NYT ranks 25 best movies of this century

Well, the 21st century is only 17-some years old, but the New York Times has already named the 25 best movies put out in this century.  Sadly, I’ve seen only two of them—”There Will Be Blood” and “The Hurt Locker”—both very good), which reflects my reduced moviegoing over the past few years. (Traveling has cut into it.)

I’ll list just the Times‘s top ten, but there are two that I find conspicuously missing: “Spotlight” and “Never Let Me Go”. The first is good by anybody’s lights, the second a personal favorite that may not appeal to many (it’s based on an Ishiguro novel and gets only a 71% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes). At any rate, the NYT list, which has longish descriptions of each film, is a good guide for what you might want to see next on Netflix.

  1. There Will Be Blood
  2. Spirited Away
  3. Million Dollar Baby
  4. A Touch of Sin
  5. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
  6. Yi Yi
  7. Inside Out
  8. Boyhood
  9. Summer Hours
  10. The Hurt Locker

The surprise for me is #2, a Miyazaki animation from Studio Ghibli. I’ve seen only one Ghibli movie, “My Neighbor Totoro”, which I loved and think everyone should watch. Grania put me onto that one, and also recommends that I see “Princess Mononoke,” which I will.  Just two days ago, the Times also ranked “all the films of studio Ghibli“; there are 22, and the top three, in order, are “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” Here’s the description of “Spirited Away” from the first list:

Spirited Away,” by the Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki, follows the enthralling and terrifying adventures of a young girl named Chihiro. The film’s artistry and magic defy description, but we asked Guillermo del Toro, a Miyazaki fan and a formidable movie magician in his own right, to share his thoughts. He spoke by phone with A.O. Scott. Here are edited excerpts from his comments:

Guillermo del Toro discusses his love of Hayao Miyazaki movies. Del Toro is the director of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the coming “The Shape of Water.”
Guillermo del ToroI discovered Miyazaki when I was a kid in Mexico. I remember seeing a sequence Miyazaki and [his colleague Otsuka Yasuo] did on a movie called “Puss in Boots” of an ogre running through a series of rocks, a typical Miyazaki chase in a crumbling tower, and I remember loving that movie.

Many years later as a young adult I saw “My Neighbor Totoro” and it moved me to tears. I mean, I basically couldn’t stop crying at the beauty and the enormous feat of capturing the innocence of being a child. I immediately chased down everything he had done. The way they describe him as the Disney of the East I think is a tremendous misnomer: Miyazaki’s all his own.

In “Spirited Away” you have a girl right at the threshold of becoming a young woman and leaving her childhood behind, figuratively and literally. Chihiro starts the narrative as a child, the way she sits, the way we first meet her sitting on the seat of the car, legs up, it’s completely childish. She evolves from her poise, dress, attitude, emotion and spirituality from being a child to being a young woman and coming into her own, and in that position she has to go through the loss of everything. She loses her parents, she loses her name, she’s called nothing, she’s called Sen, she’s called zero. There’s a beautiful, very melancholic meditation – the same melancholy that permeates all Miyazaki’s films.

Miyazaki has an approach to making monsters that is unique. They are completely new in design, but they feel rooted in ancient lore. They seem to represent primal forces and, in many cases, spirits that are rooted to the earth, to the wind, to the water. They are very elemental.

He always looks for grace or power, and he can use power for good guys and bad guys equally, and he can use grace for destructive monsters or beneficial monsters. That’s the beauty of him. He understands that one of the essential things is to not seek anything good because by definition something will then become bad. Do not seek anything beautiful because by definition something then becomes ugly.

Of course I have a huge kinship with Miyazaki. The same sense of loss and melancholy and tragedy is what I tried to do in “Devil’s Backbone” or “Pan’s Labyrinth.” There is a moment in which beauty moves you in a way that is impossible to describe. It’s not that it’s a fabrication, it’s that it’s an artistic act and you know nothing you will encounter in the natural world will be that pure. Miyazaki has that power.

I’m sure there are some Studio Ghibli addicts out there, so weigh in.

