100 Best Movies of the 21st Century From One Critic in San Diego

eternal sunshine PHOTO

I hate making lists, unless there are some ground rules. For example, in the movie High Fidelity, they don’t just name the five best songs. It’s the “five best ‘break-up’ songs.” That’s a lot more fun and a lot less subjective.

Yet I had to write this list, because when the BBC came out with a list of the top 100 movies of the 21st Century (by asking 177 film critics across the world), I couldn’t control my rage. It’s baffling to see movies like Tree of Life, Shame, Inherent Vice, Carol…just pretentious garbage. Movies that had a few great scenes, but weren’t great films (Moulin Rouge, The Grand Budapest Hotel). And how in the world can Mad Max be on such a list? It was a bunch of cars and guns in the desert, with no plot.

Other movies, like Inside Llewyn Davis, were okay. I just couldn’t help but think it made the list because it was a Coen brothers picture. Aside from an outstanding performance by Oscar Isaac, and some good folk songs, there wasn’t much there.

After I had a BBC radio station interview me to talk about this list, as well as a few other stations from around the world, from Australia to San Francisco, I thought I’d do my own list.

I decided not to put in documentaries. At least 10 spots would’ve been filled by those choices (I’m looking at you, Man on Wire and The Act of Killing).

And unlike other lists, I’ll start with the best first. I mean, you would’ve just scrolled to the bottom and seen it anyway.

  1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND — Kate Winslet got nominated for an Oscar. The rest of the cast is great (even Jim Carrey). But it’s Charles Kaufman’s amazing screenplay (he won the Oscar) that makes this film number one.
  2. EX MACHINA — Oscar Isaac, playing a drunk genius in such a subtle manner; this is a brilliantly conceived sci-fi film in every way.
  3. THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN — Why can’t a Judd Apatow comedy be on the list?
  4. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD — Marisa Tomei naked. Ethan Hawke in an amazing role, that blows Boyhood and anything else he’s ever done, out of the water! Albert Finney getting an Oscar nomination, and Sidney Lumet directing this at age 82. Wow.
  5. THIN ICE — the writer/director was mad about the edits the studio made to this. She shouldn’t be. Greg Kinnear plays a slimy insurance salesman; Alan Arkin is a foreigner that’s going to be duped. A terrific con movie. It may not be House of Games or The Sting, but it’s a movie that nobody knows about and is brilliant.
  6. MEMENTO — How can you start a movie showing the ending, with the bad guy being killed? Christopher Nolan wrote and directed, and of course, went on to bigger things.
  7. THE WRESTLER — Why did everyone call this Mickey Rourke’s comeback? He did Sin City before this (which makes this list). Brilliant, and depressing, movie.
  8. HEADHUNTERS — Don’t let subtitles scare you. This Norwegian movie felt like a Coen brothers film, but it’s better than anything they’ve done in years.
  9. THE WAY WAY BACK — The writer/directors (who had fun parts in it), won an Oscar writing the George Clooney movie The Descendants. This is way way better.
  10. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL — An indie teen comedy, that is surprisingly moving. Watching kids make film parodies on the great classics…should make this a must on any critics’ “best of” list.
  11. NIGHTCRAWLER — How this movie didn’t get Jake Gyllenhaal an Oscar nomination I’ll never know. Beautifully shot, interesting story. And who says there aren’t parts for older women in Hollywood? Rene Russo knocked it out of the park (of course, she’s married to the writer/director).
  12. IN THE BEDROOM — Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson as grieving parents; Marisa Tomei as the woman responsible for their son’s death. Amazing movie.
  13. I, ORIGINS — All the critics in the San Diego Film Critics Society gave me a hard time for loving this when it came out. A sci-fi story about reincarnation and eyeballs. The movie could’ve used more eyeballs seeing it in theaters, but you can always catch it now.
  14. MEAN GIRLS — Tina Fey, back when she was funny (she also wrote the screenplay)…Lindsay Lohan before she went crazy. A wonderful teen comedy.
  15. THE SQUID AND THE WHALE — I always look forward to Noah Baumbach movies. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney as very literary (but horrible) parents. A dark film about divorce; one of my friends hated the fact that the entire audience applauded when it ended. This isn’t for everyone.
  16. UP — First animated movie to make my list. Who would think showing a miscarriage in the first few minutes would be something you could do in a “kids” movie.
