25 Best Films of the 21st Century

by Grant & Michelle C.

The New York Times recently released their best 25 films of the 21st Century list.  Their top critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott collaborated and came up with a consensus list. If you ever notice the taglines of who writes these Bibliofiles posts, you will realize that your two film bloggers could never come to a consensus best of list. So instead we present a top 12 for each … with one consensus pick, and lots of snarky talk.

Grant’s List:  In no particular order, because I just can’t.

The Royal Tenenbaums

Grant’s comments: There is a warmth in this film that transcends the at times dark subject matter. Gene Hackman is at his best in the role of Tenenbaum family patriarch, which reminds me how sad it is that he is retired. Also, the soundtrack like for most of Wes Anderson’s films is amazing.

Michelle’s comments: Darn, I loved this movie too. No snark from me.



City of God

Grant’s comments: Violent, kinetic, stunning. Despite the unpleasant subject matter a beautiful film.


Michelle’s comments: You lost me at “unpleasant subject matter.” No thanks; sounds horrible.


Lost in Translation

Grant’s comments: Captures the strange feeling of isolation that can occur when you travel abroad, and how you can connect with strangers.


Michelle’s comments: Ugh, another older man/beautiful younger woman scenario. And Bill Murray is the worst.


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Grant’s comments: Watching this is almost like reliving a weird dream you had.  Beautifully shot and unlike almost anything else in American cinema.


Michelle’s comments: This is on my list of movies to watch. Look at that cover–so beautiful. But for some reason, I just can’t work up the energy to watch it.



Grant’s comments: I could watch the first 20 minutes of this film on loop endlessly. Picking only one Pixar film was nearly impossible, but this is my choice.


Michelle’s comments: It shocks me, SHOCKS ME, that Grant would pick a romance for his Pixar choice. This movie is awesome and makes you realize that talking is overrated.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Grant’s comments: Ricky might be the best character in any film this century, he is so great. A film that knows saccharine isn’t heart. One of two movies on my list shot in New Zealand!

Michelle’s comments: I might give it a try (just to see what Grant considers heart).





Grant’s comments: Like panther cologne, 60% of the time this movie is hilarious all of the time.


Michelle’s comments: Everyone I know thinks this movie is hilarious. I don’t. Not my type of humor and it would never make my top 25 list.


No Country for Old Men

Grant’s comments: The sense of foreboding is almost too much to take. Everyone in the cast is perfect in their role. Amazingly this isn’t even close to the darkest of Cormac McCarthy’s novels.

Michelle’s comments: I met Cormac McCarthy once in real life when we were on the same ferry. He was solitary, drank scotch in the morning, and wrote in the margins of the book he was reading. He was Ernest Hemingway cool. But his books are depressing so I can only read about one a decade. I can’t imagine how depressing this movie must be.


Sing Street

Grant’s comments: The music is fantastic, the kids are amazing, and the story is delightful. This musical was much better than La La Land last year.  Conor’s chameleon-like ability to move from musical style to musical style (and hair style) is wonderful.

Michelle’s comments: I don’t like movies about bands. Or the eighties (I had to live through that time already). Add in a tale of first love and you’ve lost me. But I also agree that La La Land was not my favorite.



Grant’s comments: So dark and calculated. David Fincher at his apex. If you are into true crime this movie is a must. Robert Downey Jr. in perhaps his best role ever, much better than Iron Man.

Michelle’s comments: I love true crime, but did not like this movie. The satisfaction in true crime is in finding the killer and solving the case. Spoiler: They don’t.



Ex Machina

Grant’s comments: This movie is unnerving, and at times frightening, without resorting to cheap horror thrills. The film basically has only four “people” in it. Great Sci-Fi exploration of Artificial Intelligence.

Michelle’s comments: I would probably watch this. But why do robots always have to be beautiful women? If you don’t want humans to fall in love with robots, stop making them so pretty! Check here to see if robots will take over your job in the future.


The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring

Grant’s comments: Such a challenging adaptation of a work, Peter Jackson did the impossible with this film, and really all three.  The Hobbit on the other hand … yikes. Let’s just focus on the good.

Michelle’s comments: I can’t fault Grant’s choice here. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is EPIC.



Michelle List:

Slumdog Millionaire

Michelle’s comments: I hate movies that are depressing and hopeless. Slumdog Millionaire is the opposite. It realistically shows what it is like to grow up in the slums of India, while adding a dimension of fairytale with the overlay of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” This movie just makes me happy.

Grant’s comments: I like Danny Boyle, so while this isn’t my favorite of his work (too uplifting) I won’t condemn it.


 Wonder Woman

Michelle’s comments: Grant said I couldn’t add Wonder Woman to my list. I told him that Wonder Woman would appreciate the lack of irony in me ignoring him and adding this movie despite what he said. This movie made me cry. Believe the hype. You will feel empowered and ready to take on the world.

Grant’s comments: Hey! I said you couldn’t add it because at the time it wasn’t in the catalog. I haven’t seen it because I have a child at home that forbids me going to the theater, but it has to be better than the rest of the DCU drivel.



