New York Times recently posted their Top 25 Movies of the Century. I’m not sure why 2017 is a benchmark but when I see a list it’s my duty to analyze it. While going through their list I noticed that I’ve missed quite a few acclaimed movies since the Y2K scare. I’m going to use their list to fill in the gaps. As the resident movie buff of The Kids Wear Crowns, hopefully, you use my list to fill in any gaps you may have as well.
[Note: As always, a disclaimer: I’ve seen a loooooooot of movies. At the same time, I’m sure there are a lot of movies I have missed. This is a list of my favorites, not a definitive list of the best movies of the century]
25. Moonlight (2016)
Moonlight is only so low because it came out last year. Also, I’ve only seen it once. But no other movie in my life has challenged me quite like this one. Moonlight is hard to watch but it’s rewarding. If anything, this is a testament to the actors bringing these characters to life. It’s an examination of identity brought to life by Barry Jenkins’ beautiful direction and masterful performances. It’s 25, for now. That is sure to change.
24. Step Brothers (2008)
There’s nothing fancy about Step Brothers. It is what it is. Sometimes, a self-aware comedy is the best, though. Stepbrothers Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly doing what they do best. It’s easily the last great comedy.
23. Drive (2011)
Have you ever seen a preview for a movie and thought “Nah, I’ll pass”? Drive was an instant pass for me. I’m ashamed to admit that I initially passed on this movie because I thought it was an adaptation of the Driver video games. My fault. Drive is none of these things. It’s a throwback “bad guy must do a good deed” movie wrapped up sleek, stylish, movie making magic.
22. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
After watching Shame (which is good enough to make this list as well), I was looking forward to Steve McQueen’s adaptation of the Solomon Northrup story. Using his tremendous talent, he was able to capture all the complexities of a story that was unfamiliar to most before this movie.
21. The Master (2012)
Based loosely on the story of L. Ron Hubbard, The Master is a story of a man searching for something. That “something” is up you to decide as the viewer. Could it be identity? A family? Or even the humanity that lies within himself? The Master is a ahem masterful movie because of Paul Thomas Anderson’s vision and two great performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.
20. The Prestige (2006)
This movie works on so many levels because it convinces you that you’re crazy and your eyes are lying to you. Plus, this movie is an allegory of the real life beef between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. And it’s Batman vs. Wolverine. And there’s David Bowie.
19. The Social Network (2010)
If you were anywhere close to a Starbucks, Barnes & Noble or school library I’m sure you read Accidental Billionaires. This book wouldn’t end up being this movie if anybody else is involved. The Social Network takes what is already an incredible story and turns it into an incredible movie.
18. Layer Cake (2004)
When it comes to British gangster movies released since the turn of the century, you have a lot to choose from. There’s Gangster No.1, Sexy Beast, or any of Guy Ritchie’s 138 movies. But none of these quite have the decadence of Layer Cake. (The movie, not dessert. Although layer cake is delicious). This movie adds complexity to an underworld that’s only portrayed in a boring and mundane light. Plus, without this movie, Daniel Craig wouldn’t have been Bond.
17. The Dark Knight (2008)
Say what you want about this movie but it will forever serve as the catalyst for the superhero genre. Christopher Nolan brought Batman into the real world and made The Joker as frightening as ever. This movie had to be on this list because it’s a benchmark for the superhero movie boom we’re seeing today.
16. Oldboy (2003)
Worst best twist ever. Oh my God, that’s all I can say. I still can’t get it out of my mind. Just watch this, please.
15. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
This movie is that feeling of touching your loved one’s hand for the first time. It’s that look that you give your significant other that says “I love you”. It shows how pure and innocent love is by making the two main protagonists children. As a Wes Anderson stan, I gotta admit…this MIGHT be my favorite movie by him.
14. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Would you call me crazy if I said this might be Tarantino’s best movie? No? Ok.
13. Mystic River (2003)
When he’s not giving crazy speeches at the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood is a director with some pretty good movies under his belt. Not many are better than Mystic River. The heartbreaking performance by Sean Penn is worth the price of admission alone.
12. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo Del Toro, at his best, is one of the most creative directors ever. Pan’s Labyrinth is a beautiful fairy tale with sprinkles of Greek Mythology.
11. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
I know, I said Basterds might be Tarantino’s best film but this movie gives me more joy. I can watch Kill Bill Vol. 1 on a continuous loop for as long as I have a heartbeat. This movie is such an awesome throwback to 70s kung-fu movies I grew up on.
10. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
I’m going to get this out now: I cried at the end of this movie. Right there, in the middle of the theater, in front of everyone…I cried. I care not for your judgment either. This movie is beautiful. Shout out to Dev Patel and one of Drake’s best punchlines.
9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
It took me years to discover that I don’t hate romcoms, you just have to mix it up for me. Give me an unconventional ending like (500) Days of Summer. Give me crazy characters like Punch Drunk Love. Make me question if the movie is even a damn rom-com in the first place. Eternal Sunshine‘s has a lot of categories it could fall under, that’s why it’s so unique. This movie is weird but it’s a total must-see.
8. Zodiac (2007)
What if I told you there is a serial killer movie that is nearly 3 hours and only features the killer for less than a third of the movie? To make matters more interesting, the movie leaves the mystery unresolved. After that, what if I told you this movie was one of the best films of all time? As the name suggests, The Zodiac Killer is indeed the killer in this movie, but the real enemy is paranoia and the race to solve the unknown. Since the movie relies on these elements more, it’s that much more effective as a thriller.
7. Lost in Translation (2003)
Remember how I said I need an unconventional rom-com? Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Japan is as unconventional as it gets. Much like the title suggests, these two characters are lost in a foreign land and find each other to cope with loneliness. This movie plays off the emotion of love and not necessarily the physical aspect of it.
6. The Departed (2006)
Scorsese has made more classic gangster epics than any other director and The Departed is at the top of that list. Perfection.
5. Road to Perdition (2002)
This is a movie I could talk about all day. This movie has great performances by Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Daniel Craig and most importantly, Paul Newman. It’s a coming to age story about a father’s struggle to maintain his son’s innocence with a story about revenge draped overhead. Although I have it at #5, I wouldn’t be mad if it was at #1 on other lists.
4. There Will Be Blood (2007)
Daniel Day-Lewis’ transformations always scare me. He’s widely known as a method actor who remains in character while filming a movie. Imagine the evil, conniving, Daniel Plainview walking around.
3. City of God (2002)
Although this movie comes in at #3, if there is any movie you have to see from my list it’s this one. You haven’t seen anything like it before and you won’t see anything like it again.
2. Children of Men (2006)
I had Dish Network growing up and I relied heavily on the rating system to pick movies. 2.5/4 was a score I couldn’t go wrong with. 3/4 piqued my interest. One day I was scrolling and I saw a movie rated 4/4. I’m glad I watched because it instantly became one of my favorite movies of all time. This movie features beautiful single shot action sequences but still manages to keep itself grounded in reality. Alfonso Cuaron is a household name now but Children of Men remains his masterpiece.
1. No Country for Old Men (2007)
No Country for Old Men is a rare case of the movie adaptation being better than the book. Tommy Lee Jones really brings the story to life. This movie wears the sheep’s clothing of a story about a cartel drug deal gone bad but it’s really about mortality. This one became an instant top 10 entry from the first time I saw it but I can say without a doubt its my favorite movie of all time.
Before I close this out, I want to make note of a few movies that barely missed the cut:
- 28 Days Later (2002)
- Shame (2011)
- Eastern Promises (2007)
- Up in the Air (2009)
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
What are some of your favorite movies of the century? Let us know at @TheKWCBlog