From Under the Skin to Casino Royale: Six Directors Pick The Best Films of the 21st Century

By Staff · June 9, 2017

After publishing their picks for the top 25 movies of the 21st century (so far), the New York Times recently caught up with six prominent directors to discuss some of their favorite films from the past 17 years. Among those included are recent Palm d’Or winner Sofia Coppola, Blade Runner 2049’s Denis Villeneuve and Bridesmaid’s Paul Feig.

Some of their answers might surprise you. From tasteful foreign dramas and award-season darlings, to Hollywood blockbusters and raunchy, R-rated comedies, their choices run the gamut from high to low and everything in between. In other words, they provide a refreshing change of pace from the usual suspects that we see brought up time and time again. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and if there’s one thing filmmakers prove time and time again, it’s that there’s plenty of room in our cinematic palette for a bit of – ahem – fun.

Antoine Fuqua

(Training Day, The Magnificent Seven)

“I love all types of films: great character-driven pieces like “There Will Be Blood,” and entertainment like “Gravity” and “Avatar” that transported me to other places and filled me with wonderment — a reminder to us all to continue pushing our vision.”

Slumdog Millionaire
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Zero Dark Thirty
There Will Be Blood
The Pianist
Eastern Promises

Sofia Coppola

(Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette)

“I usually like more subtle movies but can enjoy all kinds.”

Force Majeure
The White Ribbon
The Savages
Daddy’s Home
Under the Skin
The Incredibles
Grizzly Man
Fish Tank
Ex Machina

Paul Feig

(Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters)

The best experience I ever have [is] when I forget I’m watching a movie. Or when as a filmmaker, I’m going, “How did they do that?”

Napoleon Dynamite
Moulin Rouge
Sing Street
This Is the End
A Single Man
Casino Royale

Denis Villeneuve

(Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049)

When I started making movies at the end of the 20th century, the previous generation of filmmakers said cinema was dead. Well … long live cinema!” 

There Will be Blood
No Country for Old Men
A Prophet
Under the Skin
Children of Men
Amores Perros

Brett Ratner

(Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand)

The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Pianist
The Hangover
The Social Network
Y Tu Mamá También
Sexy Beast
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
Kill Bill: Vol 1

Alex Gibney

(Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief)

“…I don’t even like proclaiming ‘great films.’ I remember that my father spent most of his life wanting to be a “great man,” but became more interesting and important to me when he became a ‘good man’…”

City of God
Michael Clayton
Pan’s Labyrinth
No Country for Old Men
The Grand Budapest Hotel
I Am Not Your Negro
Nostalgia for the Light
Waltz With Bashir
Iraq in Fragments
Grizzly Man
Heart of a Dog
The Big Short

Check out the New York Time’s full list here!