  17. ADAPTATION — No surprise that a Meryl Streep movie would be on the list, but a Nicolas Cage film? Heck, who are we kidding? This is a Charlie Kaufman movie (and he started off this list).
  18. MONSOON WEDDING — I’m not the biggest fan of director Mira Nair movies, but this film about a wedding in India — is simply beautiful.
  19. THE DARK KNIGHT — Why can’t a comic book movie be on the list? Heath Ledger wins an Oscar playing the Joker, and he wasn’t even my favorite character in the film.
  20. SIDEWAYS — It resurrected the career of Thomas Hayden Church, and put Paul Giamatti on the map. Why didn’t it lead to more work for Virginia Madsen? People always say the book was better. This novel was awful, but what a great picture.
  21. THE SQUARE — Directed by Nash Edgerton, starring his brother Joel (who went on to bigger and better things), this Australian thriller is just stunning. After my review, proclaiming it one of the best movies of the year, they said they were going to put my quote on the DVD box. A few years later I saw they had a similar quote on the box, but from Time magazine or some bigger publication. It was my favorite movie of 2008, and the only reason it wasn’t on more critics lists, is because they didn’t see it.
  22. THE HUNT — This Danish picture was nominated for an Oscar in the Foreign Film category. The story of a terrific teacher accused by an angry 2nd grade girl of molesting her. What happens when the town decides he’s guilty…is something that will stick with you for years.
  23. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (pick which version)
  24. BURN AFTER READING — The Coen brothers’ better comedies are The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona. They’ve done a few comedies that were dreadful (The Man Who Wasn’t There and Intolerable Cruelty). I ended up seeing this four times at the theater, always bringing different friends and family members.
  25. HELL OR HIGH WATER — the first movie of 2016 that makes the list. With Jeff Bridges doing that cowboy sheriff thang; Chris Pine showing he’s not just a pretty boy, and underrated character actor Ben Foster (who helped two other films make this list).
  26. THE ARTIST — It was nominated for 10 Oscars, and won Best Picture. I thought this French picture, filmed like an old black-and-white, silent picture…was a gimmick that wouldn’t work. I’m so glad I was wrong.
  27. BLUE VALENTINE — I had a film group for a few years that would watch movies and discuss them. About 10 of the women in the group hated the movie; half of them thought Ryan Gosling was a jerk, the other half thought Michelle Williams was (I have no clue why she was the only one nominated, and not Gosling). It shows the couple’s courtship, and the break-up of their marriage. It’ll break your heart.
  28. MYSTIC RIVER — Clint Eastwood directed and scored the picture, which got nominated for a bunch of Oscars. Sean Penn deserved the win, Tim Robbins didn’t. It has a few missteps, but overall, it’s a terrific film.
  29. ROOM — The story of a woman kidnapped for seven years, it scored an Oscar for Brie Larson (it got nominated for Best Picture and Best Director). Joan Allen is great in a small, subtle role as the mother. The young Jacob Tremblay won the Critics’ Choice Award for break-out role (I was happy about that, although I voted for RJ Cyler for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl).
  30. WHIPLASH — It was nice to see character actor J.K. Simmons get a starring role (and to see him win an Oscar). Miles Teller is terrific as the young drummer determined to be the best ever.
  31. GLADIATOR — This won five Oscars, including Russell Crowe for Best Actor, as well as Best Picture. Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t chopped liver (but did get stabbed in the liver).
  32. GHOST WORLD — A terrific indie film, with indie darling Steve Buscemi, being pranked by two teen girls (one being Scarlett Johansson, back when she actually acted).
  33. BEST IN SHOW — Christopher Guest has done three great mockumentaries. Spinal Tap is still the best, and Waiting for Guffman third. This is in second place, and a favorite of dog lovers everywhere.
  34. RABBIT HOLE — This came out the same year as Blue Valentine (2010), and both were dark movies dealing with couples breaking up. Nicole Kidman got an Oscar nomination playing a mother grieving over the loss of a son. I have no clue why Aaron Eckhart wasn’t nominated also. Dianne Wiest was also terrific as the grieving grandmother.
  35. PHILOMENA — The movie was nominated for four Oscars, including best picture. The underrated (at least in the U.S.) comedic talent Steve Coogan, stars, and wrote the nominated screenplay. Judi Dench is terrific, playing a girl that’s looking for the daughter she was forced to give up for adoption (based on a true story).