Meanwhile, here’s the Catbus from “My Neighbor Totoro”:

94 Comments

  1. withak30
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Spirited Away is great, definitely watch it if you liked Totoro.

  2. Christopher
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    So many Miyazaki films to mention – along with those you list above, Howl’s Moving Castle is also worth watching.

    But I’d agree, Spirited Away is truly a triumph of imagination, weaving in superb characters, colours and ideas in with Greek Tragedy. Superlative work that stands stoically apart from the sometimes simplistic, twee and sickly output from Disney.

  3. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Inside Out? Really? I wouldn’t even put that on the list for 2015.

  4. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Inside Out? Really? I wouldn’t even put that on the list for 2015.

    • pck
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Very much agreed, second tier Pixar at best.

    • Dan
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      It probably got in for its heavy-handed preachiness. It is indeed mediocre at best. If I’d put a Disney/Pixar Movie there, it would be “Up”.

    • Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Seriously? It’s a great movie.

  5. jose
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely stop what you’re doing and go watch spirited away right now.

    Princess Mononoke is also fantastic but less tight than Spirited Away. To some it might feel somewhat long winded. Still memorable.

  6. Craw
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Gosford Park

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I thought Gosford Park was glaring in its absence as well. Altman’s last great movie. (I liked his last two films, too, The Company and Prairie Home Companion, but they don’t rank near the top of his oeuvre, the way Gosford does.)

  7. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Spirited Away is my favorite Miyazaki movie- wonderful. But also check out two movies by the studio’s co-founder, Isao Takahata. “Grave of the Fireflies” may be the most heartbreaking movie ever, and will dispel any preconceptions that animation is just for kids. But for my money, there has never been an animated feature as breathtakingly beautiful, acutely observed, or artistically masterful as “the tale of the princess kaguya”- every bit as emotionally rich as “ikiru” which is one of my (and one of prof CC’s I believe) favorite films of all time. I am an animator, and in general don’t care for anime, but these two artists are in a league of their own.

  8. Luke Hatton
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi PCC,

    I’ve been a Miyazaki and Ghibli fan since 1991, when Channel 4 broadcast ‘Laputa: Castle In The Sky’ on English TV. I was 11 years old at the time, and I can say it had a profound impact on me, not only as a film viewer, but also on my perception on animation, or anime. And world cinema as a whole.

    I can concur that the films you mention are superb and worthy of watching for anyone with any interest in cinema. ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, ‘Princess Mononoke’, ‘Spirited Away’ are all outstanding. However, I will also add that the Studio Ghibli catalogue is probably the most consistent of any film studio working today, and any one of their films are worthy of your time. Look them up!

    Studio Ghibli formed in 1984 as a collaboration between two directors, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki.

    Not to take any of the glory from Miyazaki, who is a brilliant director and animator, but I would also like to add that Takahata is Miya-san’s equal. ’Grave Of The Fireflies’, ‘Only Yesterday’, and ‘The Tale Of Princess Kaguya’ are some of the most superb films released by any film studio. Takahata has been described as the anime equivalent of Ozu.

    Best regards,
    Luke Hatton

    • bbenzon
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes, ‘Grave of the fireflies’ is one of the most heartbreaking, and beautiful, films ever made. It’s about the firebombing og Kobe at the end of WWII and follows two children as the struggle (and ultimately fail) to survive in the aftermath.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Takahata’s films are wonderful, too.

  9. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait for Geth to see “There Will Be Blood” on the list; he hated it 😂

  10. yazikus
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Having been to the movie theatre only twice this century, I’m not really qualified to comment. I did love Spirited Away, however.

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    THIS _century_ … uh-huh … I see what you did there, NYT…

    that list is … what’s the word… peculiar? Lord Of The Rings was in the Naughties so it doesn’t count?

    I think this is a sign I’m getting old….

    • marvol19
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      LotR was not the naughties IIRC – 2001,2002 and 2003,right?

