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Top 20 Films of the 21st Century (so far)


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Yesterday I said



Empire are doing another of their readers' polls (following on from that 'one film per year for the last 30 years' one) - this one is your top 20 films of the 21st century so far.

I managed to come up with a list that covers a lot of bases, and while I'm not that bothered to see the results, it was a fun exercise figuring out what mine would be.



And @Devon Malcolm said



Might be a thread in that, @HarmonicGenerator. Be interested to compare* lists with people.




Here is that thread.

As I mentioned, I did figure out mine. Started off with a shortlist of around 60 films and whittled it down bit by bit. This is what I came up with *shelters from Devon's judgement*


1) Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

I've only picked one of the LOTRs and this is my favourite. A lot of my picks are based on my experience watching it in the cinema, and I can still vividly remember Boxing Day 2001, going to the pictures with my sister, parents and grandparents, and the awe of that shot when the Fellowship all come into view with the music soaring. I saw it again twice more and it's an unbeatable feeling.

2) Almost Famous

Came out in 2000 so just gets in there. I saw it a few years later, right at the time I was really getting into music. This film just crystallised that. 

3) Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Not a popular one on this forum if I remember correctly but it so accurately sums up the state of my life in my early 20s, and has so many lovely stylistic touches, I still love it. I only went with one Edgar Wright film on my list and this is it.

4) Boyhood

Linklater turns up twice, however - almost three times if 'Before Sunset' had made the final cut. I remember watching this in Dublin and coming out of the cinema feeling different and better about life. No other film before or since has captured that same feeling.

5) There Will Be Blood

It's monumental film-making. Daniel Plainview is one of the century's great characters - Paul Dano almost matches him. The final scene alone puts this on my list. Empire used it for their 'iconic scene' page at the back of the magazine once and I cut it out and had it on my wardrobe door for a good while. Drink this up.

6) The Dark Knight

Uh oh. This is on here because it's one of those films I can stick on and rewatch unlimited times and never get bored of it. I just like it OKAY?

7) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I had six Star Wars options for the 21st century, and it was going to have to be in there somewhere, so I went with the one that gave me the warmest and fuzziest feelings.

8 ) Avengers Assemble

Oh NO. I've only put one MCU film in my list. This was the one that felt really special at the time. It's been surpassed in terms of scale but is probably the last thing by Joss Whedon I unconditionally love before I got a bit sick of him and for how I remember it at the time, I'd put it above any of the other big Avengers films.

9) The Prestige

Two Nolans in the top 10, I'll never make it out of here alive. I bloody love The Prestige though. I remember when it came on Sky Premiere and I watched it four times in a week. BOWIE AS TESLA. Come on, people.

10) WALL-E

I also limited myself to one Pixar, because otherwise they'd be half my list. Up almost got in purely for the first ten minutes; Coco almost got in because I've never had such a strong emotional reaction to a film as I have those last ten minutes; Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo are virtually perfect to me; Toy Story 3 is Toy Story 3; Inside Out still guts me. So I could have very, very easily had 7 Pixars. But I haven't. WALL-E is the one that snuck in there because it's just so beautiful and lovely and pure.

11) The Artist

Couldn't watch it again now. Not at home, on a TV, on any other device. But at the local independent cinema, with its art deco interiors, this was sublime, wonderful stuff. Also the first film I ever recommended to my now-fiancee in an early attempt to engage her in conversation. It worked!

12) Mad Max Fury Road

Again, couldn't watch it now. Anything less than a massive IMAX screen doesn't do it justice. By far the best action movie of the century so far.

13) Avatar

Lol lol lol. But hey, in that cinema in December '09, in IMAX, in 3D, it really did feel like being transported to another world. Went back multiple times knowing it just wouldn't be as good any other way.

14) A Quiet Place

Once again, cinema experience, this time from everyone just being quiet. Nerve-shredding. Film snacks had to wait til after.

15) What We Do In The Shadows

Pretty much the only out-and-out comedy on my list ('Tropic Thunder' and 'Blades Of Glory', yes, I know, were also in contention) but this gets in there because we watch it every Halloween, and I needed something Taika Waititi on the list and this just, just beat out 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople'.

16) Gladiator

2000 again. Haven't seen it in ages but the soundtrack regularly pops up on my iPod and it just conjures images of majesty and spectacle and whatever the word for 'epicness' is.

17) Blackfish

A documentary! Anger. I have never felt such anger. FUCK SeaWorld. Fuck them. And fuck you if you've been there since Blackfish came out. 

18) School of Rock

Linklater again. So much fun at the time, still holds up on a rewatch. Good soundtrack as well.

19) True Grit

I've got up to 19 and the Coen Brothers haven't even been on here yet. I loved 'Inside Llewyn Davis' but I think this is my favourite. It's not staggeringly original or gamechanging or anything like that but it's a bloody good Western and it's got Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld is excellent and the music's great and it should have won more awards.

20) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

For a while there, 'Walk The Line' almost made the list despite not being that great a film, just because it's one of my go-to comfort watches. But then I remembered Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and couldn't not include it because it's brilliant.



