The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century

The Times started this earlier this week, and like I’ve said, I’m unable to resist the call to list making. For the past few years, when one of these comes out I get annoyed that mainstream critics’ list don’t contain enough Chinese films, and that the ones they do list are the most boring, obvious choices. The Times list has three, which considering they only list 25 movies, isn’t a bad ratio, and only one of them is In the Mood for Love or Yi yi, which is nice. I haven’t done an actual best of the century list for awhile, so here it goes. One film per director, but with no more than three other titles by them I think are great listed as an aside.

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1. The New World (Terence Malick, 2005)
Also: The Tree of Life, Knight of Cups, Song to Song

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2. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)
Also: Three Times, Flight of the Red Balloon, The Assassin

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3. Oki’s Movie (Hong Sangsoo, 2010)
Also: The Day He Arrives, Hill of Freedom, Yourself and Yours

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4. Running on Karma (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2003)
Also: My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, Exiled, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2

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5. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
Also: Blissfully Yours, Syndromes and a Century, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

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6. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
Also: Inland Empire

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7. La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins, 2000)

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8. Oxhide II (Liu Jiayin, 2009)
Also: Oxhide, 607

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9. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
Also: Like Someone in Love

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10. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

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11. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
Also: In the Mood for Love, My Blueberry Nights, The Grandmaster

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12. The Midnight After (Fruit Chan, 2014)

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13. Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008)

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14. Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008)
Also: Suicide Club, Tokyo Tribe

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15. It Felt Like a Kiss (Adam Curtis, 2009)
Also: The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares, The Trap

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16. The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh, 2013)

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17. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
Also: The Limits of Control, Only Lovers Left Alive

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18. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)
Also: La La La at Rock Bottom

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19. Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Also: Ali, Public Enemies, Blackhat

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20. La danse (Frederick Wiseman, 2009)
Also: At Berkeley, National Gallery, In Jackson Heights

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21. Baahubali (SS Rajamouli, 2015 & 2017)

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22. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke, 2015)
Also: Platform, Still Life, The Hedonists

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23. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen, 2003)
Also: Get Out of the Car, The Thoughts that Once We Had

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24. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008)
Also: Friday Night, L’Intrus, Bastards

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25. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang, 2003)
Also: What Time is it There? Stray Dogs, Journey to the West

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This Week in Rankings

Since the last update I made several end of the year lists for 2016: of The Best Older Films I Saw, The Best Books I Read, and The Best Films of the Year (via conventional chronology), along with a collection of pictures I took of passages from books I read throughout the year. I also announced the nominees for this year’s Endy Awards and wrote about the first two of Tsui Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China movies. Over at Seattle Screen Scene I wrote about Paul WS Anderson’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, the Jackie Chan vehicle Railroad Tigers, Cheng Er’s The Wasted Times, and Derek Yee’s The Sword Master.

Also at SSS, we had the results of our annual year-end poll of local critics, programmers and directors, along with a fourpart roundtable discussion of the year in film among regular SSS contributors. I wrote about Oliver Stone’s JFK for Movie Mezzanine, contributed some Double Features to Mubi’s year-end collection, wrote about Toni Erdmann and Zhao Tao for InReview Online, voted in Movie Mezzanine’s end of the year poll and wrote about the Best Chinese Films of the Year and my Film Discoveries of 2016 for them. I also recapped the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival for Offscreen.

These are the movies I’ve watched and rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

Dangerous Encounters – First Kind (Tsui Hark) – 5, 1980
When Harry Met Sally… (Rob Reiner) – 8, 1989
Once Upon a Time in China (Tsui Hark) – 5, 1991
JFK (Oliver Stone) – 12, 1991
Once Upon a Time in China II (Tsui Hark) – 10, 1992

Once Upon a Time in China III (Tsui Hark) – 50, 1993
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō) – 3, 1995
Resident Evil (Paul WS Anderson) – 18, 2002
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Alexander Witt) – 34, 2004
Resident Evil: Extinction (Russell Mulcahy) – 14, 2007

Missing (Tsui Hark) – 28, 2008
All About Women (Tsui Hark) – 32, 2008
Resident Evil: Afterlife (Paul WS Anderson) – 11, 2010
Wishful Drinking – 51, 2010
Resident Evil: Retribution (Paul WS Anderson) – 13, 2012