  12. KD33
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I have a daughter who is now 17, and feel fortunate that I got to see most of Miyazaki’s brilliant creations. You have a lot to look forward to. It’s almost impossible to describe these to someone who’s never seen them before – Disney or Pixar just don’t provide a good reference point. Some faves are Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind, and Princess Mononoke. Many feature have cats (can’t remember them all, but Kiki’s Delivery Service has them…)

    Tip: wear a Miyazaki T-shirt and you’ll get lots of comments (nice ones) from 20-somethings. Ask “what’s your favorite” and plan for a 10 minute conversation. (I have a Totoro + a “Miyazaki club”, and they never fail.)

    • bbenzon
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ has a very strong role for a cat. Can’t remember cats, other than the catbus in ‘Totoro’, in any of the other features. There’s a d-g in ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, all kinds of aquatic animals in ‘Ponyo’, but I can’t think of any other cats off hand.

  13. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Spirited Away is fantastic.

    My 12 year old niece and I recently culturally appropriated the shit out of Studio Gibli while I was babysitting.

    She’s obsessed with all things Japanese right now: manga, anime, music, food, fashion. If she’s still interested in a year or so I’ll see if I can interest her in Kurasawa or Miike.

    • Darren Garrison
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      You should try showing her stuff by Katsuhito Ishii, espeically Cha no Aji/The Taste of Tea and Naisu no Mori/Funky Forest. Both really weird, quirky, charming movies that will have you wondering “WTF am I watching” the whole time, but still (hopefully) loving it. Naisu no Mori is sort of an answer to Kurosawa’s Yume/Dreams and is on YouTube:

    • Tim Harris
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      Your niece might like 君の名 (‘Kimi no na’) – ‘Your Name’ in English.

  14. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    My first Ghibli movie was Spirited Away, and it blew me away. Guillermo del Toro has insights that really brought it all back for me. It is still my favorite from that studio, although I very much enjoyed all of those movies that I had seen. A treasure to be watched several times, imo.
    Surprised to see Inside Out up there, but sure. It is a terrific movie. Like many Pixar movies you will need a hankie.

    As long as I am thinking of animated movies — the Iron Giant. Hankie also required.

    • Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Inside Out is no WALL*E. And it’s certainly no Up, the first 10 minutes of which would reduce Hannibal Lector to a blubbering mass of tears and tissues.

      • Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        The first 10 minutes of UP are amazing. But I don’t recall thinking the rest of the movie as being terrific. But Inside Out maintained a level of delight (to me).

    • Adam M.
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I loved The Iron Giant too. It was my first exposure to an animated film that wasn’t full of singing, and where the characters had some depth.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        But do read the story it is supposedly based on, ‘The Iron Man’ by Ted Hughes. The film, I’m afraid, is a travesty of it, and trivialises Hughes’s story.

  15. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Hayao Miyazaki for Studio Gibli …

    “The Wind Rises” is the very best animated film I have ever seen. It is reality-based, with the flights of the fantastic clearly the imagination of the protagonist at work.

    You have to accept the premise of the hero being the designer of the war plane used to kill Americans in WW2, and look out though the eyes of a striver, achiever, and wonderful person.

    But the story of a dream realized through adversity and with persistance — plus a beautiful love story — takes the prize.

  16. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Incidentally, while Million Dollar Baby is a good movie it would barely make my top 10 Clint Eastwood films of this century.

    Gran Torino is the best he has made since Unforgiven. Changeling, his WWII diptych and J Edgar are also better.

    • revelator60
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Eastwood is a good, not great director. I’m puzzled why critics have so persistently overrated him.

  17. Blue
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    … … a little gem from y2016, with
    smashing scenes and sounds outta Washington
    State ‘nd afore I ‘d had to toss my
    presidential vote away because o’my specific
    state’s Electoral College – bloodied
    crimsonality: … … Captain Fantastic.

    Now ? My second most favored film ! e v e r !

    Of near its beginning and of the Captain’s
    tongue himself, “There is no cavalry.
    No one will magically appear and
    save you in the end.”

    Blue

    • Blue
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      And I with grandkiddos ‘ve viewed
      “My Neighbor Totoro.” It is, indeed,
      a darling film and markedly recommended !

