The best 100 films of the 21st century, according to 177 film critics around the world

There will be arguments.
There will be arguments.
Image: Paramount Vantage
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Is David Lynch’s unsettling, hallucinatory meditation on Hollywood culture, Mulholland Drive (2001), really the best film of this century so far? According to 177 of the world’s foremost movie experts, yes. Yes it is.

BBC Culture surveyed film critics, academics, and curators from 36 countries across every continent (except Antarctica) to compile an international list of the top 100 films released since the year 2000.

Atop the list is Lynch’s surreal noir, followed by Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000), Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007, pictured above), and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001). Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014) rounds out the top five.

Almost half the critics were American, and two-thirds were men. They included representatives from established publications including the New Yorker, Variety, the Toronto Star, and Le Monde, as well as some from online sites such as Indiewire and Uproxx. Each critic ranked his or her top 10, and BBC ranked the movies by number of votes.

The top 100 films are in 20 different languages, but more than half (57) are in English. The next most common language was French, with 13 films. The best year of cinema so far this century was 2012, with 10 films.

Six directors tied for the most films on the list, with three each: Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, the Coen brothers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Michael Haneke, and Christopher Nolan. The Coen brothers are the only ones to have two films ranked in the top 20: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and No Country for Old Men (2007).

Virtually no live action comedies made the list (unless you count Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel or Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street) and only a handful of animated films made the cut, including Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and WALL-E.

Small and independent arthouse movies made a strong showing. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) is the only superhero film to make the list, and the only other big-budget action films to appear in the rankings are Inception (also from Nolan) and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

Even for movie buffs who have seen many of the films routinely listed on “best of” lists from the last century, this new list is likely to include some unfamiliar gems. Critics could only choose films made in the last 16 years, of course, so it’s unclear how many of these films will stand the test of time, and be remembered, say, fifty years from now.

Here are the top 100 films of the 21st century, according to the experts:

100. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
100. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)
100. Carlos (Olivier Assayas, 2010)
99. The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)
98. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002)
97. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
96. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)
95. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)
94. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
93. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)
92. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
91. The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella, 2009)
90. The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002)
89. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
88. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)
87. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
86. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)
85. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, 2009)
84. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
83. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)
82. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
81. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
80. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003)
79. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
78. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
77. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)
76. Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)
75. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
74. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012)
73. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
72. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013)
71. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012)
70. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)
69. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
68. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
67. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
66. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003)
65. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
64. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)
63. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
62. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
61. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)
60. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
59. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
58. Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembène, 2004)
57. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)
56. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, director; Ágnes Hranitzky, co-director, 2000)
55. Ida (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2013)
54. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
53. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)
52. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
51. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)
50. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015)
49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014)
48. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015)
47. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)
46. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
45. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
44. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
43. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
42. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)
41. Inside Out (Pete Docter, 2015)
40. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
39. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
38. City of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002)
37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
36. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014)
35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
34. Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015)
33. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
32. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
31. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
30. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
29. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
28. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)
27. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)
26. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
25. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

Now, if I had a ballot (I did not, perhaps for good reason), this would be my top 10:

10. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)
9. The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)
8. The Grey (Joe Carnahan, 2011)
7. Step Brothers (Adam McKay, 2008)
6. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
5. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
4. The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)
2. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000)
1. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)