Pompeii (Paul WS Anderson) – 27, 2014
The LEGO Movie (Chris Miller & Phil Lord) – 63, 2014
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer) – 59, 2015
A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) – 108, 2015
Silence (Martin Scorsese) – 5, 2016

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins) – 9, 2016
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Paul WS Anderson) – 14, 2016
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Karan Johar) – 19, 2016
The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig) – 25, 2016
Tower (Keith Maitland) – 30, 2016

The Wasted Times (Cheng Er) – 31, 2016
Rogue One (Gareth Edwards) – 32, 2016
Train to Busan (Yeon Sangho) – 36, 2016
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) – 38, 2016
Let Your Heart Be Light (Sophy Romvari) – 39, 2016
Split (M. Night Shyamalan) – 45, 2016

Garfunkel & Oates: Trying to be Special (Riki Lindhome & Jeremy Konner) – 65, 2016
The Wailing (Na Hongjin) – 67, 2016
🌲🌲🌲 (Various) – 76, 2016
13th (Ava DuVernay) – 82, 2016
Railroad Tigers (Ding Sheng) – 85, 2016

Sword Master (Derek Yee) – 88, 2016
Allied (Robert Zemeckis) – 89, 2016
Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) – 92, 2016
Sing (Garth Jennings) – 95, 2016
Star Trek Beyond (Justin Lin) – 108, 2016

A Top 100 Films of All-Time

It is time once again for a Top 100 Films of All-Time list. As I’ve done for the last few years, the first ten spots on the list comprise a hypothetical Sight & Sound-style ballot. We had an on-going project related to this on The George Sanders Show, that will now be based at Seattle Screen Scene. This top ten is presented here in chronological order. The remaining 90 films were randomly selected from a consideration set of 867 films, which excluded films that made my Top Tens in 201220132014 and 2015.

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1. Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey, 1935)

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2. Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)

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3. News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1977)

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4. The Green Ray (Eric Rohmer, 1986)

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5. Peking Opera Blues (Tsui Hark, 1986)

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6. The Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992)

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7. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)

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8. Running on Karma (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2003)

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9. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

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10. Linda Linda Linda (Nouhiro Yamashita, 2005)

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11. The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper, 1971)

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12. Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang, 2015)

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13. Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)

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14. Nomad (Patrick Tam, 1982)

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15. Run of the Arrow (Samuel Fuller, 1957)

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16. Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)

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17. The Golem: How He Came Into the World (Paul Wegener & Carl Boese, 1920)

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18. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

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19. Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung, 1984)

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20. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

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21. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)

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22. Choose Me (Alan Rudolph, 1984)

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23. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

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24. Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

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25. The Heroic Ones (Chang Cheh, 1970)

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26. What Time is it There? (Tsai Ming-liang, 2001)

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27. The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, 1975)

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28. Hearts of the World (DW Griffith, 1918)

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29. Romancing in Thin Air (Johnnie To, 2012)

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30. There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1955)

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31. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt, 2015)

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32. Written By (Wai Ka-fai, 2009)

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33. Big Night (Campbell Scott & Stanley Tucci, 1996)

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34. The Pan-American Exposition by Night (Edwin S. Porter, 1901)

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35. Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

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36. Kiss Me Kate (George Sidney, 1953)

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37. Sixty Six (Lewis Klahr, 2015)

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38. Come Drink with Me (King Hu, 1966)

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39. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999)

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40. City Girl (FW Murnau, 1930)

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41. Fort Apache (John Ford, 1948)

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42. Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz, 2012)

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43. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

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44. L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

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45. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

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46. Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter, 1986)

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47. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)

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48. Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985)

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49. Friday Night (Claire Denis, 2002)

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50. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986)

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51. Exiled (Johnnie To, 2006)

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52. Romance Joe (Lee Kwangkuk, 2011)

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53. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002)

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54. Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961)

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55. City on Fire (Ringo Lam, 1987)

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56. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)

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57. 24 City (Jia Zhangke, 2008)

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58. Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway, 1991)

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59. The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962)

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60. The Sword of Doom (Kihachi Okamoto, 1966)

