The 100 Greatest Films Of The 21st Century (According To Critics)
— Updated on 27 September 2022

The 100 Greatest Films Of The 21st Century (According To Critics)

— Updated on 27 September 2022
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

It’s easy to think modern cinema offers nothing more than remakes, reboots, needless prequels/sequels, and uninspired superhero flicks these days. The entire idea surrounding cinema’s supposed “death”, however, isn’t exactly a new cultural phenomenon. But throughout history, there have always been stories worth experiencing in spite of the bullshit. And as you’ll (re)discover thanks to the BBC’s 100 greatest films of the 21st century list, the past two decades has delivered the insanely-rewatchable goods that’ll likely stand the test of time.

For this undertaking, the BBC surveyed a whopping total of 177 critics from “every continent except Antarctica.” Ranging from traditional print reviewers who make a buck writing for newspapers or magazines, the digital nomad who posts directly to websites like yours truly, relevant academics, and curators alike… suffice it to say the deliberation process was both comprehensive and extensive. The cut-off point for eligible films was simply anything that was released after December 31st of 1999.

“If you can’t find masterpieces amid the blockbuster flotsam, you simply aren’t looking hard enough. Film-making today – whether massively expensive or made with tiny budgets, shot on celluloid or video – is thriving artistically as much as it ever has,” explains the BBC.

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“You’ll find greater diversity in the kinds of films being made, if not in the people who are making them… We wanted to prove that this century has given us films that will stand the test of time, that you will continue to think about and argue about if only you give them a chance and watch them.”

“We believe that the new classics on this list are destined to become old classics. Whether or not that happens is ultimately up to you, the moviegoers. But one thing is certain: cinema isn’t dying, it’s evolving.”

It’s worth noting this list was originally compiled in 2016. So there’s going to be some glaring omissions like Good Times by the Safdie Brothers, Call Me By Your Name by Luca Guadagnino, Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve, Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers, and so forth.

#1. Mulholland Drive (2001) dir. by David Lynch

Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux
Rating: IMDb – 7.9/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 84%

#2. In The Mood For Love (2001) dir. by Wong Kar-wai

Starring: Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung
Rating: IMDb – 8.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 91%

#3. There Will Be Blood (2007) dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O’Connor
Rating: IMDb – 8.2.10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 91%

#4. Spirited Away (2001) dir. Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki
Rating: IMDb – 8.6/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 97%

#5. Boyhood (2014) dir. Richard Linklater

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Rating: IMDb – 7.9/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 97%

RELATED: Quentin Tarantino Calls ‘The Social Network’ Best Film Of Last Decade

#6. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) dir. by Michel Gondry

Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet
Rating: IMDb – 8.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 92%

#7. The Tree Of Life (2011) dir. by Terrence Malick

Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
Rating: IMDb – 6.8/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 84%

#8. Yi Yi (2000) dir by Edward Yang

Starring: Wu Nien-jen, Elaine Jin
Rating: IMDb – 8.2/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 97%

#9. A Separation (2011) dir. by Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Keila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi
Rating: IMDb – 8.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 99%

#10. No Country For Old Men (2007) dir. Joel & Ethan Cohen

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
Rating: IMDb – 8.3/10 | Rotten Tomatoes – 93%

Check out the BBC’s greatest films of the 21st century list in full below.

BBC’s 100 Greatest Films Of The 21st Century

  1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
  2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)
  3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
  5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
  6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
  7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
  8. Yi Yi: A One & A Two (Edward Yang)
  9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
  10. No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen)
  11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel & Ethan Coen)
  12. Zodiac (David Fincher)
  13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
  14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
  15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
  16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
  17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)
  18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
  19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
  20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
  21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
  22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  23. Caché (Michael Haneke)
  24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  25. Memento (Christopher Nolan)
  26. 25th Hour (Spike Lee)
  27. The Social Network (David Fincher)
  28. Talk To Her (Pedro Almodóvar)
  29. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton)
  30. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook)
  31. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
  32. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
  33. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
  34. Son of Saul (László Nemes)
  35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
  36. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)
  37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
  38. City of God (Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund)
  39. The New World (Terrence Malick)
  40. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
  41. Inside Out (Pete Docter)
  42. Amour (Michael Haneke)
  43. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
  44. 12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen)
  45. Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Abdellatif Kechiche)
  46. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
  47. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
  48. Brooklyn (John Crowley)
  49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
  50. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
  51. Inception (Christopher Nolan)
  52. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
  53. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann)
  54. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
  55. Ida (Paweł Pawlikowski, Ágnes Hranitzky)
  56. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr)
  57. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
  58. Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembène)
  59. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
  60. Syndromes & A Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
  61. Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer)
  62. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
  63. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky)
  64. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino)
  65. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)
  66. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… & Spring (Kim Ki-duk)
  67. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
  68. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
  69. Carol (Todd Haynes)
  70. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
  71. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
  72. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
  73. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
  74. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
  75. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  76. Dogville (Lars von Trier)
  77. The Diving Bell & the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel)
  78. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
  79. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
  80. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
  81. Shame (Steve McQueen)
  82. A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen)
  83. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
  84. Her (Spike Jonze)
  85. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)
  86. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)
  87. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
  88. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)
  89. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
  90. The Pianist (Roman Polanski)
  91. The Secret In Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella)
  92. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)
  93. Ratatouille (Brad Bird)
  94. Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson)
  95. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  96. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
  97. White Material (Claire Denis)
  98. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami)
  99. The Gleaners & I (Agnès Varda)
  100. Carlos (Olivier Assayas); Requiem For A Dream (Darren Aronofsky); Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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