  36. MINORITY REPORT — A Tom Cruise movie Spielberg directed, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. It made a fortune at the box office, so I’m sure you saw it.
  37. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE — Greg Kinnear plays another slimeball, and my favorite comedic actor, Alan Arkin, snagged an Oscar. Despite a goofy ending, I dug it.
  38. LAYER CAKE — I’ve enjoyed Matthew Vaughn movies (well, other than Kick-Ass). Daniel Craig plays a drug dealer, right before he became Bond.
  39. CRIMINAL — It’s nice to see character actor John C. Reilly in a starring role, and Diego Luna is terrific in a supporting role. They play two con men, and you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time they ply their trade.
  40. LIMITLESS — This movie got mixed reviews, but it was a blast watching Bradley Cooper go from being a slacker, to taking a pill that lets him use 100% of his brain. Robert De Niro has a great role as well.
  41. THE WORLD’S END — The third in a silly trilogy talented Brits Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg did, with great supporting work from Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, and Nick Frost. Middle-aged men reunited to go on a pub crawl they didn’t finish in college. Oh, and aliens have invaded. It came out the same year (2013) as Seth Rogan’s similarly named comedy This is the End, which was funny, but not half as good as this picture.
  42. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS — This New Zealand comedy is brought to you by the talent behind the terrific TV show Flight of the Concords (and they’re responsible for movie #74 on this list). This is about a reality show that follows a house of vampires that live together (and they bicker just like households in all reality shows). It’s a brilliant comedy, and one that everyone in the San Diego Film Critics Society agreed on while voting for our year-end awards a few years ago.
  43. WHAT MAISE KNEW — Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan are having a custody battle over their young daughter, and surprisingly, the much younger people they’re dating (including Alexander Skarsgard), step up nicely.
  44. EASY A — Reminds me a lot of Mean Girls, with Emma Stone replacing Lindsay Lohan. It’s like an updated The Scarlet Letter, and a love letter, to the great ’80s John Hughes movies.
  45. HIGH FIDELITY — Any music lover has to love this film, based on the terrific Nick Hornby book. And Jack Black always works better in a comedy when he’s in a supporting role.
  46. THE SOCIAL NETWORK — It got 8 Oscar nominations (winning for Best Adapted Screenplay). We found out Aaron Sorkin can write some great dialogue, and Mark Zuckerberg is a nut.
  47. THE DEBT — Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain, is all you need to say. The men in supporting roles are okay, too (Tom Wilkinson, Sam Worthington). Story about a Nazi doctor in 1965 being kidnapped and taken to trial. Everything goes wrong, and you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time.
  48. A SEPARATION — by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. It was so fascinating watching a divorce taking place in another country.
  49. CINDERELLA MAN — It’s always hit-or-miss with Ron Howard. His moving on racing (Rush) was good, and this story on boxer Jim Braddock was heartbreaking. As great as Russell Crowe was, it was Paul Giamatti that got the Oscar nomination.
  50. 50/50 — This was nominated for a few Golden Globes (including Best Picture), but shut out at the Oscars. That’s a shame, because a movie about a guy getting cancer can also be made into a comedy. They did it here. It was a thrill meeting the cast at the San Diego Film Festival, too.
  51. HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG — It got a few Oscar nominations (I think the Academy is required to nominated Ben Kingsley when he does a film). The book is powerful and so is the film. It’s a story about a drug addicted woman losing her house due to a mishap, and a high ranking Iranian Colonel who is here doing menial jobs, buys it cheaply at auction. It’s one of those rare movies where characters aren’t one-dimensional, and you find yourself sympathizing with everyone.
  52. SOUND OF MY VOICE — Brit Marling co-wrote and stars, as a cult leader who claims to be from the future. Marling has proven herself to be one of the most interesting talents in Hollywood, although it’s usually her indie films I love (the Richard Gere movie Arbitrage is awful, but her scene with Gere is great).
  53. YOU CAN COUNT ON ME — It got nominated for Best Screenplay, and I was thrilled Laura Linney was nominated for Best Actress. It would’ve been nice if Mark Ruffalo, as the troubled brother recently out of prison, scored one, too. Matthew Broderick also has an interesting supporting role as an obnoxious boss. A terrific indie film and writer/director Ken Lonergan needs to give us another.
  54. NOTES ON A SCANDAL — Four well-deserved Oscar nominations, and Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are wonderful together.
