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The 100 best movies of the century so far - Part I, with trailers




We asked you to name your top five films released since 2000 via our website. We’ve counted up the votes and here we present the first 50 movies in our countdown. How many have you seen?

Don’t miss part II in the Cambridge Independent, out from June 3, when we’ll reveal your favourite 50 films of the century.

100. Utøya: July 22

Erik Poppe’s film tells the story of the awful day that a right-wing extremist massacred 69 young people on the Norwegian island of Utøya, after carrying out a bomb attack in Oslo.

Voting for it, Russell King told us: “It shows the fear but also the bravery of the young people under extreme pressure. It is very hard to watch but, wonderfully, the actual killer is seen only a couple of times in shadowy longshot, rendering him like a footnote, rather than the centre of attention. This film redresses the media imbalance around the story by placing the heroism of the victims centre-stage, where it belongs to be.”

99. Fish Tank

A favourite of our columnist Paul Kirkley, who said: “This gritty drama, set among the run-down tower blocks of an Essex council estate, marked director Andrea Arnold out as a more nuanced, less annoying Ken Loach. Newcomer Katie Jarvis gives a phenomenal lead performance as troubled teenager Mia, in a gut-wrenching study of the ever-narrowing horizons that conspire to stop Britain’s underclasses even daring to dream of a better life.”

98. The Shape of Water

Earning director Guillermo del Toro the gong for Best Director in 2018 – one of three Oscars it won – this strange and magical movie is set in a top secret research facility in Maryland in 1962, where a cleaner forms a relationship with a humanoid, amphibious creature held in captivity.

97. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

A Japanese anime from visionary director Masaaki Yuasa, this tells the story of a girl who goes on a surreal night of drinking and partying, while on a quest to find a children’s book she once loved. Pursued by a student who is infatuated with her, this unique adventure becomes hallucinogenic at times.

96. Atonement

A teenager accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit, leading to far-reaching consequences in Joe Wright’s 2007 romantic war drama, which stars James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. Based on an Ian McEwan novel, it won the Bafta for Best Film and Best Drama at the Golden Globes.

95. Brokeback Mountain

A triple Oscar winner, including one for Ang Lee as Best Director, this romantic drama focuses on the emotional and sexual relationship between two cowboys, played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

94. Children of Men

A dystopian sci-fi from Alfonso Cuarón and starring Clive Owen, this is set in 2027, when society is on the verge of collapse after decades of human infertility.

93. Before Sunset

The 2004 sequel to 1995’s Before Sunrise, also directed by Richard Linklater, it returns to the story of an American man, played by Ethan Hawke, and French woman, played by Julie Delpy, who spend an afternoon together – nine years on from a night of passion.

92. Batman Begins

Director Chrisopher Nolan was handed the task of reflighting an ailing Batman franchise – and began in style with this darker, more emotional story, featuring Christian Bale in the Bat-suit.

91. Lion

One of the highest-grossing Australian films of all time, this tells the true story of how Saroo Brierley, played by Dev Patel, sets out to find his family, 25 years after being separated from them in India.

90. The Social Network

A critics’ favourite, this 2010 David Fincher dramatisation of how Facebook was formed explores how Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest billionaire in history – but not without creating some enemies along the way.

89. The Incredibles

Funny, smart and inventive, this 2004 animation about superheroes who were trying to live as civilians is a Pixar classic.

88. The Act of Killing

Our film critic, Mark Liversidge, described this as a “stunning indictment of Indonesian death-squad leaders as they re-enact their crimes”.

87. Oldboy

A gritty, violent 2003 South Korean movie in which a man kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years is released, but must find his captor in five days.

86. City of God

A 2002 Brazilian crime drama, this explores a true story from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s.

85. Irreversible

Gaspar Noé writes and directs this reverse-chronological tale of a night in Paris, where a woman is raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass.

Russell King told us: “Irreversible is a shocking film about a hideous crime, but what makes it an astounding watch is the way that the story is rendered, starting with its aftermath and then reversing through time to the crime itself and then to the events beforehand. The idyllic closing of the movie is heartbreaking due to what we know is to come.”

84. King Kong

Peter Jackson has fun in the director’s chair, teaming up once more with Andy Serkis, who with motion capture helps bring the angry ape to life once more.

83. Love Actually

This Richard Curtis rom-com features more than a dozen main characters played by an ensemble cast including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley.

82. Four Lions

Smarter than it sounds, Christopher Morris’ comedy features four Jihadists hatching an inept plot to become suicide bombers.

81. The Emperor’s New Groove

Emperor Kuzco gets what’s coming to him when he is turned into a llama in this short but hilarious Disney animation.

80. Black Panther

The first entry in our list for the Marvel juggernaut is Ryan Coogler’s celebration of black culture, starring Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, king of the advanced African nation Wakanda.

