This David Lynch masterpiece is a film split in half: a glamorous romance that suddenly morphs into bitter rejection, a Hollywood mystery that plunges into doom. Can there be another movie that speaks as resonantly– if unwittingly – to the awful moment that marked the ‘00s? Viewers grappled over the meaning of the ‘blue box’, finding little purchase. But in the troubled autumn of this psychodrama's 2001 NYC release, we might have understood it all too well. Mulholland Drive is the monster behind the diner; it's the self-delusional dream turned into nightmare. The triumph belongs to Lynch, who could have rested on the laurels of his three landmarks, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks. Creatively, though, he saved this project (originally a misunderstood TV pilot) from dismissal, retooling it and extending his story into complexity. Along the way, a star was born: the extraordinary Naomi Watts, whose fearless double performance wrecked all who submitted to its spell. –Joshua Rothkopf
Cinema has changed irrevocably since the millennium. We’ve seen the genesis and conclusion of billion-dollar franchises like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings; the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the death, and then rebirth, of Star Wars; and the influence of streaming services, which have graduated from producing small indie flicks to Oscar winners.
That quarter century has yielded some timeless masterpieces, like Brokeback Mountain, American Psycho and Pan’s Labyrinth, while filmmakers such as David Fincher and Wes Anderson made good on their early promise.
The 2010s saw the blockbuster take centre stage: of the ten highest grossing films of all time, eight were released in the last decade. Still, among the many Avengers movies, the failed attempts to make 3D happen (again), and Disney’s ever-growing market share, are some killer movies from brilliant new voices like Ari Aster, Barry Jenkins, Greta Gerwig, and Jordan Peele. And as we enter into the not-so-roaring twenties, even more diverse filmmakers such as Bong Joon-ho, Chloé Zhao and Jasmila Žbanić have left an indelible impression, too.
With two decades’ worth of releases to consider, we’ve combed through hundreds of films to pick the best of the best. So without further ado, here are the best films of the 21st century so far…
Written by David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf, Keith Uhlich, Stephen Garrett, Andrew Grant, Aaron Hillis, Tom Huddleston, Alim Kheraj, Tomris Laffly, Kevin B. Lee, Karina Longworth, Maitland McDonagh, Troy Patterson, Nicolas Rapold, Lisa Rosman, Nick Schager, Phil de Semlyen, Anna Smith, S. James Snyder.
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