The BBC asked me to contribute my top ten list of the 21st Century's greatest films. It wasn't easy. These lists never are. But lists aren't definitive, obviously -- they work best to stir up discussion and debate. And internal debate as well (I wanted a few ties. One more Paul Thomas Anderson, one more Lars von Trier, one for Quentin Tarantino and the glorious Kill Bill).
If you know me, you know what my number one choice was. If you know me ever better you know what my number two choice was. My number two added up to the number one among all 177 world critics polled (read all of the individual lists here). And I wrote about that picture here, among the 25 of the best chosen (OK, it was David Lynch's Mulholland Dr.)
Here's my list -- for now:
1. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
2. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
3. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011) [Tie: Antichrist, 2009]
4. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) [Tie: The Master, 2012]
5. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)
6. Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat, 2001)
7. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
8. Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000) [Tie: Kill Bill: Vol 1, 2003]
9. The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
10. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, 2009)
And...here's my BBC writeup of the number one movie, Mulholland Dr:
WH Auden called Los Angeles “the great wrong place”. James Ellroy called it “the great right place”. The idea that two, or more, seemingly conflicting ideas can simultaneously be true is so often forgotten in the zero-sum culture of today, but it’s at the heart of David Lynch’s empathetic masterpiece. Mulholland Drive came to us haunted. It was a rejected TV pilot, reportedly turned down because of its confusing narrative, actresses ludicrously deemed too old, disturbing images and Old Hollywood star Ann Miller sucking on a cigarette. By design, Lynch was already echoing the Hollywood dream machine and the idea that movies reflect our own dreams – perhaps knowing all along this fever dream could only flower on the big screen. Mulholland Drive is a reverie of sex, suicide and “silencio”. It’s also America, the beautiful and the bizarre, its romanticism, dysfunction, cruelty and absurdity. We love movies. The world loves movies. But America’s often freakish, surreal desperation towards ‘glamour’ when upturned can be as ugly and as horrifying as a nightmare – and the nightmare set at Winkie’s Diner in Mulholland Drive is one of the most terrifying moments put on film. Lynch’s film is so gorgeous and so painful, so mysterious and, in many ways, so recognizable – drive on the actual road, Mulholland, at night, and then walk from Western to Vermont, and you’ll see – that, whatever theory you ascribe to it, the picture does indeed reflect a reality that moves beyond southern California and parks itself in our brains, tapping into our dreams, deepest fears, inscrutable natures, erotic desires, pool boys and dumped paint on jewelry...