      Blue

  18. Randy schenck
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    At 12 bucks a pop I just don’t bother to make time for going to movies much. Unless I have a very good idea what it is or someone is dragging me I just don’t do it. Seen two movies more recently – Dunkirk and Victoria and Abdul. Both were non fiction but of the
    Hollywood variety. Both worth seeing but not on the best ever list.

    • Merilee
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Agreed that Dunkirk was pretty good. I like Tom Hardy in almost anthing, even though you could barely see him through his aviator goggles. Aside from our film festival we tend to wait for the dvds at the library, or netflix, because people are so loud and rude in the movie theaters these days. ( get off my lawn…)

  19. Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree with Jerry about Never Let Me Go movie. And Ishiguro deservedly won the Nobel Prize.

  20. Redlivingblue
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Can’t believe that 40 year old virgin made the list and The Dark Knight didn’t…

  21. Tom Czarny
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    There is a wonderful documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, filmed while Miyazaki was working on his latest (last? Who knows, he’s always retiring then unretiring), The Wind Rises. It’s a marvelous study of the man, the inner workings of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s relationships with his partner and long-time producer Toshio Suzuki and his love-hate relationship with Isao Takahada (Tale of the Princess Kaguya). There is also an additional piece staring Studio Ghibli’s resident cat and his impressions of goings-on.

  22. Rachel
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely love Spirited Away. It’s my favorite Miyazaki movie, one of my favorite movies, period.

  23. Adam M.
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    The other cofounder of Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata, had made some great movies too. His tend to be less fantastical, often telling the simple and sometimes tragic stories of people in the real world. I recommend the film that was released alongside My Neighbor Totoro, Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies), which tells the story of a boy and his sister in World War II. My wife’s favorite is Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday), which is simple but lovely.

    They may lack the mass appeal of Miyazaki’s films, but he’s even more of a perfectionist than Miyazaki, and he’s made some great cinema.

  24. Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I guess I am the odd person out. The only film on the NYT list that comes near being outstanding is A Touch of Sin. A couple of the others were good and worth seeing. I would never include animated films as Best. Here are my top thirteen films; I wonder how many people have seen them. Some I have seen three times because they are cosmically great classics,unrivalled in film history. I detested There Will Be Blood.

    1.Children of Paradise
    2.The Seventh Seal
    3.Jesus of Montreal
    4.Burnt by the Sun
    5. Lost and Beautiful

    Then come these:

    Il Sorpasso
    Ace in the Hole
    Annie Hall
    Faust (Jan Svenckmair)
    2001: A Space Odyssey
    The Man Who Would Be King
    Il Postino
    Missing
    Poetry

    • merilee
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Glad someone else loathed There Will be Blood…

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        I liked There Will BE Blood just fine, but of the PT Anderson oeuvre, I like Boogie Nights better. Of Anderson’s 21st century films, I thought Inherent Vice was funky and cool (but then I’m big fan of Pynchon’s novel).

        • Merilee
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

          Liked Boogie Nights a lot more than I expected to. Must look for Inherent Vice ( movie and book). I’ve read and liked other Pynchons but IV still waiting to be read.

  25. Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Error! Apologies! I included 20th century films. Of this century, A Touch of Sin, yes; also Poetry; Finding Neruda; Lost and Beautiful; In the Bedroom; Wendy and Lucy; Certified Copy; Triplets of Belleville; Celebration (not sure of date);The Lives of Others; A Footnote;

    • claudia baker
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      I hardly ever go to the movies or watch movies on T.V., but I did see ‘The Lives of Others’. Fantastic film. I did go to see ‘Amy’ twice though. I cried both times, as did most of the audience.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Loved Lives of Others and also Triplets of Belleville. Great fun.

        • bbenzon
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          Yes, “Triplets’ is wonderful.

  26. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Couple surprises for me: I thought Million Dollar Baby was a worthy and deserving effort (and I absolutely loved the F.X. Toole collection of short stories it was based on, Rope Burns). But I thought Clint’s effort the year before, Mystic River, was even better, with outstanding performances from the leads, especially Tim Robbins and Marcia Gay Harden.