  55. THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN — This Belgian picture got nominated for Best Foreign Film the year it came out, and as a music movie, it was Once that got more attention. This was better.
  56. THE LOOKOUT — The screenwriter of Out of Sight, a terrific film, directs his first movie and it’s amazing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who went from the wacky kid on 3rd Rock From the Sun, to an actor that does a lot of interesting work. It baffles me that Jeff Bridges, playing a blind, ex-drug addict with a heart of gold, didn’t get an Oscar nomination.
  57. MOONRISE KINGDOM — Wes Anderson is one of the most overrated filmmakers in Hollywood (did you really like Grand Budapest Hotel?). This got a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and this coming-of-age story about a Boy Scout that runs away…is the type of movie Anderson should stick to.
  58. ABOUT A BOY — Another Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination, another Nick Hornby book turned into a terrific film, in which Hugh Grant lies about having a son in order to seduce a woman. When he starts to care about a young boy he meets (Nicholas Hoult), it’s so heartwarming. Terrific supporting cast, too (Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette).
  59. THE PROMOTION — I love the fact that John C. Reilly always pops up in good stuff. I’m one of the few critics that liked Step Brothers, and one of the few that loved this movie (it got a mere 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, and my girlfriend was bummed I made her watch it). It’s about two grocery store managers vying for a promotion, and it was one of the funniest movies I saw in 2008. The scenes with Reilly listening to motivational tapes, is perhaps the funniest stuff you may ever see on film.
  60. WINTER’S BONE — This indie picture put Jennifer Lawrence on the map. She’s from a poor family in the Ozarks who has to locate her missing father in order to keep her family from being evicted. It ended up scoring four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay.
  61. 3:10 TO YUMA — I’m not a fan of Westerns, but you can’t deny a great movie no matter what genre; Shane, The Shootist, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, High Noon — all excellent. Of the more contemporary Westerns, the two best are Unforgiven and 3:10 to Yuma, the remake with Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, and the movie that introduced me to Ben Foster! From a terrific story by Elmore Leonard.
  62. LITTLE CHILDREN — You can’t have Kate Winslet in a movie without her getting an Oscar nomination, and it got a well-deserved one for Best Adapted Screenplay. Everyone was surprised Jackie Earle Haley, a child actor who was in The Bad News Bears, got a nomination for playing a pedophile. It’s a dark film that’s brilliantly done.
  63. ME, YOU, AND EVERYONE WE KNOW — John Hawkes, so great in Winter’s Bone, is terrific as an awkward shoe salesman dealing with divorce and dating. Miranda July, who wrote/directed/starred in this. She’s married to Mike Mills, who gave us the terrific Beginners and Thumbsucker. I hope just because she’s a mom and wife, this writer, actress, and performance artist doesn’t stop creating her art. It’s truly original and wonderful stuff.
  64. THE UPSIDE OF ANGER — Kevin Costner isn’t a great actor, but he plays baseball players well. As an ex-athlete and alcoholic, and he’s got terrific chemistry with Joan Allen. Mike Binder wrote, directed, and plays a slimy producer of a radio show. He directed Indian Summer, which was good, but brought Costner back for Black and White, which was awful. Come on, Mr. Binder. Give us another terrific film like this.
  65. THE MESSENGER — My San Diego Film Critics Association nominated this for six awards, and it won for Best Supporting Actress (Samantha Morton). Ben Foster is again terrific, and who would’ve thought Woody from Cheers would do such interesting films? He got an Oscar nomination for this (it also got one for Screenplay). The story of families being informed by the military that their loved ones were killed in combat. It’s heartbreaking, but a must-see.
  66. MOON — David Bowie’s kid Duncan Jones directed this, and has become a talent in Hollywood. How Sam Rockwell didn’t get nominated for an Oscar is beyond me. He plays an astronaut on a space station on the moon for three years. He starts hallucinating, and only has his computer (Kevin Spacey) to talk to. This is way better than Interstellar and The Martian, although you’ve probably seen both those movies and not this one.
  67. BOILER ROOM — Vin Diesel wasn’t popular when this came out, and after his performance, I proclaimed he’d be a huge star (no pun intended). I didn’t realize it would be for doing a series of crappy action pictures. Giovanni Ribisi is great as a young stockbroker who learned nothing from watching the movie Wall Street. This is the movie that The Wolf of Wall Street wishes it was.
