Over the last century, thousands of films have hit screens all over the world. However, not every one was a hit. Critics have always given their unbiased opinion, putting into consideration a number of factors. So, which are the greatest films to hit screens over the last 25 years? Here is a list of critics’ choices:
1. Mulholland Drive
David Lynch’s masterpiece, Mulholland Drive, was initially rejected as a TV pilot. The film is a reverie of silence, sex and suicide. It is gorgeous, mysterious and painful, yet so recognizable. The picture, upon reflection, reveals a reality that moves beyond southern California.
It tests out brains, taps into our deepest fears, dreams and erotic desires. – Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun, US.
2. In the Mood for Love
This is a movie that has managed to draw most of its melancholy power from the things that are left off-screen. The spouses of the two lonely neighbors are never brought out. The sex scene shot by Wong Kar-wai was also omitted.
Never before has a film spoken so fluently in the universal language of loss and desire. – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times.
3. There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson’s film doesn’t feel like it was filmed; it feels like it was forged. Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) crawls into a hole and winds up discovering oil.
The movie tells a story of greed, industry and moral hypocrisy. – Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post, US.
4. Spirited Away
Visual sophistication makes this animation film stand out, as it elaborates themes of courage, determination and good cheer. Hayao Miyazaki tells the story of a girl imprisoned in the spirit world as she tries to rescue her parents.
A traditional fairy tale underwent a transformation into an exciting narrative. – Tasha Robinson, The Verge, US.
This film took most of the 21st century to create. Spending more than a decade, Richard Linklater followed the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane). The movie starts with Mason in first grade and ends with him graduating high school. In between, Linklater goes deep into survey of modern life. The authenticity of letting the story and characters evolve is one that cannot be matched.
Linklater slowed down in an accelerating society to tell a definitive story that is unique in our time. – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush, US.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This is a story if a breakup gone wrong. It is a layered and head-spinning screenplay. Jim Carrey works hard to portray a perennially sad man caught up in his grievances and eagerly awaiting their unraveling. Also, Kate Winslet’s decision to erase all the memories of the ex-couple together creates the drama in the plot.
The movie grapples with the one instability that hits human relationships: achieving a powerful and wise vision. – Eric Kohn, Indiewire, US.
7. The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life, like a great poem, is open to a thousand interpretations. The film takes the audience through a lyrical and spiritual journey through time. The film stars Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.
The joys as well as pain of parenting become apparent. – Kate Muir, The Times, UK.
8. Yi Yi
Edward Yang’s film, Yi Yi, captured the attention of viewers in 2000 through its portrayal of contemporary life through the stories of members of a Taipei family. The family was separated dilemmas unique to their stations in life.
Yi Yi is a meticulous film that features detailed moods and rituals that are in line with the characters and their customs. – Oggs Cruz, Rappler, Philippines.
9. A Separation
This is a film that make you take a deep look in the mirror over and over again. Asghar Farhadi’s relationship drama dies not pass judgement on its characters. The movie successfully pitches the situation in a way that leaves the viewer sympathizing with both protagonists, despite being pitted against each other.
Most viewers reflect on their own lives while watching this film, an unparalleled cinematic morality play. – Utpal, Borpujari, Freelance, India.
10. No Country for Old Men
The film by Javier Bardem contains powerful and overwhelming in the application of violence to the point that it extinguishes whatever proceeded it in the mind of those watching.
The film, set in 1980 in West Texas, has a hypnotic quality to the pace of the movie. – Ben Mankiewicz, TCM, US.
11. Inside Llewyn Davis
The film follows a messy haired loner who uses his guitar to try and show the world he’s got talent. However, no one cares and no one wants to give him a chance. David (Oscar Isaac) is trying to make his mark after his musical partner decides to take his own path and go solo. Along the journey, he comes across others looking for similar success or just trying to survive.
The film is a solemn song for those trying to become somebody. – Monica Castillo, The New York Times
Zodiak is a true crime movie by David Fincher. It follows a newspaper cartoonist who was obsessed by Zodiac murders in the 1970s. the film pulses with jittery energy. Zodiac does an excellent job of dragging viewers into a compulsive world where the biggest clue could be as big as the smallest hint. It also portrays the obsessive’s worst nightmare: answers are utterly unattainable in the end.
Gloriously detail-driven, Zodiac drags viewers into a compulsive world where the smallest hint can be the biggest clue, and it presents the obsessive’s worst nightmare: that, in the end, answers are utterly unattainable. – Devin Faraci, BirthMoviesDeath, US
13. Children of Men
This staggering adaptation of PD James’ novel by Alfonso Cuarón’s is a picture that astounds with technical marvels in camera technology. It is also rich in emotion and psychology. Even though it was overlooked in its initial release, the film is now a cult favorite for those grappling with dread for modern civilization.
In the end, there exists transcendent hope. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair, US.
14. The Act of Killing
The end of the film brings Anwar Congo to terms with his heinous crimes. He is a gangster responsible for the murders of close to 1,000 people in Indonesia following a military coup in 1965-66. Even though it is not clear if the crying and sobbing is real, many want to believe it is and that there is justice for the over one million people butchered at the time. This is the hidden drive in Joshua Oppenheimer’s debut feature.