The Dark Knight

Michelle’s comments: Sigh. Heath Ledger. This movie was dark, violent, and emotionally intense. It showed how great acting and a new vision could revitalize an overdone series.

Grant’s comments: This movie is pretty great, although the ending … blah.





Michelle’s comments: I wasn’t all that interested in seeing this movie, until I did. Now it is on my top 12 list. Don’t expect an action-packed science fiction movie. This movie is slower and it has more heart.

Grant’s comments: No snark here. This was one of my favorite movies of the year.



Silver Linings Playbook

Michelle’s comments: Time for a comedy. Comedies never appear on best movie lists, which is a shame. What I love about this movie is that it combines real-life problems with quirky characters and hilarious situations. Plus dancing.

Grant’s comments: Comedies do appear on best movies lists (see above).



Kill Bill

Michelle’s comments: Most of Quentin Tarantino’s films star men. Imagine my surprise when Kill Bill came out in theaters and had not one, but multiple strong female leads. Add in some cool anime scenes, stylized fights, a great soundtrack and you have a movie on my top 12 list.

Grant’s comments: Are we only talking Volume 1? Or does Volume 2 makes the list?  Also Jackie Brown is about Jackie Brown




Michelle’s comments: Amelie would make my top twenty-five movies EVER list. I love its sweetness; but it’s not cloying. It respects the small moments and acts that make each person an individual. It seems to say that if we could all be a little braver and kinder, this world would be a much more welcoming place.

Grant’s comments: Saccharin sweet



Hotel Rwanda

Michelle’s comments: On the other end of the spectrum is Hotel Rwanda. A movie that makes you realize we as humans will look for any difference, no matter how small, to create conflict and hate. This movie is chilling in that regard. But Hotel Rwanda focuses on the good as well. The people who are willing to do everything they can to help others. Extremely moving.

Grant’s comments: Don Cheadle rules.



Pan’s Labyrinth

Michelle’s comments: Visually stunning. Violent and disturbing. Pan’s Labyrinth is a parable. A mixture of fantasy and reality told through the eyes of a little girl. It’s one of those movies that you could watch a thousand times and notice something different each time.

Grant’s comments: I think this is another movie I own, but haven’t seen!




Michelle’s comments: I love coming-of-age books and movies. Juno is one of the best. Full of small truths and witty dialogue, there are so many scenes in Juno that will have you spellbound. Hilarious and full of heart.

Grant’s comments: Is this movie a sequel to Arrested Development?



The Host

Michelle’s comments: This is not Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. This is a Korean horror movie. Horror movies, like comedies, never make best movie lists. But The Host is different; it’s part comedy, part horror, part action. What I love most about this movie is how it portrays a family’s relationship, nit-picky and antagonistic until one of the members is in danger and everyone pulls together.

Grant’s comments: I stopped reading at Stephenie Meyer.




Michelle’s comments: A grouchy, old man and a manic, chubby kid–not your typical heroes, which is one of the things I like best about this movie. Plus Carl and Ellie’s love story during the first twenty minutes of the movie will leave you in tears and expand your heart ten-fold.

Grant’s comments: Funny story, my Mom saw this movie with a child she was watching, he was really excited for the “adventure”. After the first 15 minutes of the film he turned to my Mom with tears streaming down his face and asked “When does the adventure start!”  Great movie though.



 Consensus Pick!

Spirited Away

Michelle’s comments: I basically love everything that Studio Ghibli creates.  They do a great job with world-building, character development, and the animation is breathtaking.

Grant’s comments: I love this movie so much. Everything about it is perfect. Miyazaki is the best.




What are some of your favorite movies of the century?






12 responses to “25 Best Films of the 21st Century”

  1. Grant says:

    Bill Murray is the worst?!?!? Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Stripes, Scrooged, Groundhog Day, Kingpin, Rushmore, Zombieland, and a host of other movies would like a word with you. As yes, this is the author of the post commenting on their own post.

  2. Isaac says:

    Don’t forget Quick Change, What about Bob and Little Shack of Horrors (best ever cameo).

    • Michelle C. says:

      Isaac, “What About Bob?” is the movie that first created my antagonistic feelings towards Bill Murray!

  3. KP says:

    This is a great list and the comments are equally hilarious. Made my day.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Michelle: Ex Machina is great. The robot’s beauty has a plot purpose that pays off in the end. You would like it. Bonus: Domhnall Gleeson being vulnerable.

  5. Jim McCluskey says:

    Nobody drinks coffee like Bill Murray in Coffee & Cigarettes.

  6. Grant says:

    Well, I think we can all agree that Michelle is wrong on Bill Murray. Which validates my list as it has a movie with Mr. Murray.

  7. snoisleblogs says:

    I’m with Michelle in regards to What About Bob, but Murray forever won me with Zombieland (I love that movie probably more than it warrants). Michelle, have you SEEN Zombieland?

    • Michelle C. says:

      I will admit that I did enjoy Bill Murray’s cameo in Zombieland. Especially because of what happens to him. (evil grin)

  8. SD says:

    “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” alone puts Bill Murray on the BEST list. Great list nonetheless, loved the snarky comments!

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