So there's mine. Sorry. Judge all you like, but then also post your own lists please!

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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1) Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - It's actually been a brilliant decade for action films. So when I say that this is the best one of them all, and of the whole century, and the best film overall, I think that says a lot.

2) Blindspotting - The time was perfect for a film like this. It's the millennial Do the Right Thing. It's funny and heartbroken and a calling card from every main member of that cast and the director. An incredible piece of work.

3) Mission: Impossible - Fallout - Might take number one when I've seen it as much as Rogue Nation.

4) The Nice Guys - I'm not saying it's a great buddy film or anything, just that it's the greatest. Is that a shirt?

5) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - Imagine thinking it was JJ Abrams who revived this franchise. No, it was the guy directed Ratatouille actually.

6) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - I mean, I'm just as surprised as you are, frankly.

7) 24 Hour Party People - Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan have fiddled around with meta stuff like this a few times but they found the people, place and time to marry it to perfectly here.

8. Blade Runner 2049 - I was just relieved that Ridley Scott didn't get his hands on it initially but when the boy Denis picked it up I had genuine hopes this would be really quite good. It was much better.

9) No Country for Old Men - Fond memories of that time when some idiot on here reviewed Paul Blart and this in the same post, saying this was shit and Paul Blart was the funniest film of the year. Needless to say we never saw them again.

10) Punch-Drunk Love - This was my first PTA film and after his last three films have been complete dirges, I'd say he needs to go back to making stuff like this pretty fast.

11) Sicario - I still don't think my brain has recovered from that soundtrack being blasted into my ears from when I saw it at the cinema. The grimmest, most brilliant crime film of the decade and more.

12) Triangle - I think I successfully bullied dozens of people on here into watching this and with good reason. Accidentally or not, Christopher Smith made the best timeloop-y film ever.

13) John Wick: Chapter 3 - The sort of film that John Woo would have made if he was at his peak in 2019. That good and that deranged. That fucking knife scene.

14) A Separation - I'm new to Iranian cinema but Asghar Farhadi seemed to be pretty much the perfect gateway to it. He hasn't made anything below superb in his whole career and this is one of the greatest films I've ever seen. Devastating and perfectly acted.

15) Star Wars: The Last Jedi - God bless Rian Johnson. Don't fuck it up, Abrams, you twat.

16) Lost in Translation - One of those films where I can totally see why somebody would hate it. But it just clicked with me in every way.

17) Confessions - Unfairly lumped in with the fag end of the J-Horror craze, Confessions is almost impossible to define in terms of genre but is unsettling and surprising every step of the way. The opening 20 minute scene is absolutely amazing especially.

18) Us - Almost certainly the greatest American horror film of the century....

19) It Follows - ....this runs it close, though.

20) Logan Lucky - I am in-car-ce-ra-ted.

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@HarmonicGeneratorThat’s a decent list, good mix. It’s almost as if some of the best films from the last 19 years have involved superheroes? Huh, how about that?

Can someone link something that easily lists every film that has come out this century? If not, it’s really just going to be The Edge Of Seventeen at 1-20. 

Edited by SuperBacon
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1 hour ago, SuperBacon said:

@HarmonicGeneratorThat’s a decent list, good mix. It’s almost as if some of the best films from the last 19 years have involved superheroes? Huh, how about that?

Can someone link something that easily lists every film that has come out this century? If not, it’s really just going to be The Edge Of Seventeen at 1-20. 

I just used Wikipedia, 'Films released in [year]'. Most have a long list of wide-release films which jogged my memory quite well (a couple around 2004-2005 separate into 'American releases', 'British releases' etc).


1 hour ago, Devon Malcolm said:

2) Blindspotting - The time was perfect for a film like this. It's the millennial Do the Right Thing. It's funny and heartbroken and a calling card from every main member of that cast and the director. An incredible piece of work.

This was put on Netflix a little while ago and I finally got the chance to see it after missing its mega-limited cinema release. "The millenial Do The Right Thing" is exactly what I thought. I'm predisposed to like anything with Daveed Diggs in but he really was excellent, liked Janina Gavankar in it too. Superb film.

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My kooky list. And the order doesn't just go in quality, but other factors are included

1. Avengers - Endgame - Never had a cinema experience like it, which is why it is up here. And it managed to land even though it had to wrap up a story told in 21 films leading up to it. An incredible feat really. 

2 - Mission Impossible Rogue Nation - An absolute beut of an action film. Well paced, great sequences. Just a fantastic experience which I am gutted to have missed out on in IMAX

3 - Tron Legacy - I told you this list was kooky. So the story is all over the place. But I was obsessed with Tron as a kid and never thought a sequel would happen.It was also a very important part of my relationship with my Dad, so on an emotional level nothing comes close. The visuals and Daft Punk's soundtrack are amazing and it is one of those films that I can catch channel surfing and immediately get right into.

4 - Hot Fuzz - Shaun of the Dead maybe a better film, but Hot Fuzz is funnier, more quotable and has Timothy Dalton.

5 - Step Brothers - Another film I can watch over and over and still find funny.