    Similarly, I loved Inside Llewyn Davis, but if I had to pick just one of the Coens’ post-2000 flicks for my list, it would be No Country for Old Men.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      No Country would be up there as one of the best of this century, I agree there. A History Of Violence is fantastic too, and Atonement…

      To be honest I’m struggling to think of films that jump out at me. I think in this century television, long-form drama specifically, has begun to edge past cinema in quality.

      I could probably go and check a list of films from the last 17 years and make a top 10 of the best ones, but no films spring to mind like The Sopranos does, or Breaking Bad, or Twin Peaks: The Return. Or Mad Men, or The Slap or plenty of other series.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        Loved the Aussie version of The Slap. The US one was OK. I must be the only person not blown away by No Country, despite loving most of the actors and Cormac McCarthy. I found it plodding. With you on great TV like Breaking Bad and The Wire. Ray Donovan and Fargo ( the series) pretty good, too.
        Speaking of Javier Bardem ( No Country), one movie we saw at the Festival which should be avoided like the proverbial PLAGUE(!!!- enough !s?) is Darren Aronovsky’s latest mother! (Lower case +!). 4 great actors: Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Harris, Michele Pfeiffer and total schlock. Warmed over Rosemary’s Baby. Did I say it was awful???Fortunately the NYT panned it.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

          Yes, I’m talking about the original Australian version. Very underrated, and one of the best first episodes of any show. Haven’t seen the US version… They have a habit of taking foreign stuff and shearing off the edges. Eg. The Killing.

          I saw some of the first series of Fargo and wasn’t that drawn in, although it was obviously good. I’m quite tempted by the new thing the writer did; Legion I think it’s called. I’ve also started watching The Leftovers from the start simply because of the rapturous reviews.

          This latest series of Twin Peaks has been utterly astonishing, completely mindblowing. It’s one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen on TV, yet at the same time I hear people say they hate it and can understand where they’re coming from. That would be the best thing I’ve seen on TV since Breaking Bad.

          As for Mother…if ever the premise for a film had the ability to put me off seeing it for ever it’s the idea of a ‘deep’, semiotic, openly pretentious film about a middle-class couple…by Darren Aaronofsky. It sounds like the kind of utter shite Lars von Trier has occasionally come out with, and since Dancer In The Dark is my low water mark for cinema in general I’m not tempted to dip my toe into the latest Aaronofsky indulgence. Or maybe you and I are just not sophisticated and open-minded enough to understand his brilliance? Yes that must be it.

          • Merilee
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

            Good point sbout the American versions shearing off the edges, Saul. I didn’t think the US Killing was bad, though, especially with the excellent actor playing Holder. David Tennant, for some strange reason, plays in both versions of Broadchurch. We couldn’t watch the US version. Stoopid. Watched both The Bridges ( US/Mexico and Sweden/Denmark) plus The Tunnel ( England/France) and found the latter the weakest. I had somehow missed the original Twin Peaks so looked forward to the remake. Watched the first episode and realized it’s just not my thing. I seem to be allergic to anything remitely sci-fi or wooish…Btw, the new Aronovsky is “mother!”. There was another film at the festival called “Mother”, which didn’t sound great, either. We went to the lower case one because of the actors. Mistake! Pretentious doesn’t begin to describe it.

  27. Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Yi Yi is dated 2000, so it’s not a 21st Century movie.

    • revelator60
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      A movie as great as Yi Yi deserves to have the rules bent in its favor. It’s available from the Criterion Collection and heartily recommended as a portrait of family life at the near-start of this century.

  28. Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Whatever one thinks about Eastwood’s politics, I can’t think of an actor-director who has produced such an incredible number of first rate films over such a sustained period.

    Sure, he’s produced some duds but he’s alternated crowd pleasers with deeply personal films like Bird, and he’s subverted his own tough guy persona in revisionist westerns like The Outlaw Josey Wales and the harrowing Unforgiven. He even scores his own films.

