The Guardian's 100 best films of the 21st century - The Hits and Misses

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Peter Bradshaw, Cath Clarke, Andrew Pulver and Catherine Shoard have picked a list of 100 Best Films of the 21st century for The Guardian. The only Indian movie to have found a place on the list is Anurag Kashyap's 2012 crime film Gangs of Wasseypur (I am glad they consider the two parts as a single film as that's how the film is meant to be seen as). Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 film There Will Be Blood has interestingly topped the list. You can read Peter Bradshaw's detailed piece on why it is their No 1 here. Now, I have great respect for Peter. His love for cinema is nothing but contagious. Though his writings and vlogs he really keeps us hooked. Also, I have no doubt whatsoever that a lot of thought would have gone into preparing this list of 100 best films for The Guardian. As a matter of fact, I dare say that the list is much better than what the BBC and IndieWire have managed in the recent times. 

Now, I really get disappointed when I see lists that are heavily biased towards the American and British films. The Guardian critics stand vindicated on this front as one can't really complain when films like Cache, In the Mood for Love, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Zama, The Act of Killing, Shoplifters, Roma, The Great Beauty, Yi Yi, Leviathan, Volver, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Russian Ark, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Gomorrah, A Prophet, Amores Perros, and Burning find a place on anyone's Top 100 list. Also, I know that you cannot possibly hope to satisfy anyone when you put together such a list. Having said that every time I see a glaring inconsistency I find it very difficult not to talk about it. Since every Top 100 usually begins with the 100th pick it is natural that it will catch your attention before anything else. As far as The Guardian's list is concerned the No 100 is Quentin Tarantino's latest offering Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Now, the other films made by Tarantino in this millennium are Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2, Deathproof, Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. By picking Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ahead of some of these other films Peter and team have made a serious error in judgement. And I strongly believe that they are in the minority here. 

There have made a similar error by picking There Will Be Blood ahead of The Master. I personally like There Will Be Blood a lot but gradually I have come to realize that it is a much weaker work in comparison to The Master. In fact, it is quite one-dimensional as opposed to The Master which has way more to offer. Moreover, neither of the two films deserve the top spot and certainly not There Will Be Blood. Just try watching the two films back to back and you will know why There Will Be Blood is much inferior to The Master. But what really perplexes me is how can you seriously put any of them ahead of Terrence Malick's masterwork The Tree of Life? Also, here I must make it clear that I am no The Dark Knight fan. The Christopher Nolan film is placed at No 98. The funny thing is that there is no MementoWe are talking of the 21st century and the grammar of cinema is fast changing; special effects have become an integral part of filmmaking. And yet the list overlooks visually groundbreaking films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar, or Blade Runner 2049. Clearly, it is more than an oversight. I just can't understand how come The Dark Knight or even Gladiator (placed at No 94) are more important films as far as the 21st century is concerned.

Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of the Wall Street finds a place at No 43 but not Silence or Hugo. Also, it is so heartbreaking to not find the likes of Mysteries of Lisbon, Embrace of the Serpent, and The Pearl Button, especially when can find a place for The Social Network and Ocean's Eleven. Also, there is no doubt in my mind that Rahi Anil Barve's Tumbbad deserves to be on this list and certainly ahead of Gangs of Wasseypur. Perhaps, The Guardian critics haven't watched it yet. I hope they do so after reading this. It appears they have also not scene the likes of Tithi, Court, and Ship of Theseus, among others. Also, I feel sad that films by Naomi Kawase, Carlos Reygadas, and Semih Kaplanoğlu have been left out. I am a bit skeptical that Dogville is really the best film made by Lars von Trier in the 21st century. I am sure that there are many out there who would agree with me. Another big shock is that Steven Spielberg's Lincoln finds a spot on the list but A.I. Artificial Intelligence is missing. There seems to be a clear bias towards one Daniel Day Lewis. Another major film missing is Andrew Dominik's magnificent revisionist western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Perhaps, they seem to have also forgotten that David Cronenberg made two of his greatest masterworks Eastern Promises and A History of Violence in the first decade of the 21st century. 

Now, I can go on and on but I think I should stop here. I must make it clear that it is not my intention to reprimand Peter and other critics. In fact, I am really happy that they have done a much better job that what the critics at BBC and IndieWire had managed. But then that's what we all expect from The Guardian. Don't we? 
Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

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