79. I Wish

A 2011 Japanese movie directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, starring real-life brothers playing siblings who dream of reuniting their family.

78. The Bourne Supremacy

Paul Greengrass directs this sophisticated action flick – the second in the series – starring Matt Damon as former CIA assassin Jason Bourne.

77. Billy Elliot

Amid the 1980s miners’ strike, a working class lad discovers he loves ballet. Director Stephen Daldry wrings every drop of laughter and tears from the premise.

76. The Hurt Locker

Winner of six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow – the only woman to have taken home that gong – this is a tense, compelling war drama.

75. Lost in Translation

Charles Hughes tells us: “Lost In Translation features Bill Murray at his most sardonic and is directed by Sofia Coppola at the height of her powers.” Coppola also wrote the story of the

unlikely bond that forms in Tokyo between Murray’s ageing movie star and a college graduate, played by Scarlett Johansson.

74. In This Corner of the World

A 2016 Japanese anime set in Hirishoma in the Second World War, in which an 18-year-old marries and must look after her family.

73. Call Me By Your Name

Luca Guadagnin’s 2017 coming-of-age drama tells the story of romance between a 17-year-old student and an older man in 1980s Italy.

72. Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve’s sumptuous-looking sci-fi brings the 1980s classic up to date as young Blade Runner K tracks down Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for 30 years. Andrew Ormiston, from Cambridgeshire, praised it for being “visually stunning” and admired its “eerie” soundtrack.

71. Shoplifters

Hirokazu Kore-eda wrote, directed and edited this 2018 Japanese drama about a group that relies on shoplifting to cope with poverty.

70. 1917

Sam Mendes’ hard-hitting First World War epic takes us into the brutality of trench warfare for two hours.

69. The King’s Speech

Filmed partly in Ely, Tom Hooper’s 2010 historical drama stars Colin Firth as King George VI trying to overcome his stammering problem.

68. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci-fi is immersive and thought-provoking as it explores the race to find a new habitable world.

67. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s first entry in our top 100 is his 2012 revisionist Western, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio.

66. Coco

Pixar left our film critic sobbing for 15 minutes with this animation set around the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday.

65. Mad Max: Fury

There was a long wait for George Miller post-apocalyptic visceral action film but it was well worth it – as it was given Empire film magazine’s number one movie of the century so far earlier this year.

64. Toy Story 3

Set in a day care centre for children, Woody, Buzz and the gang proved they could do no wrong in Pixar’s hands in this third instalment of the animated series, the first to make over $1bn for the studio.

63. Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa)

Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, this touching Japanese animated film features two teenagers trading bodies and lives.

62. The Greatest Showman

Hugh Jackman stars in director Michael Gracey’s debut, an original musical inspired by the life of P T Barnum.

61. Finding Dory

Pixar does it again with this 2016 follow-up to 2003’s Finding Nemo, featuring an amnesiac fish seeking to be reunited with her parents.

61. The Painted Veil

Naomi Watts and Edward Norton star in this 2006 drama from John Curran, following a doctor who discovers his wife’s affair, and demands she joins him as he tackles a cholera epidemic in China.

59. Stardust

Matthew Vaughn’s fantasy tells the tale of young man who promises to venture into a magical realm to retrieve a fallen star for his beloved.

58. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Fifteen years ago to the month, George Lucas concluded the Star Wars prequel trilogy with this, perhaps the best of the three – despite Hayden Christensen struggling to live up to the job of depicting Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader.

57. Finding Neverland

Marc Forster’s 2004 fantasy drama takes us into the world of playwright J M Barrie and explores his relationship with the family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

56. Sideways

Directed by Alexander Payne, this comedy features two men approaching middle age, with not much to show for it, who venture on a road-trip before one of them is due to marry.

55. Zodiac

David FIncher’s brilliantly-crafted murder mystery tells the true story of the Zodiac Killer and a cartoonist’s obsession with tracking him down.

54. The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino’s second entry in our list is his 2015 character-driven western featuring eight strangers seeking refuge from a storm.

53. The Theory of Everything

Telling the story of Cambridge’s own Professor Stephen Hawking, James Marsh’s 2015 biopic features a brilliant lead performance from Eddie Redmayne.

52. Minority Report

Steven Spielberg’s 2002 thrilling and ambitious sci-fi, starring Tom Cruise, is set in a future where technology enables police to catch criminals before a crime is committed.

51. The Farewell

Poignant but funny, this 2019 Lulu Wang drama is centred on a Chinese family who discover their grandmother only has a short while left to live, but decide not to tell her.

Read more

Best movies of the century so far: The editor’s top 10, with trailers

Best movies of the century so far: Mark Liversidge’s top 10

Best movies of the century so far: Paul Kirkley’s top picks and a chance to vote for yours

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