & Children of Men
Sensory Ethnology Lab: Leviathan, Manakamana, People’s Park
The Strange Case of Angelica–Manoel de Oliviera
Corpus Callosum–Michael Snow
West of the Tracks–Wang Bing
Russian Ark–Aleksandr Sokurov
The World–Jia Zhangke
Day Night Day Night–Julia Loktev:
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia–Nuri Bilge Ceylan