100 Greatest Films of 21st Century: A Critical Examination of BBC's Lopsided List

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BBC, 100 Greatest Films of 21st Century, An Critical Examination of BBC's Lopsided List

BBC has recently released a list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century i.e. from the year 2000 onwards. The list is selected by a panel of 177 international film critics including the ones from India. To say the least, I am utterly disappointed with the picks. More than anything, the list reflects the jury's lack of understanding of the contemporary world cinema. The choices made by some of the Indian critics, with all due respect to them, are almost hilarious. So I have endeavored to write this piece with the hope of examining what actually went wrong. 

A cursory observation of the list tells us that it is heavily lopsided in Hollywood's favor. The influence of IMDb Top 250 cannot be denied. Unfortunately, the jury seems to have given greater weightage to popularity vis-a-vis cinematic merit. Perhaps, it is because of the jury’s lack of exposure to the best of contemporary cinema. Or maybe it is a case of lack of understanding of the contemporary world cinema on the part of the eminent jury members. After all, one cannot expect all 177 of them to be well versed with the recent developments in cinema. They don’t teach that at school. Do they? Even in film appreciation classes, contemporary cinema is seldom touched upon. Whatever may be the case, the end result is a disaster. 

The moment you see a film like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ on a major ‘Top 100’ list, you begin to sense something fishy. And then you suddenly spot ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, viola, all your hopes are dashed! Wait, the list also has ‘Carol’, ‘Spotlight’, ‘Brooklyn’, and ‘Her’! What I call an insult to injury. Another disturbing trend that I noticed in the list is that while the lesser works of some directors found a place, the better ones were omitted. Even a village idiot would put ‘The Departed’ (even though it is remake) ahead of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. While Claire Denis’ ‘White Material’ has found a place on the list, her far superior work ‘The Intruder’ is missing. Similarly, some of the better Lars von Trier films are missing.

We are in the 21st century and the grammar of cinema is fast changing; the special effects have become an integral part of filmmaking. And yet the list seems to be missing on other visually groundbreaking films like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, ‘Avatar’ and ‘Hugo’. Clearly, it is more than an oversight. 

The jury also seems to have overlooked some very important filmmakers working today like Mike Leigh, Naomi Kawase, Carlos Regadas, Giuseppe Tornatore, and Semih Kaplanoglu. The greatest shock, as far as I am concerned, is the absence of the late Chilean master filmmaker Raoul Ruiz’ ‘Mysteries of Lisbon’ which is believed by many to be the first and the only true epic of the 21st century.

If one looks closely at the poll results, one observes that while some of the jury members voted very intelligently, a larger section voted rather casually. Take the case of the jury members from India. Of the 5 voters, two seems to have cast their votes without applying much thought. While their bias towards Indian films is pretty understandable, what is really strange is their tilt towards Hindi cinema. One expects better than that from seasoned film critics. If critics act so casually, one cannot really blame the audience for their deteriorating tastes. Can we? 

But every cloud has a silver lining. While there are certain deserving films that are expected to be there on such a list (such as There Will Be Blood, Pan's Labyrinth, The Great Beauty, etc.), it is quite heartening to see, in particular, films like ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’, ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’, ‘The Return’, ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’, ‘A History of Violence’, ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’, ‘The Tree of Life’, ‘The Turin Horse’, ‘Leviathan’, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, and ‘Certified Copy’. Hopefully, next time BBC will come up with a better compilation of ‘Top 100’ films. Perhaps, they can take a leaf out of this eclectic list created by film blogger Jugu Abraham.



Finally, let’s first check out the 100 films on the BBC list:

100. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
100. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)
100. Carlos (Olivier Assayas, 2010)
99. The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)
98. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002)
97. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009)
96. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)
95. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)
94. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
93. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)
92. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
91. The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella, 2009)
90. The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002)
89. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
88. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)
87. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
86. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)
85. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, 2009)
84. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
83. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)
82. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)
81. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
80. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003)
79. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
78. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
77. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)
76. Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)
75. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
74. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012)
73. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
72. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013)
71. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012)
70. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)
69. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
68. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
67. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)
66. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003)
65. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
64. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)
63. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
62. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
61. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)
60. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
59. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
58. Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembène, 2004)
57. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)
56. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, director; Ágnes Hranitzky, co-director, 2000)
55. Ida (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2013)
54. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
53. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)
52. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
51. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)
50. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015)
49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014)
48. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015)
47. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)
46. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
45. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
44. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
43. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
42. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)
41. Inside Out (Pete Docter, 2015)
40. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
39. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
38. City of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002)
37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
36. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014)
35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
34. Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015)
33. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
32. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
31. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
30. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
29. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
28. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)
27. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)
26. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
25. ​Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
17. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your insightful comments are highly appreciated!


