Joe’s Top 5 Films of the 21st Century

These films were selected because of their cinematic significance, watchability, skill of production/direction, and strength of the cast. We’d love to hear your opinions as well!

5. The Master (2012)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s unquestionable skill as a director shines in 2012’s The Master. From its compelling visual style, to its remarkable performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, to the enigmatic yet fascinating storytelling, every moment of this film brings something new to the table. It’s most certainly the type of film that requires multiple watches: and I’ll be more than happy to do so.

4. No Country For Old Men (2007)

2007’s No Country For Old Men presents the viewer with something few have been able to achieve in cinema: true suspense. Tension is, for most of these films, the reason they’ve earned their places on this list, and no film is a better example of it than this. Arguably one of the greatest villain performances in recent cinema comes from Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh, the relentless assassin who often embodies Death itself. Themes of fate, absurdity, and greed are all explored in what will surely become an American landmark in cinema.

3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

While all of the credit for the creation of Lord of the Rings goes deservedly to legendary fantasy novelist J.R.R. Tolkien, there’s no doubt that Peter Jackson’s film adaptation set the standard for the modern epic film. In many ways, Lord of the Rings became to mainstream audiences in the 2000’s what Star Wars did for the 1980’s: defining the hero epic for a whole generation of people, young and old. And Jackson’s unwavering faith to canon will leave even the most hardcore of Hobbits satisfied. The cast is overall excellent and Jackson’s three year struggle to adapt the classic novels resulted in smashing success, both in the box office and in cinematic quality.

2. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

Few war movies have broken new ground in terms of storytelling since the landmark Saving Private Ryan. But in 2006, Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima brought Americans a new perspective: that of the enemy. The heart wrenching tale of several Japanese soldiers and their struggles between their strict code of honor and their desire to survive the horrors of Iwo Jima and return to their homes, the exceptional acting and fantastic direction by Eastwood make this, together with its companion film Flags of Our Fathers, the must-see war movie of the modern century.

1. There Will Be Blood (2007)

What can I say about 2007’s There Will Be Blood that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over? It’s little surprise that Paul Thomas Anderson makes this list twice, and that he’s achieved my utmost respect as the director of what I firmly believe to be the most fully realized film in twenty years. There Will Be Blood is one of the few films I’ve seen that I would call a masterpiece without hesitation. Daniel Day Lewis’ greatest performance of his utterly remarkable career comes as Daniel Plainview, one of the most compelling and definitively human characters in recent film. So much is told in the film’s opening sequence without dialogue that the first time we hear Plainview speak, it’s almost shocking. Every second is calculated, planned, and executed in utmost style; there are moments of directorial brilliance that still bring me something new with every watch. Truly, There Will Be Blood is a landmark in modern filmmaking, and for that, it has earned its place as my top film of this century.

12 thoughts on “Joe’s Top 5 Films of the 21st Century

  1. Paul Marino February 2, 2013 / 11:00 am

    The Master #5??? The Master isn’t in the Top 10 of 2012, let alone Top 5 of the 21st century! Come on! No Crash? Oh, I get it: This is a joke.

    • Joe Holley February 2, 2013 / 7:42 pm

      Personally, I found Crash to be at best, heavy handed and preachy, and at worst, overacted. Just not in my taste.
      As for my post being a joke: I can assure you that I have nothing but the utmost sincerity in my love of these movies. You are, of course, entitled to post your own opinions, though I’d appreciate you not attempting to belittle my own.

      • Paul Marino February 5, 2013 / 2:43 pm

        Fair enough. I apologize for the slight. But I do think you should reassess The Master at #5 and Crash as preachy (it was not that – you missed the point that we are all racist in some way, rather than a “stop being a racist” film) and overacted (that’s impossible in an ensemble cast when no one has a lead role in the entire film) in let’s say 10 years. Your opinion of Crash may not change but, assuming you still discuss The Master, you will be the only person alive who does. Crash has already passed the ultimate test. The Master never will.

      • Andrew King February 5, 2013 / 6:16 pm

        I actually just watched Crash in the last few days on your recommendation and I thought I would throw my opinion into the ring. While I did rather like the movie, I can completely see where Joe was coming from. For overacting, there were moments that felt artificially melodramatic, I would agree. And as far as a take away message from the film? I don’t really think that saying everyone is a little bit racist is something particularly deep on its own, especially since, rather than delving into something some deeper discussion of what it means to be racist, why people are racist, or the place for racism in our society as either an evil or an integral part of our modern culture, the movie felt a little one note as it simply repeated “everyone’s a little bit racist.” Now as for the Master, I did list that as my second favorite film of the year, but I fully recognize it was a very polarizing movie and had its fair share of problems. However, I thought it was a very thought provoking movie even though it was seemingly a little to ambiguous to actually draw a concrete message. I still prefer that to having one message repeated to the audience again and again, I think by doing that it takes away some weight of the stories by encourage the audience to say “Oh I get it! Even people who don’t seem racist can be racist!” That being said, I thought it was a good film, and while I would put neither in the top ten list for this century, if I were to extend the list it would include the Master long before it included Crash.

    • namz March 22, 2013 / 12:41 am

      bro you should consider eternal sunshine of the spotless mind,

      • Paul Marino March 27, 2013 / 7:02 am

        Eternal Sunshine is magnificent!

  2. greercn February 2, 2013 / 11:08 am

    I agreer with you that Letters from Iwo Jima is an amazing movie but I don’t share your love for the Coen brothers and I really disliked the Master, although Joaquim Phoenix is astonishing in his role. Still, each to his or her own!

  3. jlo2000 February 2, 2013 / 1:42 pm

    For mine The Master was compelling – couldn’t take my eyes off Peonix and Seymour Hoffman – top 5 in 12 years is a tough call but The Master is a great movie

  4. dbmoviesblog February 2, 2013 / 2:55 pm

    I am so pleased to see ‘There Will Be Blood’ as number 1. That film is flawless. I consider Day-Lewis’s performance there as one of the best in all times.

    • Joe Holley February 2, 2013 / 7:44 pm

      Agreed wholeheartedly. Lewis was pure genius in this role.

  5. Niejan February 2, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    Although I haven’t seen Letters from Iwo Jima and The Dark Knight (2008) is missing, this is an agreeable list to go by. 🙂 Nice picks.

  6. pinatafat February 9, 2013 / 8:48 pm

    Haha, I love that Paul Thomas Anderson’s in your list twice.

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