    The guy’s nearly ninety and it doesn’t look like he’s retiring from directing even if he has given his last acting performance.

  29. Scorch
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I haven’t seen a single movie on that list. And I like movies a lot. Not really all that surprised, I dislike most films that the NYT considers ‘great’.

  30. Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I keep sling myself why such and such isn’t on the list and then realising it’s actually 20 or 30 years old.

    Time is whizzing by. When I was a kid a 10 year old film was old. Now Gary Oldman is George Smiley and the kid from Beetlejuice is Spock’s mum.

  31. Dave
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Reading this makes me realise how out of touch I am with modern cinema. Not only have I not seen a single one of the top 10 films, I’ve never even heard of 7 of them!

    • dabertini
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      I beat you! I only recognize million dollar baby. How pathetic is that?

    • claudia baker
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Same here Dave. I have only heard of 2 of them. Haven’t seen any. I am very leary of modern cinema, as there’s way too much violence for my sensibilities. I find I don’t like to be “disturbed” anymore; and often movies are disturbing. I think seeing ‘Deliverance’ in my 20s did something to my brain. I never quite got over it.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        It certainly gave Ned Beatty a unique place in American cinematic history. 🙂

        • Merilee
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          I watch a fair # of movies, and read reviews, but I hadn’t heard of 6 of these.

  32. Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    My “favorite obscure-ish films of the century …

    2000 Comitted – Heather Graham — hilarious and quirky
    2001 Tortilla Soup — Echo of “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman — both are great
    2003 Open Range — best western ever
    2005 Junebug — the villian is not who you think
    2006 Miss Potter — she’s an iFeminist
    2008 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day — Amy Adams + Frances McDormand
    2009 Queen to Play — Kevin Cline and Sandrine Bonnaire, female finding power
    2012 Seeking a Friend for the End of the World — have you ever REALLY imagined it?
    2013 Ida — dark, daring, stark, breathtaking
    2014 The Hundred-Foot Journey — that’s sometimes how long a cultural cross-over requires

    • Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      added … the only “disturbing” film om my list is “Ida.” I don’t even consider “Seeking a friend…” to be disturbing. Or Open Range.

      For me, there has to be hope in it, and an encounter with good people

      • Merilee
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Hundred Foot Journey was very good, but then most of Helen Mirren’s films are.

  33. Wunold
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    A Ghibli Theme Park is planned for 2020. Miyazaki’s next film, Goro the Caterpillar, is said to be released in the same year.

  34. BJ
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh man oh man oh man did I LOATHE Boyhood. “It took twelve years to make! Did you know it took twelve years to make?” It was so stale and tedious, the characters were painfully dull, The kid’s acting was wooden and completely uninvolving, the dialogue trite, and the overall story was not only completely lacking in anything compelling, but seemed like it came from a first draft.

    But hey, it took twelve years to make, so I guess everyone involved must get accolades. The whole twelve years thing is the kind of gimmick critics and the Academy love.

    Here’s a great and hilarious review of the movie from my absolute favorite Youtubers:

  35. BJ
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and for me to list my best movies from this century would involve (1) going far beyond 25 of them (probably more like 200), and (2) nearly impossible because I would have to write the list over several long days of thought devoted solely to the task.

  36. merilee
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Of the ones I’ve seen, I thought that Boyhood was excellent, The Hurt Locker good, Million
    Dollar Baby pretty good and thought There Will be Blood very over-rated. Some recent, sort of quiet ones I’ve loved are Turner, Maudie, and Paterson.

    Very recent goodies from Sept. Toronto International Film Festival are Three Billboards Outside Epping Missouri ( Coen Brothersesque with Frances McDormans), The Upside (Bryan Cranston), and Jane ( recently discovered archival footage of Jane Goodall and chimp friends). These last three might not even be released yet.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Oh, the guy who wrote Three Billboards… (which I’d like to see) wrote In Bruges too*, which is one of the funniest, saddest films this century. All those people who snigger at Colin Farrel’s acting abilities can’t have seen him in this – he’s sublime.

