The 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films

INTRODUCTION to The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Films (including films from 2000)
Current Version: February 2019 (12th edition)
Published on February 15, 2019
The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Films is an annually updated compendium of end-of-year, end-of-decade, all-time and miscellaneous lists and ballots relating specifically to films released from 2000 onwards. It contains, based on TSPDT's calculations, the 1,000 leading films (critically-speaking) from 2000 to 2018. It has been compiled from the multiple lists/ballots of 3,373 critics/sources.

In terms of the timeline of this project, the forthcoming 12 months will no doubt have a considerable impact on its makeup. The customary end-of-decade lists will inevitably start appearing in the last quarter of 2019 (and of course in the early part of 2020), and will result in films from 2010-2019 strengthening their placings amongst the 21st century canon. Till then, this is what we have, with the first part of the 21st Century still dominating the 1,000 (641 films from 2000-2009, and 359 from 2010-2019).

This year, a total of 59 films came and went, including 33 new entrants from 2017 and 2018. There was only one change to the top-10, and only two changes to the top-50.

The 10 Most Acclaimed Films of the 21st Century
1. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE Wong Kar-wai
2. MULHOLLAND DR. David Lynch
3. YI YI Edward Yang
4. THERE WILL BE BLOOD Paul Thomas Anderson
5. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND Michel Gondry
6. THE TREE OF LIFE Terrence Malick
7. SPIRITED AWAY Hayao Miyazaki
8. CACHÉ Michael Haneke
9. TROPICAL MALADY Apichatpong Weerasethakul
10. CITY OF GOD Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund

According to TSPDT's numbers, Alfonso Cuarón's black-and-white triumph Roma was the most critically-acclaimed film of 2018. It was followed by Lee Chang-dong's Burning and Paul Schrader's First Reformed. See below for the top-50 from the past year.

TSPDT's 50 Most Critically-Acclaimed Films of 2018 (based only on 2018 end-of-year ballots)
1. ROMA Alfonso Cuarón
2. BURNING Lee Chang-dong
3. FIRST REFORMED Paul Schrader
4. THE FAVOURITE Yorgos Lanthimos
5. COLD WAR Pawel Pawlikowski
6. LEAVE NO TRACE Debra Granik
7. BLACKKKLANSMAN Spike Lee
8. IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK Barry Jenkins
9. SHOPLIFTERS Hirokazu Koreeda
10. THE RIDER Chloé Zhao
11. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE Lynne Ramsay
12. ZAMA Lucrecia Martel
13. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU Boots Riley
14. PHANTOM THREAD Paul Thomas Anderson
15. A STAR IS BORN Bradley Cooper
16. EIGHTH GRADE Bo Burnham
17. HEREDITARY Ari Aster
18. WIDOWS Steve McQueen
19. CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? Marielle Heller
20. HAPPY AS LAZZARO Alice Rohrwacher
21. BLACK PANTHER Ryan Coogler
22. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND Orson Welles
23. THE IMAGE BOOK Jean-Luc Godard
24. SUPPORT THE GIRLS Andrew Bujalski
25. ANNIHILATION Alex Garland
26. ISLE OF DOGS Wes Anderson
27. PRIVATE LIFE Tamara Jenkins
28. MINDING THE GAP Bing Liu
29. THE DEATH OF STALIN Armando Iannucci
30. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT Christopher McQuarrie
31. WESTERN Valeska Grisebach
32. PADDINGTON 2 Paul King
33. WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? Morgan Neville
34. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
35. FIRST MAN Damien Chazelle
36. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
37. FREE SOLO Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin
38. A QUIET PLACE John Krasinski
39. SHIRKERS Sandi Tan
40. MADELINE'S MADELINE Josephine Decker
41. BLINDSPOTTING Carlos López Estrada
42. MANDY Panos Cosmatos
43. ASH IS PUREST WHITE Jia Zhangke
44. LET THE SUNSHINE IN Claire Denis
45. HIGH LIFE Claire Denis
46. TRANSIT Christian Petzold
47. FACES PLACES Agnès Varda & JR
48. WILDLIFE Paul Dano
49. LEAN ON PETE Andrew Haigh
50. THE WILD PEAR TREE Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Directors with the most films in the 21st Century list:
8 - Richard Linklater, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh.
7 - Wes Anderson, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Claire Denis, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino.
6 - Olivier Assayas, David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Haneke, Jia Zhangke, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Frederick Wiseman.
5 - Pedro Almodóvar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Noah Baumbach, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Alfonso Cuarón, Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, Clint Eastwood, David Fincher, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Abbas Kiarostami, Mike Leigh, Guy Maddin, Jafar Panahi, Park Chan-wook, Tsai Ming-liang, Gus Van Sant, Lars von Trier, Edgar Wright.


Breakdown of 1,000 films by Year:
2000 = 71 (-1)
2001 = 63 (-1)
2002 = 71 (+2)
2003 = 70 (+1)
2004 = 70 (-5)
2005 = 55 (-2)
2006 = 69 (-2)
2007 = 61 (no change)
2008 = 60 (-4)
2009 = 51 (-1)
2010 = 50 (-3)
2011 = 49 (-2)
2012 = 45 (-3)
2013 = 43 (-1)
2014 = 42 (no change)
2015 = 38 (-3)
2016 = 35 (-3)
2017 = 33 (+4)
2018 = 24 (+24)

Breakdown of 1,000 films by Country (Top 10 in bold):
Argentina 11, Australia 10, Austria 10, Belgium 7, Brazil 7, Cambodia 2, Canada 20, Chad 1, Chile 5, China 18, Czech Republic 1, Denmark 9, Ethiopia 1, Finland 4, France 121, Germany 25, Greece 3, Hong Kong 8, Hungary 3, India 4, Indonesia 3, Iran 14, Ireland 8, Israel 3, Italy 17, Japan 25, Mali 1, Mauritania 1, Mexico 7, Nepal 1, Netherlands 3, New Zealand 4, Norway 2, Philippines 3, Poland 2, Portugal 9, Romania 8, Russia 9, Saudi Arabia 1, Senegal 1, South Africa 1, South Korea 21, Spain 22, Sweden 12, Switzerland 3, Taiwan 8, Thailand 7, Turkey 5, Ukraine 1, United Kingdom 95, Uruguay 1, USA 432.

For those that disagree with the inclusion of made-for-television content in the 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films listing, listed below are the eight titles that would be included to replace Li'l Quinquin, The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear, The Wire, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, O.J.: Made in America, The Handmaid's Tale (Season 1), and Twin Peaks: The Return-:

Everlasting Moments (Jan Troell, 2008)
Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013)
Wild Tales (Damian Szifrón, 2014)
Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman, 2011)
Red Cliff (John Woo, 2008)
The Maid (Sebastián Silva, 2009)
The Good Shepherd (Robert De Niro, 2006)
Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the compilation of this edition (and previous editions for that matter) and to everyone who has contacted me with their ongoing support. Your enthusiasm and assistance is very much appreciated. Please email your feedback (good, bad, or ugly) to bill@theyshootpictures.com or leave comments below.

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