World cinema has witnessed an array of amazing movies from around the globe as we are reaching a quarter way into the 21st century. And if you’re a movie buff, which you probably are, (why else would you be reading this?) you will know that sorting out the best of the best from a never-ending list that keeps on growing by the hour is a task of herculean proportions. That’s why we have decided to put in the work for you and come up with a list of the Top 10 most influential movies of the 21st century. So grab your popcorn and turn your binge mode on.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007
“There will be blood’ is a movie that has defined and defied the norms of modernity in 21st-century world cinema.
The movie is uncompromising, dark, dangerously thrilling, drastically distinctive, and has a strong visionary passion to it. What makes the movie stand out is the very fact that it is epic and utterly unconventional at the same time. From the choice of frames and bold close-ups to the sheer conviction of sticking to the tone of the movie throughout, Paul Thomas Anderson has done a brilliant job. The movie speaks of oil’s history and economic standpoints and the force it places on men to gravitate towards greed and our abusive and toxic history with natural resources.
It is a movie that will prove to be a benchmark against which all directors, and all moviegoers, will want to measure themselves and you can hardly ask for more than that.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 2002
If you’re an anime fan you will love spirited away, if you’re not you’ll still absolutely fall in love with it. What sets Miyazaki apart from all the other animators around the world is the fact that he genuinely tries to quiet things down a little instead of bombarding the viewer with noises and distractions trying to grab hold of their attention. He said that he made the movie specifically for 10-year old girls and I believe that is why the movie connects so powerfully to its adult viewers around the globe.
Movies made for everyone caters to none. Whereas, Spirited away is a journey with a 10-year-old sen and stays brutally honest to her perspective while making no attempt to cater to us and thus is spellbindingly engaging.
Directed by Steve Mcqueen,2013
Twelve years a slave is a movie that stretches far beyond a 12-year timeline and embodies a side of humanity that we chose not to look at. It is shocking, thought-provoking, educational, and gripping at the same time, it deals with slavery, racism, punishment, solitude, and helplessness. This movie is one that is not for the faint-hearted and will make you embarrassed of humanity almost throughout the movie. The director intentionally drew out the scenes to emphasize the vulgarness and injustice in them and it’s safe to say that he did an amazing job at that. The movie also portrays the power of will and faith through the character graphs that will stay with you forever.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, 2004
“An old master’s new masterpiece” is how the NY Times described Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby when it came out in 2004 and I think they couldn’t have described it better.
The movie tells the story of a fight trainer who is out of his prime and a hillbilly girl from southwest Missouri who thinks she can be a boxer. Now don’t start thinking that it’s a boxing movie, even though it has all the ingredients to be an out-and-out boxing mania movie it chooses to be a movie about a boxer that’s deep, pure, simple, and true. Morgan Freeman, who plays Scrap, is the narrator in the movie and resembles the tone of a freeman from “The Shawshank Redemption”. He never rushed through or tried to add in effects, he simply described the life of the other two characters in a calm and simple demeanor. The film also gives him a life of his own when the other two are offscreen. It’s a movie made of three people and how their actions grow out of who they are and why. Nothing else. But that’s the beauty of it.
Directed by Richard Linklater, 2014
Boyhood is Richard Linklater’s take on the life of a boy through a time-lapse study of Mason, who we see growing up from around the age of five when he’s in primary school to the age of 18 till his first day of college. Boyhood deals with a simple and universal fact: that life is terrifyingly short. When we are young and free we seem to have all the time in the world and at the same time to our parents, it flashes past in an instant. The film beautifully portrays the transition of a boy into a man and his realization that as he grows up, so do his parents and the world around him. Boyhood is so ambitious and novel that the genre now looks to be obsolete.
A Touch of Sin
Directed by Jia Zhangke, 2013
Jia zhangke’s “ A touch of skin” is a brilliant piece of work steeped in violence and sorrow. The movie was inspired by a series of widely reported violent conflicts in China which haunted Jia Zhangke. The four stories track a furious miner who goes on a rampage against a company head, a migrant worker who returns home for his mom’s 70th birthday, a young kid from the provinces who can only find work in an exploitative factory or a brothel, and a massage parlor receptionist. If you’re not fainthearted and have the stomach for it, “A Touch of Sin” is a stunning travelogue of cruelty and vengeance. The film provides a glimpse of China today that will put you at the edge of your seats even if you’re not a fan of the anthology-like narrative.
Directed by Peter Doctor and Ronnie del Carmen, 2015
Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen’s “Inside out” is like some of the really good animated movies we’ve seen in the past, this one quite literally has a cerebral angle (pun intended in this case!), so to speak. As we move through the story dressed up in colorful and wildly imaginative patterns which might look childish at first glance gradually takes a deeper turn into the fundamental blocks of emotions that make up a person. Riley’s memories are represented by cool-coded orbs which have different colors according to the emotion within the memory. With emotions literally personified the story is filled with twists and turns and will take you through the whole spectrum of emotions.
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, 2009
“The hurt locker” Was a cinematic and political milestone when Kathryn Bigelow made history when she became the first woman to win the Oscar for best director. It was about time a talented female director was recognized for her art by a mainly male-dominated industry that still remains resistant to equality. It is also ironic that she was honored for a war movie where women are generally physically absent. The film explores masculinity, enigmas, and the staggering and pathological annihilating capacity of war and violence. The film is set in and around the time period of the Iraq war after the American invasion as the story tracks the life and struggles of three members of an army bomb defuse squad that disarms roadside bombs.
Directed by Olivier Assayas, 2009
Oliver Assayas is the type of director that likes to take the audience on a sweet daydreaming trance but is also a sharp and shrewd storyteller. The movie “Summer hours” takes off on a birthday party for a 70-year-old woman who is among her family which includes three of her adult children. Olivier then suddenly plunges into complex and rough relations that are thorny, to say the least, probably because mothers are great triggers. And provided moments for the audience to introspect which we can’t help but do. On top of that, the film draws us in with its impeccable beauty and scenes, everything from the people, homes, furniture, gardens, and there’s something French about everything. It’s a movie about life, death, and evanescence, but also about being French.
Directed by Cristi Puiu, 2006
The title of the movie is a spoiler but not exactly one you’d expect it to be. The movie “The death of Mr.lazarescu” follows the path of Mr. Dante lazarescu, an old retired Bucharest resident who is in his early 60’s. As we see him for the first time he is complaining about his stomach pains and around two and a half hours later he passes away, unmourned and unnoticed.
The seemingly flat plots have everything in it to keep our eyes glued to the screen till the title cards. The beauty of the movie is that it conveys the great truth that for most of us, death is not going to be a single flatline moment, but instead a gradual, unsoothing process of deterioration. But the process is heroic, and Mr. Lazarescu, even though he has so little to say, has the mute rhetoric of a hero