The 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films

INTRODUCTION to The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Films (including films from 2000)
Current Version: March 2017 (10th edition)
Bill Georgaris

Hello again list people, and thanks for coming back. Hello also to first-time readers of this little project.

As you would have deciphered over the years, I always try and keep my introductions brief, and this year is no exception. I only 'speak' when it's absolutely necessary! I prefer to let the lists do the talking, so let's go.

As you know, 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. This is the tenth edition. It contains, based on TSPDT's calculations, the 1,000 leading films (critically speaking) from 2000 to 2016. It has been compiled from the multiple lists/ballots of 2,839 critics/sources. This year, a total of 132 films came and went, including 45 new entrants from 2015 and 2016.

As I promised in last year's introduction, I have now included all the
Sight & Sound top-5 ballots from their 2005-2016 end-of-year polls. These were previously excluded due to my collation criteria which prohibited the inclusion of ballots containing less than 10 films. This restrictive criteria has now been abolished. The Sight & Sound ballots have clearly had a major impact on the list, not only in terms of the amount of changes (132), but also in terms of the ranking movements within the list.

For many, a list of 1,000 films from just the last 17 years may seem like overkill, but my main reasoning - beginning in 2015 - behind expanding the list from 250 to 1,000 was to give readers the opportunity to decide for themselves how much cinema from 2000 onwards is deemed worthy of attention. For some, the top 250 is enough and will remain the focus. For others, perhaps those who have seen all or most of the top 250, an extension of the list may prove useful in terms of their ongoing 21st Century viewing. At the end of the day you can come to your own conclusion as to where the ‘quality’ ends. You can stop at number 250, 300, 500, etc. The choice is yours.

In terms of the ‘cream’ at the top, five films made considerable progress.
There Will Be Blood, Caché and The Tree of Life all rose up within the top 10, andTropical Malady and Brokeback Mountain bounced their way into the top 10.

Barry Jenkins' Oscar-winning coming-of-age drama Moonlight, according to TSPDT's numbers, was the most critically-acclaimed film of 2016, and deservedly so. Toni Erdmann and Manchester by the Sea were not far behind.

Download the list of the 21st Century's most acclaimed 1,000 films
Download the starting list of 5,519 films

Tropical Malady
New to the Top 10… Tropical Malady (2004)

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. CACHÉ Michael Haneke
6. THE TREE OF LIFE Terrence Malick
8. SPIRITED AWAY Hayao Miyazaki
9. TROPICAL MALADY Apichatpong Weerasethakul

TSPDT's 25 Most Critically-Acclaimed Films of 2016 (based on 2016 end-of-year ballots only)
1. MOONLIGHT Barry Jenkins
3. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Kenneth Lonergan
4. LA LA LAND Damien Chazelle
5. ELLE Paul Verhoeven
6. PATERSON Jim Jarmusch
7. HELL OR HIGH WATER David Mackenzie
8. CERTAIN WOMEN Kelly Reichardt
9. THE HANDMAIDEN Park Chan-wook
10. O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA Ezra Edelman
11. AMERICAN HONEY Andrea Arnold
12. ARRIVAL Denis Villeneuve
13. I. DANIEL BLAKE Ken Loach
14. CAMERAPERSON Kirsten Johnson
15. LOVE & FRIENDSHIP Whit Stillman
16. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! Richard Linklater
17. JACKIE Pablo Larraín
18. THINGS TO COME Mia Hansen-Løve
19. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Raoul Peck
20. THE WITCH Robert Eggers
21. JULIETA Pedro Almodóvar
22. THE LOBSTER Yorgos Lanthimos
23. SILENCE Martin Scorsese
24. 13TH Ava DuVernay
25. FIRE AT SEA Gianfranco Rosi

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

Breakdown of 1,000 films by Year:
2000 = 75 (-15)
2001 = 70 (-9)
2002 = 73 (-15)
2003 = 71 (-10)
2004 = 75 (-3)
2005 = 57 (no change)
2006 = 75 (-5)
2007 = 64 (+2)
2008 = 63 (-1)
2009 = 51 (-1)
2010 = 54 (no change)
2011 = 56 (+5)
2012 = 51 (+1)
2013 = 47 (+3)
2014 = 43 (+3)
2015 = 44 (+14)
2016 = 31 (+31)

Breakdown of 1,000 films by Country (Top 10 in bold):
Argentina 10, Australia 8, Austria 10, Belarus 1, Belgium 7, Brazil 5, Cambodia 2, Cameroon 1, Canada 20, Chile 5, China 21, Colombia 1, Czech Republic 1, Denmark 9, Finland 3, France 129, Germany 31, Greece 2, Hong Kong 7, Hungary 3, India 3, Indonesia 2, Iran 13, Ireland 7, Israel 5, Italy 14, Japan 24, Mali 1, Mexico 7, Nepal 1, Netherlands 3, New Zealand 5, Norway 2, Palestine 1, Philippines 3, Poland 1, Portugal 12, Romania 9, Russia 9, Saudi Arabia 1, Senegal 1, South Korea 20, Spain 20, Sweden 12, Switzerland 2, Taiwan 8, Thailand 8, Turkey 5, Ukraine 1, United Kingdom 100, Uruguay 1, USA 423.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the compilation of this edition 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 or leave comments below.

Begin browsing the 2017 edition of The 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films.
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