6 - The Artist - Love a tribute to old cinema, and this was an absolute treat. I can't say it is one I have re-watched lots, but I think it's a great film. Which leads me to

7 - Hugo - Scorsese's love letter to early cinema, and his most underrated work in my opinion. Throw in some of the best 3D filming and you have got a piece of magic

8 - Star Wars - The Force Awakens - Is TLJ better? probably. And I know this is a tribute to ANH, but JJ Abrams bought Star Wars back from the brink of the prequels with this, and again, seeing this opening day in IMAX was one of those experiences I will never forget.

9 - Rocketman - This is how you do a biopic. Dexter Fletcher has been making a name for himself for a while, I am looking forward to his Sherlock 3. But this made Bohemian Rhapsody look like a channel 5 movie. Just a brilliantly made film, and Taraon egerton was fantastic in the lead role.

10 - Spiderman - Into the Spiderverse - On paper, this shouldn't have worked. Visually stunning, great story and the best Spider-man film ever.

11 - John Wick 3 -  The John Wick films are all great, but this just took it to another level. Love these films, love this world, and Keanu Reeves is just great isn't he.

12 - Mission Impossible - Fallout - Another fantastic entry into what has become a fantastic series

13 - Get Out - Jordon Peele's debut feature, and what a way to kick off your career. Great turns, suspensful and funny. 

14 - Edge of Tomorrow - I am looking like a Tom Cruise fanboy, but this was an unexpected gem and holds up to (die, live) repeat viewings.

15 - A Quiet Place - speaking of crack debut's, this one is another great tense film, and was so eerie to be in the cinema to watch this because of how quiet the film is

16 - Guardians of the Galaxy - a comic book hardly anyone knew of, became one of Marvel's best loved films. Cracking soundtrack, funny and exciting. Shame it made Chris Pratt become so one dimensional however.

17 - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri - Knew nothing about it before seeing it, and it blew me away. Was cruelly overshadowed by The Shape of Water which I didn't think was as good. 

19 - Toy Story 3 - Rare that the best film in the series is also the 3rd entry. Just fantastic

20 - Whiplash - Another film I had no idea about before watching. JK Simmons is fantastic. No film about drumming should be this good

Edited by Hannibal Scorch
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1) There Will Be Blood - Purely on views alone this tops the list. In lesser hands this film could have easily been a bit of dull disaster, and during filming it very nearly ran away from everyone with all manner of stories about late casting changes, Daniel Day-Lewis having a hard time etc. However the struggle brought us Paul Thomas Anderson's last truly great film and my favourite Daniel Day Lewis performance.
There are no likeable characters and some may argue the plot is a little thin, but it rumbles along with menace - this in no small part helped by Jonny Greenwood's best work since OK Computer.

2) Under The Skin - Again, I've watched this a silly amount of times. Incredible visuals and a score that is equal parts jarring and seductive.

3) You Were Never Really Here - I don't think a film has ever quite battered me like YWNRH. I cried, I was horrified, I was in awe. I was scared to go back and watch it, not because of fear it wouldn't live up to the first viewing, but I didn't want to get mauled again. More Greenwood.

4) The Red Turtle - Who would guess a cartoon with no dialogue would end up being the most profound existential cinematic experience over the past 20 years? Here we are.

5) Blade Runner 2049 - Devon summed it up nicely. Stunning with a massive sigh of relief.

6) Paddington 2 - Both films could have made the list. Just a great time; you're a right boring git if you don't come out of this in a great mood.

7) Sicario - The most tense finale in modern cinema? Up there, innit.

8 ) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation - One of Tom's finest haircuts takes third place to the Cavill tash and some mind-blowing action. Let that sit with you.

9) Rocketman - A bloody good time. The songs are great and the musical parts are so brilliantly creative.

10) The Irishman - Only watched it a few days ago, but 3 and a half hours and I was up for watching it again immediately after. 'Nuff typed.

11) John Wick 3 - I've never quite experienced in the cinema the collective giddy rush of that knives scene.

12) Lost In Translation - Endlessly watchable.

13) After The Storm - I took a punt on this one boring Sunday afternoon. What a lovely surprise.

14) No Country For Old Men - The 2nd best film released that year.

15) Captain Phillips - I very nearly fell asleep during the trailers, but the finale is such a rush that I was wide awake. Plus, HANKS.

16) Hell Or High Water - There is a certain charm to the whole thing and the pacing is masterful.

17) 24 Hour Party People - Coogan's best film by quite a distance. It never fails to make me laugh.

18) The Wrestler - Probably would have placed higher is the Hulkster got the gig, brother.

19) Logan - One of two acceptable superhero films for such a list. I found this to be very moving.

20) Milk - Sean Penn is a cunt, but the talented arse had me crying for him again.

The top 8 is pretty steady, but anything outwith can easily be swapped about.


Edited by ColinBollocks
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19 hours ago, Hannibal Scorch said:

Ffs how did I forget Paddington 2? Still glad someone shares my love of Rocketman 

With next day eyes I definitely ranked Rocketman too high. However, it's still one great movie. The scene in the Troubadour where he starts floating during Crocodile Rock is just perfect cinema.

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