The BBC’s Greatest 21st Century Films

About a month ago, I heard about the BBC polling 177 critics on their Top 10 Best Films of the Century thus far and putting all their results together to craft a 100 Best Movies of the 21st Century. The list has no been revealed on their site. And now I’m taking a lookseeatit and giving some of my remarks (though I won’t actually be copying and pasting the list here. You can check on that link).

The amount of movies on the list that I haven’t seen is pretty much two.

  • Toni Erdmann (obviously!) – no. 100
  • Son of Saul – no. 34

Which on one hand means I am almost entirely familiar with what they’ve selected to react upon, but on the other disappoints me because I really was hoping this list would introduce titles to me rather than tell how good so-and-so movie I already saw is. For the most part, that’s fine if somewhat a nuisance since I actually really like a good amount of the list, including the number one winner Mulholland Dr. which I’d call an essential watch. The unfortunate thing is that when it gets to movies I don’t care for (like no. 17 – The White Ribbon) or don’t like (no. 20 – Synecdoche, New York) and tries to sell me on their profundity it becomes quite exhausting. But that’ll always be the way you are when people are praising art you don’t care for, no matter how open we are to other perspectives.

I also find it extremely alarming that we have a dearth of animated films represented. There is a whopping total of… 5. Just five animated films. Four of which are Pixar films (no. 96 – Finding Nemo; no. 93 – Ratatouille; no. 41 – Inside Out; no. 29 – WALL-E) and the odd man out is a Ghibli film (no. 4 – Spirited Away). No Laika, no Chomet, no Hertzfeldt, no Kon, among other things (I’d lament the absence of Disney but nobody wants to be Frozen‘s champion except me). It both paints a disinterest in animation as an artform as well as a complete monopoly to the international animation market as well.

In the meantime, despite a hella lot of popular fare, especially Oscar nominees (The Film Experience marked down all the ones that were nominated for Picture, Director, Foreign-Language, Animated or Documentary. By the way, I co-sign on a lot of Nathaniel’s thoughts.), The Lord of the Rings is nowhere to be seen. Which doesn’t disappoint me (if anything it pleases me), but it’s a huge surprise nevertheless. Something that I could honestly have seen going either way is Oldboy (no. 30), The Dark Knight (no. 33), and A History of Violence (no. 55) being the only comic book movies featured on the list (and while we’re at it, Christopher Nolan tie-ing for most featured director – alongside Weerasethakul, the Coens, and Wes Anderson and above Malick, Kiarostami, Tarr, Linklater, and McQueen – it doesn’t bug me in the slightest but I can’t help feeling it is unearned. He is undoubtedly the most populist filmmaker on the list save for Spielberg, though Spielberg features possibly his least populist picture – A.I. Artificial Intelligence no. 83).

The absence of Gravity is flat-out jawdropping (the only Alfonso Cuaron film is Children of Men at 13 which, to be fair, is his best imo). Experiential cinema at its most potent and it’s completely abandoned. That and This Is Not a Film and Taxi (both also absent by Jafar Panahi) hit me as movies very much grounded in the attitude and feel of the century, maps of what can be done with film today. In addition, not a hint of Guy Maddin anywhere and that is very troubling to me.

There’s a much more reasonable number of Black and Female directors and Queer Cinema represented here (though they’re still in the extreme minority to say nothing of other non-white filmmakers or non-Western films). It’s overall a pretty varied list.

Spring Breakers (74) and Dogville (76) can fuck right off, though. And I’m very disappointed in seeing that of all the Scorsese pictures they could have picked, they went with The Wolf of Wall Street (78) in all its completely unfinished manner and not Hugo, which is completely gone. Save for Synecdoche, New York, those are the only ones I don’t like, though there is absolutely a lot I don’t care for to the point that I’d respond to the film’s addition with “… really?” Brooklyn (48), Memento (25), 25th Hour (26), and The Pianist (90) namely. But at least there’s no Whiplash.

Anyway, that’s enough bitching about other peoples’ opinions I will simply close out with this: a friend of mine – I won’t be that name-dropping guy who says who – was one of the critics who submit a list for this poll. Obviously, I’m not a big enough critic to be polled for this, but a lot of unpolled critics in the same circle as him and I began to make our own top ten ballot for the decade and I decided to craft my own as well. So here is mine enclosed so everybody can make fun of my tastes.

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1 – In the Mood for Love (2000/dir. Wong Kar-wai/Hong Kong) – Number 2 on the BBC list
Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung make heartbreak look so hotness.

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2 – Moolaade (2004/dir. Ousmane Sembene/Senegal) – Number 58 on the BBC list
A movie portraying all the weaknesses of humanity and all of its strengths as well. I also think African cinema just needs to get more of its due, there’s a rich amount of African filmmakers that turn it up (Abderrahmane Sissako is another filmmaker I am so happy to see on the BBC list).

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3 – Inland Empire (2006/dir. David Lynch/USA) – Not on the BBC list
My resident Lynch choice instead of Mulholland Dr. – though I’m very happy to see it up there – because it feels like the Lynchiest Lynch film ever. Nightmares, women in peril, moviemaking broken down into an incoherent atmosphere, Laura Dern. It has all his ingredients in a 3-hour surrealist experiment.

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4 – The Eagleman Stag (2011/dir. Mickey Please/UK) – Not on the BBC list
Not a single short film on the BBC list either and I mean, that’s expected. Nevertheless the way this short portrays a perspective towards time passing that literally arrests me with fear… I can’t shake it off.

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5 – The Tree of Life (2011/dir. Terrence Malick/USA) – Number 7 on the BBC list
It’s gonna sound like the most pretentious thing to claim that this is the most experiential of all of Malick’s films. But as far as I’m concerned, it is.

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6 – Goodbye to Language (2014/dir. Jean-Luc Godard/France and Switzerland) – Number 49 on the BBC list
Speaking of pretentious. But fuck you, it’s more fun than any other 3D movie you can ever name.

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7 – Yi Yi (2000/dir. Edward Yang/Taiwan) – Number 8 on the BBC list
Them colors and shapes tho.

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8 – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015/dir. George Miller/Australia and USA) – Number 19 on the BBC list
No. No, I think I’m done talking about Mad Max: Fury Road for the rest of my life. If somebody tries to even dispute that it’s one of the greatest things to ever happen to film, I’ll simply shoot him like the dog he is.

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9 – Moulin Rouge! (2001/dir. Baz Luhrmann/Australia and USA) – Number 53 on the BBC list
What’s so funny about a whole lotta spectacle and a whole lotta music?

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10 – The Act of Killing/The Look of Silence (2012-14/dir. Joshua Oppenheimer/Denmark, Norway, and UK)  Killing is number 14 on the BBC list, Silence is not on it.
The first uses cinema as a loaded weapon against history, injustice, and honestly movies themselves. It’s definitely a much more adequate indictment towards violence and the influence of cinema than anything Haneke made. The second simply does its due in recognizing that there’s real-life victims to what was portrayed in Killing and that it’s not just a fucking game. It’s practically Killing‘s antithesis.

And there we are. I also almost put Grindhouse in my ten and THAT’s definitely why BBC ain’t hitting me up.

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