The film is a perfect example of national amnesia, the questionable morality of truth-seeking and the power of self-deceit. – Joseph Fahim, Freelance, Egypt.
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
The film by Cristian Mungiu is an exemplary film featuring visual precision, glacial detachment and a clear-eyed script. With abortion still a crime in 1980s Romania, Mungiu brings out the repressive and callous atmosphere of Ceausescu’s foundering dictatorship.
The unbeatable spirit of Otila, a college student, brings out the film’s underlying humanism. – Maggie Lee, Variety, Hong Kong.
16. Holy Motors
The movie revolves around a man being driven around in a limousine, adopting different personas and disguises while connecting and disconnecting with people who come across his path. It is a portrayal of everything that matters to director Leos Carax about cinema. After struggling to get financing, Holy Motors is Carax’s first feature in 13 years.
Here is a film that is exasperating, frustrating, anarchic and in a constant state of renewal. It’s not tame.- Roger Ebert, US
17. Pan’s Labyrinth
No year was more auspicious for Mexican directors than 2006. The year saw the Guillermo Del Toro go back to his roots. His film takes a look at the horrors of war. The power of the film lies in the purity it possesses.
The most terrible thing to imagine is what we can do to each other. – Ana Maria, Freelance, Brazil.
18. The White Ribbon
The setting is a north Germany village, months before World War One. Haneke casts doubt on the myth of childhood innocence, as the film is a story of children who work together as silent perpetrators of crimes.
In line with Haneke’s other films, malice and guilt are in the air, with no one particularly to blame. – Fernanda Solorzano, Letras Libres Magazine, Mexico.
19. Mad Max: Fury Road
This is a dialed up modern blockbuster by George Miller. It is a cohesive vision revolving around a structured journey built around endurance and survival. The film, cast in silver and gold, plays a major role in redefining auteurism in mainstream cinema. Miller creates a proper blend of the environment, well-crafted machines and scorched landscapes.
When one of Furiosa’s wards goes into labor and still defends herself and her yet-to-be-born child (after being shot no less), it’s hard not to see “Fury Road” as an answer to the macho nonsense that so often defines the action genre. – Roger Ebert, US
20. Synecdoche, New York
The movie is the work of Charlie Kaufman, who was approached to do a horror film. Instead of the obvious culprits such as monsters in horror movies, Charlie chose a different route. Even though this masterpiece by Kaufmann is not joyful, it is not short of wild ambition and immense empathy.
It is a reminder that we are never alone, even in our lowest and darkest moments. – Angie Han, Slashfilm, US.
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel
It is a film that bids farewell to the past century. It takes the audience back in time to 1985 to 1968 to 1932, with Monsieur Gustave, Ralph Fiennes’ concierge, ushering the audience into proper civilization with a nod. Gustave’s perfect world is coming to destruction. The Grand Budapest Hotel embodies his craftsmanship. Gustave’s lamps represent mankind’s hope to shine bright in the darkness.
This tragicomedy enlists the audience in the fight for beauty. – Amy Nicholson, MTV, US.
22. Lost in Translation
Please stop trying to figure out what Bill Murray says to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Sofia Coppola’s beautiful and ineffably bittersweet second film; the words don’t matter, and the moment is only so powerful because you can’t hear them. Sofia Coppola, the reigning empress of cinematic ennui in the 21st century, always uses celebrity to show the loneliness that is there between private lives and public images.
The last goodbye in this film is what makes this movie perfect, one that clearly shows what is means to live in a world that rarely lets you forget the place you are. – David Ehrlich, Indiewire, US.
Just like the rest of Michael Haneke’s films, Cachè follows a Parisian couple, Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche who start getting disturbing video tapes that show their home. As the plot unfolds, individual and collective guilt, interior and exterior conflict become one. The film makes you face an individual made to face the historical crimes of his country.
The film makes for a supreme political and cinematic movie. – Hannah Pilarczyk, Der Spiegel, Germany.
24. The Master
This powerful, ambitious and elegiac masterpiece from Paul Thomas Anderson revolves on the age old question: is man, in fact, an animal? Following his return from World War 2, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) tries unsuccessfully to blend in with the post-war social revolution in America. He eventually finds solace in Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an urban cult leader. The real point of the film is to explore thought and consciousness. Repeat viewings clearly indicate that this film was Hoffman’s apotheosis.
If it weren’t sad, it would be apt and funny. – Ali Arikan, Dipnot TV, Turkey.
Christopher Nolan’s Memento is a film that follows the story of a man who can’t form new memories as he goes on a frantic search of his wife’s killers. It is an airtight puzzle movie that set the standard for narrative sophistication, a standard that has remained unmatched to date. Its challenging structure involves starting with the final scene and working backwards to the beginning. The film brings into consideration the unreliability of human memory and our affinity for self-deception. The existential tragedy comes masked as a twisty bit of pulp action.
It is unforgettable. – Eric D Snider, Freelance, US.