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61. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (Adam Curtis, 2007)

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62. Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow, 2001)

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63. The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh, 2013)

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64. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012)

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65. In Another Country (Hong Sangsoo, 2012)

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66. Toute la mémoire du monde (Alain Resnais, 1956)

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67. Kid Auto Races at Venice (Henry Lehrman, 1914)

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68. Wife! Be Like a Rose! (Mike Naruse, 1935)

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69. Culloden (Peter Watkins, 1964)

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70. Henry Fool (Hal Hartley, 1997)

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71. PTU (Johnnie To, 2003)

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72. The East is Red (Ching Siu-tung & Raymond Lee, 1993)

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73. Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994)

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74. Hapkido (Huang Feng, 1972)

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75. Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)

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76. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

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77. Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Frears, 1988)

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78. Chinese Odyssey 2002 (Jeffrey Lau, 2002)

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79. This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)

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80. A Woman is a Woman (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961)

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81. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

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82. Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)

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83. Wee Willie Winkie (John Ford, 1937)

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84. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Allan Arkush, 1979)

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85. Yesterday Once More (Johnnie To, 2004)

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86. The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)

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87. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichhardt, 2010)

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88. To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944)

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89. Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2002)

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90. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Bill Melendez, 1966)

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91. Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey, 1963)

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92. Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter, 1987)

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93. Two Tars (James Parrott, 1928)

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94. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)

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95. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (Eleanor Coppola, Fax Bahr & George Hickenlooper, 1991)

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96. Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

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97. Body Double (Brian De Palma, 1984)

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98. Unfaithfully Yours (Preston Sturges, 1948)

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99. The Day He Arrives (Hong Sangsoo, 2011)

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100. Heroes of the East (Lau Kar-leung, 1978)

The 50 Best Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century

When Film4 published a list of their “100 Must-See Films of the 21st Century” and only bothered to include two Chinese films (Yi yi and In the Mood for Love, of course), I countered with this list on letterboxd of 100 Must-See Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century. Almost two years have passed since then, and I’ve been wanting to update that list, since honestly I was kind of stretching the limits of what I’d recommend when I got into the nineties. Well, yesterday came The Playlist’s list of The 50 Best Foreign Language Films of the 21st Century. Five of the films on their list are Chinese Language (the same obvious Edward Yang and Wong Kar-wai picks, along with Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo, Tsai Ming-liang’s What Time is It There? and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That’s right: no Johnnie To.), and while they’re somewhat hampered by their self-imposed one-film-per-director rules, that, to me, is still an unacceptably low number for what has been and continues to be the most vibrant and fascinating film culture in the world. And today, Richard Brody’s response in the New Yorker, while an improvement in making room for Jia Zhangke and Wang Bing (and Korean director Hong Sangsoo), still has only seven Chinese titles.

So here are my 50 Best Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century. I’m limited in making this list by the movies I’ve seen, and there are still many, many Chinese films I haven’t watched yet. I’m also sticking with The Playlist’s rule and limiting myself to one film per director (in the case of collaborations, I’m counting them as separate directors: Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai together is a different director from either Johnnie To or Wai Ka-fai individually. This is arbitrary of course). The movies are ranked in order of my current preference, with links to where I’ve written about or discussed them, along with, in some cases, no more than five other recommended films by the director.

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The Best Older Movies I Saw in 2015

An annual tradition here at The End, this is a look at my favorite film discoveries of the year, any movie more than a few years old that I saw for the first time in 2015. Previous years include: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006. I watched 368 or so movies in 2015, roughly third of which qualify for this list. That’s a sizable decline from last year, where half the films I watched were discoveries, a result of spending more of my movie-time this year on new releases for Seattle Screen Scene and on rewatches for They Shot Pictures. Here are 75 that I liked.

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1. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)

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2. It Felt Like a Kiss (Adam Curtis, 2009)

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3. News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1977)

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4. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)

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5. Le bonheur (Agnès Varda, 1965)

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6. The Civil War (Ken Burns, 1990)

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7. Man of Aran (Robert Flaherty, 1934)

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8. Tokyo Olympiad (Kon Ichikawa, 1965)

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9. Christmas in July (Preston Sturges, 1940)

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10. The Sun Shines Bright (John Ford, 1953)

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