      *unless I’ve got mixed up somewhere.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        In Bruges, which I love, was written and directed by Martin McDonagh (who also did Seven Psychopaths). Haven’t seen Three Billboards yet, but looking forward to it.

        • Merilee
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

          Effing Bruges🤓 (in joke…)
          You’ll love Three Billboards, Ken.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        +many

  37. mfdempsey1946
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    There are many fine movies on the Times list. “Yi Yi” (AKA in some places “A One and A Two”) especially deserves to be better known.

    But I want to post a vote for “Public Enemies,” the story of John Dillinger, with Johnny Depp in the lead and direction by Michael Mann.

    Simply as a lone-wolf crime picture, it’s the finest I’ve ever seen as well as Mann’s peak achievement to date (along with “Heat”).

    But beyond its ostensible subject, this film is also a penetrating study of both the joys and the catastrophes of trying to live only in the present.

    As Depp/Dilinger says, “We’re not thinking about tomorrow, we’re having too much fun today.” But there comes the instant when one must “let go” — words that pointedly heard more than once during the film.

    The digital styles of photography and editing used by Mann and his collaborators (much criticized — wrongly so, I believe — by many critics) perfectly and poetically capture both the thrills and the joys that are possible from the “right here, right now” perspective on life as well their swift extinction that so often has a way of suddenly looming in this transient life.

    There aren’t many big Hollywood studio releases nowadays that merit even one viewing. “Public Enemies” merits several viewings and (for me, at least) has never failed to reveal fresh facets with each. I have watched it often enough to have almost memorized it, but I still look forward to seeing it many more times.

    • Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      I will raise you a different vastly underappreciated Mann movie with Miami Vice.

      • mfdempsey1946
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        I agree completely that “Miami Vice” is also a grievously underrated Michael Mann movie.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Michael Mann has made some really good movies, starting with Thief back in the late Seventies. He’s made some so-so movies, too. But even when he makes so-so movies, goddamn, he makes them look good.

  38. Dan
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    As an anime fan for more than twenty years, my favorite Ghibli movies tend to be the less fantastical and more down-to-earth. My personal favorite would be “I can hear the Sea” (Ocean Waves). I watched it as a hopeless romantic 17 year old, having failed with my teenage love. The movie resonated with me so it will always be my #1 Ghibli movie (though it’s made for TV).

    Second would be “If you listen Closely” (Whisper of the Heart), another sappy teen romance movie from Ghibli, and I also watched it as a teen. Third is “Too many Memories” (Only Yesterday), yet another slice-of-life movie, albeit with an older, female main character. And coming on fourth is another teen romance, the newest on this list (and I watched this as a thirty-something professional) is “From Up on Poppy Hill”.

    All four of these movies have something in common, none are directed by Hayao Miyazaki. That explains the lack of Miyazaki’s trademark fantasy writing. Among Miyazaki films made under Studio Ghibli, I would choose Kiki’s Delivery Service as my favorite. It may be the closest to a slice-of-life anime that he could make.

    As for Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, both are pretty good movies but nothing spectacular. I’ve already watched most of Miyazaki’s and Ghibli’s movies when those came out and there is nothing truly groundbreaking except perhaps the stories.

    If you want something offbeat, try Porco Rosso, the Crimson Pig.

    • Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Dan, not “The Wind Rises?” It might not be ‘slice of life’ but there is no supernatural or fantasy in it.

    • bbenzon
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      I too recommend “Porco Rosso’, perhaps my favorite Miyazaki.

  39. Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Mentioned above Miami Vice some of my other choices would be Art of the Steal for best documentary mostly because it describes the system almost perfectly.

    Fury Road (19 on the list and only action film) is very good but some of the praise is just over the top at this point the second Bourne and Fast Five are both better and more important block buster action films.

    I would put Hell or High Water as the best film so far of the decade. And for the best over the last 17 years its Syriana just a brilliant movie.

  40. kelskye
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    There Will Be Blood is probably my favourite movie of this century. Though The Social Network, Mulholland Drive, and The Departed would all be up there with it for me. I’d personally rate Up higher than Inside Out as far as Pixar movies go.