  68. WRECK-IT RALPH — Who would’ve thought John C. Reilly would make my list more than Meryl Streep films? This Oscar-nominated animated film deals with video game characters that live a normal life after the kids leave the arcade. Sarah Silverman is adorable, and even if the premise borrows from Toy Story, this is excellent and highly original.
  69. THE HURT LOCKER — It won six Oscars, including Best Picture and a rare woman winning Best Director. Jeremy Renner was terrific as an explosive detonation expert (even though someone I met said half of what they did was unrealistic).
  70. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER — A teen comedy that also deals with mental health issues. It was a nice decision to have Emma Watson, so popular from the Harry Potter series, in a supporting role and not the main lead. Logan Lerman (also great in the recent Indignation) is a young talent with a big career ahead of him.
  71. RACHEL GETTING MARRIED — Jonathan Demme directed Silence of the Lambs, and he did this movie, written by Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney). Anne Hathaway got the Oscar nomination, but any woman that played this part would’ve. It’s a great indie film about a drug addict that’s about to ruin her sister’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. Demme, a big music lover, uses songs brilliantly in this film.
  72. UNBREAKABLE — We all agree, The Sixth Sense is M. Night Shamalan’s best movie. Some say his only good movie. Don’t overlook this underrated movie about a man (Bruce Willis) who is being convinced by a comic book collector (Samuel Jackson), that he might be a superhero; subtle, interesting performances and great story.
  73. CALVARY — This movie out of Ireland stars Brendan Gleeson as a priest dealing with a death threat…and a daughter.
  74. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE — A picture from New Zealand that deals with a rebellious foster kid. Writer/director Taika Waititi also gave us What We Do in the Shadows. Two movies, both making my Top 10 lists, two years in a row. This guy should be a billionaire in Hollywood by now.
  75. A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN — This Norwegian movie stars Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), as a released prisoner trying to deal with a new job, an ex wife, and a son that wants nothing to do with him. It has perhaps the funniest sex scene you’ll ever see on screen.
  76. IN THE LOOP — A British satire that deals with the invasion of Iraq. James Gandolfini is always great as a tough military character (Zero Dark Thirty, too). I was glad this got a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, because it reminded me of an updated Dr. Strangelove.
  77. SUPER — Kick-Ass tried unsuccessfully to parody super hero movies. Deadpool pulled it off this year, but it was Super that went under the radar, and is the funniest film of that ilk that nobody knows about; starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. It was written/directed by James Gunn, who found more success with Guardians of the Galaxy.
  78. A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE — Can we all just agree that Viggo Mortensen is an acting God? And that director David Cronenberg is odd (The Fly, Dead Zone, Videodrome, etc), but with this and Eastern Promises, he gave us two violent, but great pictures (avoid Cosmopolis at all costs).
  79. WHALE RIDER — This New Zealand picture blew everyone away, and Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest girl ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. It’s the story of a girl that loves the tradition of her family, but she doesn’t have a chance at become the chief of her tribe because she’s a girl. The grandfather despises the fact that he doesn’t have a grandson, but she adores him anyway. And what a terrific ending this film has. Dads everywhere will be mad they wished for a son.
  80. HARD CANDY — This is the movie that shows one of the reasons why men want sons over daughters. Patrick Wilson (of Little Children, also on this list) plays a predator that has roped a young girl (Ellen Page, in her first big role) into going back to his place. What happens after he gets her there…will blow your mind.
  81. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER — Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the list again. This is what more romantic-comedies should be like. It’s interesting watching various, random days from a couple’s courtship, and break-up.
  82. BRICK — Joseph Gordon-Levitt again. This won “Originality of Vision” at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s the most unusual, original movie I had seen in a decade. A high school student is investigating the disappearance of an old girlfriend, and it plays like film noir. My girlfriend hated it, so…perhaps it’s not for everybody.
  83. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN — This Swedish horror movie was so good, an American version was made (which wasn’t so good). It’s slowly paced, which is nice. It’s about a bullied boy that befriends the neighbor girl — who just happens to be a vampire.
  84. AVATAR — I was at a party at director James Cameron’s house a few months before this was released, and everyone there was talking about how great it would be. The idea of blue aliens sounded goofy to me, and I was talking to Cameron about his sci-fi flick Strange Days which I liked. When I saw the movie, I was blown away. The story isn’t the most original thing in the world, but what a beautiful piece of filmmaking. It was nominated for a lot of Oscars, won a few, and became the highest grossing movie of all-time.
