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Only Six 21st Century Films Landed on the BBC's 100 Best American Films of All Time

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 25, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 25, 2015 |

The BBC ranked the 100 best American films this week, based on the polling from critics around the world. For anyone who has ever seen a 100 Greatest Films list put together by critics (as opposed to audiences), there’s not a lot of surprises, which is to say: There’s no Shawshank Redemption or Fight Club or The Usual Suspectson the list, though there are a few movies on the top 100 that made frequent appearances on our great movies you hate list diversion (chief among them Forrest Gump and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

There’s also very little comedy on the list (only Groundhog Day, among modern comedies, and there’s no other Bill Murray representation, including Ghostbusters). I’m not hating, mind you: This is what a critic’s list is supposed to look like.

However, while I’m not surprised that that there are only six films from the 21st century on the list, I am a little surprised by which six films they are:

99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

My first thought was, “That’s it?”, but then again, I can’t think of any American movies from the 21st Century that truly belong on the list (of 21st century films internationally, only City of God and Children of Men strike me as necessary inclusions). Given some distance, maybe a few more may seem worthy, but I wouldn’t be inclined yet to include Inglourious Bastards or even WALL·E or Boyhood. Then again, I also would not have included Tree of Life, because:


Note, however, that only 12 Years a Slave won an Oscar for best picture, while Mulholland Drive, Eternal Sunshine, 25th Hour, and The Dark Knight weren’t even nominated in that category.

Check out the full list over on the BBC’s site. Can you think of any 21st century films that truly deserve inclusion among the ones list above?

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.