    As far as Spirited Away goes, it might not be My Neighbour Totoro good (then again, what is?), but it’s a [i]really[/i] good fantasy tale. Up there with Studio Ghibli’s best. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Ponyo are also fantastic works by them of this century. (And it’s hard to go past Princess Mononoke from last century too.)

  41. Tim Harris
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I have lived in Japan for 44 years now, and am a great admirer of Miyazaki Hayao, principally, I think, because of his extraordinary abilities as a storyteller, the quality of his observation, and the intelligence and moral complexity of his stories. His works are very far from being the manipulative and sentimental kind of work in which so much Western animated films consist – Disney, I am afraid, in particular, whose films seem mostly to be produced by marketing committees. Lorna Salzman above is wrong to be so dismissive.

    • Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Actually I did include Triplets of Belleville, which was animated…but it was also much much more, highly original in theme and production, amazing concept that deserves praise. But folks, where is The Fighter???I forgot to include it on my list but really, really, it was great, GREAT! Did you all overlook it? Next we need a list of great documentaries. Put Last Train Home at the top of that list (Chinese).And Darwin’s Nightmare.

  42. Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Watch Spirited Away as soon as you can. My spouse & I are 51, our kids are 14&18, and this is one of all of our favorite movies of all time.

    And like all Miyazaki movies, you need to really watch it and let it take over your senses.

    And then watch Ponyo for the sheer joy of it.

    • bbenzon
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes. “Joy” is the word. The scene of Ponyo riding/walking/skipping on the waves to Wagnerian music is one of the most joyful I’ve ever seen.

  43. Darren Garrison
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only seen three of them: Spirited Away, Inside Out, and The 40 Year Old Virgin. IMHO Spirited Away definitely deserves to be on the list, Inside Out is “pretty good”, and T40YOV is crap. I haven’t even heard of maybe 3/4ths of the movies mentioned.

    Also, if animated films are going to be on the list, Tokyo Godfathers belongs.

  44. marvol19
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    It’s a slightly strange list, OT1H typical “left liberal art house” with its focus on foreign language low budget drama and lack of action & sci-fi.
    I would say Moon or Ex Machina (to name but two examples) deserve to be on this list as the sci-fi in those is only the vehicle for a philosophical exploration in much the same way as any indie drama.

    OTOH did I miss any Wes Anderson on this list? Surely he deserves a spot?!

  45. bbenzon
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s very simple, Jerry. Watch everything by Miyazaki you can get your hands on, in whatever order you can get to it. It’s wonderful stuff. Miyazaki-sama is a genius. There’s going to be disagreements about what are his best. I vacillate myself. By all means, watch “Spirited Away”. It really is wonderful. I’m partial to “Porco Rosso”, perhaps because it speaks to middle-aged (and older) men in a way that the other films don’t. But they’re all good, even the early, pre-Ghibli, “The Castle of Cagliostro”. It’s not as good as the later films, in the way that the earliest Shakespeare is not as good as the later stuff, but it’s still worth your (serious, and not-so-serious) attention. Just assume that “My Neighbor Totoro” – a very fine film, one of my favorites – is but the tip of the Miyazaki iceberg.

  46. Posted October 16, 2017 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    I haven’t seen all the Ghibli movies, but all of the ones I have seen are excellent.

    Do not watch them dubbed into English though – Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle are particularly hammed up by Billy Crystal and Phil Hartman doing painfully goofy “look at me everyone, I’m a famous comedian!” shtick, completely ignoring the original personality of the characters they play.

    Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of the mother wolf in Mononoke is very bland, but the original actor Akihiro Miwa is amazing in the role.

    In general, English dubs tend to make the films Americanised, dumbed down and cartoony. There is also a horrible tendency to add inane dialog to moments of silence and hyper-exaggerated murmurs, gasps and arghs that do not exist in the original.

    Best to stick with subtitles.

  47. Kat
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    After reading those comments on Miyazaki, I think I have to watch Spirited Away now. I’ve always heard about it but I still haven’t sat down to watch it.


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