  85. THERE WILL BE BLOOD — Okay, so…maybe Daniel Day-Lewis is the better actor than Viggo. He won an Oscar for this. The film also won the Cinematography Oscar. Ever since Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights — which is one of the best movies ever made — I’m always excited when he releases a new movie. Unfortunately, this was the last one he did I liked.
  86. INSIDE OUT — The Critics’ Choice awards gave it an award, as did the Oscars. This animated Pixar flick isn’t just a kids movie.
  87. KISS KISS BANG BANG — It was nice to see Val Kilmer in a good movie again, and he has great chemistry with Robert Downey, Jr. in this noir picture. When Michelle Monaghan was at the San Diego Film Festival and we spoke briefly, I completely forgot she was in this movie or I would’ve been gushing over her.
  88. THE MACHINIST — Robert De Niro gained weight for Raging Bull. Christian Bale lost so much weight to play a machinist with insomnia, that doctors were worried about his health. Jennifer Jason Leigh, in yet another indie picture, plays a prostitute. This movie gets confusing, but everything is explained brilliantly in the third act. Seek it out.
  89. A SERIOUS MAN — The Coen brothers can be so frustrating. For every great film they do, there are two turkeys. This is one of the great ones, with character actor Michael Stuhlbarg allowed to shine in a leading role. Great supporting work from Richard Kind, Fyvush Finkel, Adam Arkin, and Fred Melamed. It also get a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
  90. IRON MAN — Why are critics so reluctant to put comic book movies on their “best of” lists?
  91. HUSTLE & FLOW — It’s crazy to think that the song that won the Oscar that year was from this, and it’s called “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” Terrence Howard also got a well-deserved Oscar nomination, playing a pimp trying to make it as a rapper. Craig Brewer wrote and directed this, and his next picture, Black Snake Moan, didn’t get the same critical praise (I liked that one, too).
  92. SIN CITY — Critic Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars and called it brilliant. Incredible cast, and incredible way they took a graphic novel, filmed it in black and white, it brought this bizarre story to life.
  93. HUGO — This and The Artist came out the same year, and were great love letters to old Hollywood. It was Martin Scorsese’s only 3D movie, and it got 11 Academy Award nominations, more than any other movie in 2011. It has some real elements based into the fictional story, and if you’re interested in how movies started, go see it. (For some reason, the disappointing The Departed and Wolf of Wall Street are the films ending up on lists)
  94. BIG FAN — No critic is ever going to put this on any list, but it’s an indie picture that moved me. One of the best stand-up comedians working today, Patton Oswalt, plays a sad-sack character living at home, working a miserable job, and being obsessed with sports talk radio. His friend is Kevin Corrigan, who is always great in the indie films he appears in.
  95. ONCE — This little picture came out of Ireland and stole our hearts. Director John Carney, who has now done a few musical movies, scored an Oscar for Best Original Song, and a Grammy nomination for this. It’s a cute romantic-comedy about a busker who starts a band with a woman he meets on the street. Perhaps the best, most romantic (and painful) ending I’ve seen in a movie since Casablanca.
  96. EVERYTHING MUST GO — Will Ferrell in a serious role, plays an alcoholic that loses his job and befriends a bored boy in the neighborhood (Christopher Wallace, son of late rapper Notorious B.I.G.). Great supporting work from Michael Pena and Laura Dern.
  97. BEGINNERS — I wish more “romantic comedies” could be like this. Ewan McGregor is dealing with the loss of his mom, and his father coming out of the closet as a senior citizen. Christopher Plummer won the Oscar for this role. It was the first time I ever saw French actress Melanie Laurent. A wonderful film.
  98. THE PIANIST — I was bummed director Roman Polanski won the Oscar, as he’s still a rapist that fled the country. I was happy Adrien Brody won the Oscar, and wished I would’ve brought my DVD to have him sign when he was at the San Diego Film Festival.
  99. FUNNY PEOPLE — It’s crazy to think that two Judd Apatow movies made my list (and one starring Adam Sandler). I remember hearing Dennis Miller on a talk show say this movie would win the Oscar for Best Picture. It didn’t get nominated, and it got mixed reviews. It’s funny, sad, and showed stand-up comedy in a realistic way.

100. FINDING NEMO — Another Pixar homerun, and it became the best selling DVD of all-time. It won the Best Animated Oscar, and was nominated for 3 other Academy Awards.

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