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7 comments:

  1. A film like 'Hey Ram!' deserved to be on this list... unfortunately, the Indian critics voted without putting much thought.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am dev-astated ! Guru-dev Nolan is in 3 times but no "INTERSTELLAR" ? Obviously BBC loves its own lot more ...how can anyone make a spaced out film 🎥 better than Stanley Saheb ? Cuaron is pulled in but not by "Gravity", although Sandra sits on my lap top like a queen 👑 that can bull ride any disaster - herein or thereafter and back, Jessica Chastain who rides a chariot in space 🚀 like 👍 a goddess is ignored. Also sits there, on my laptop, that is, "Wolf", hammering in its steep criticism of the American market - rot, pink stock and bearell - which the Brits love ❤ to do, off & on & most other times. Let's just get used to the fact that a ranking only reveals the peculiar taste of the sponsor and/or titler, and that is the best use to put it to....savour that stiff upper lippy taste. To get all knotted up 👆 in the stomach because some Bharatiya bolly molly tolly e-coli good golly film 🎥 lolly did not make it to the BBC ranks ranks of a certain ganwarish local yokel's despo desire 😣 to be vocal global on someone else's platform just because hum kuchh kuchh type ke trains banate hain aka the 'Chatan-Peirs Syndrome'. Angrezo ke saath munh kyon lagte Ho Ho Ho bhaya...apna ranking kyon nahin bana lete...koi padhega kya...woh apna he Sur kaat lete hain...Queen 👑 ke Sir Ridley ko to mention hi nahin kiya...tum apne prejudices se bahar as sakte Ho Ho Ho kya? To be accepted by the wide wide film 🎥 and not phillum world?

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I am dev-astated ! Guru-dev Nolan is in 3 times but no "INTERSTELLAR" ? Obviously BBC loves its own lot more ...how can anyone make a spaced out film �� better than Stanley Saheb ? Cuaron is pulled in but not by "Gravity", although Sandra sits on my lap top like a queen �� that can bull ride any disaster - herein or thereafter and back, and Jessica Chastain who rides a chariot in space �� like �� a goddess is ignored. Also sits there, on my laptop, that is, "Wolf", hammering in its steep criticism of the American market - rot, pink stock and bearell - which the Brits love ❤ to do, off & on & most other times, since the W.W., particularly 2. Let's just get used to the fact that a ranking only reveals the peculiar taste of the sponsor and/or titler, and that is the best use to put it to....savour that stiff upper lippa lippy taste. To get all knotted up �� in the stomach because some Bharatiya bolly molly tolly e-coli good golly film �� lolly did not make it to the BBC ranks ranks of a certain ganwarish local yokel's despo desire �� to be vocal global on someone else's platform just because hum kuchh kuchh type ke trains banate hain aka the 'Chatan-Peirs Syndrome', air hamein unke platform no.1 pe chadne ke liye izzazat ke hakdaar hain hum. Arrey, in Angrezo ke munh kyon lagte Ho Ho Ho, bhaya...apna ranking kyon nahin bana lete...koi padhega kya? Woh to apna he Sur kaat lete hain...Queen �� ke Sir Ridley ko to mention hi nahin kiya...tum apne prejudices se bahar aa sakte Ho Ho Ho kya? To be accepted by the wide wide film �� , and not phillum, world?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. ANTICIPATING "ANNVIND HAZRIWAL" ?
    THIS IS HOW CINEMA BLINKS IN INDIA & FAILS TO BE A DRIVING FORCE IN THE MAKING OF THE NATION OR EVEN THE MAKING OF A MOVIE OR EVEN MAKING OF A RELIABLE BIOPIC. HERO WORSHIP CONTINUES UNABASHEDLY, LIES ABOUND AND REBOUND ON THE COUNTRY AND THE INDIVIDUAL IS WORSHIPPED ON A PEDESTAL OF FALSEHOOD. AND THIS IS BLATANTANTLY DONE IN FRONT OF OUR EYES WHEN WE KNOW THE TRUTH IS OTHERWISE AND ELSEWHERE. SHUBRA GUPTA WHO REVIEWS FILMS , SOME LONG AFTER THE FACT, FOR INDIAN EXPRESS AND PUTS A SPIN ON THEM AT FILM CLUB GET-TOGETHERS SHOULD BE SPENDING MORE TIME ON SUCH ANTICIPATED OBFUSCATION MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR SUCH MISINFORMATION TO GET EVEN AN AUDIENCE OF ONE. BUT THEN FILM �� CRITICISM, SUCH AS FILM �� MAKING IS DEAD IN INDIA....AND YET WE WANT TO FIGURE IN THE BEST 100 AND/OR 1000 LIST OF BBC PICKS! WHAT UNPRINCIPLED CINEMATIC ARROGANCE. (The title is meant to evoke the TRUTH that Anna & Arvind are joined @ the hip & one cannot be understood without the other...this is not about twins who are born together but go their separate ways, but about one being the consequence of the other and vice versa, such that neither can survive without the other). EVEN IF GLOBAL RANKINGS SHOULD WISH TO FEATURE OUR FILMS THEY'D BALK AT THE TOUGHT FOR NEVER KNOWING IF OUR FILMS ARE FICTION OR FACT OR DOCUMENTS OR DUDS...AKA SOAP SUDS!

    "Those looking forward to see Anna Hazare’s biopic titled Anna, which was in the making for more than three-and-half years should brace for a big disappointment as far as an important aspect of the activist’s life is concerned. Arvind Kejriwal, for...

    The Indian Express - 30 August 2016

    http://a.msn.com/r/2/AAidSgX?a=1&m=EN-IN"

    - nataranjan bohidar 9811112220
    Film Critic & Contributing Editor @
    A Potpourri of Vestiges.
    THE BIOPIC IN A DEMOCRACY WITHIN A CONTINUUM . Actually that should be the BIOPICON in a Democracy within a Continuum.

    ReplyDelete

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