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100 best movies of the 21st century, according to critics

  • 100 best movies of the 21st century
    1/ Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight Pictures // IMDB

    100 best movies of the 21st century

    Renowned director Francis Ford Coppola once said, "I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians." Though the Golden Age of Hollywood ended decades ago, the magic of Hollywood may be even more remarkable today. Consider how technology enables filmmakers to include incredible CGI creations or to create thought-provoking documentaries filmed on smartphones. Hollywood has started opening its doors to allow women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others to tell new, diverse stories that appeal to critics and audiences alike. What’s more, there are countless publications and online outlets to critique and discuss the latest films, highlighting smaller, more obscure movies that might have otherwise gone undiscovered.

    The rise of Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms have similarly changed the game. While most of their innovations have been geared toward changing the TV landscape as we know it, they’re also producing original movies faster than the biggest studios and working with some of Hollywood’s best stars to do it. As their feature films and documentaries continue picking up awards and critical acclaim, in 20 years a list like this might feature more Netflix and Amazon originals than big-budget blockbusters or indie flicks.

    Streaming services are an ideal way to watch many of the countless films made in the 21st century; stories that have transported viewers to far-flung worlds, taught lasting lessons about life, created empathy, and churned up emotion. Which movies do critics say have bested the rest? Stacker compiled data from Metacritic to rank the top 100 films of the 21st century (so far). These films have made you laugh, made you cry, and they’ve all come out in the last 19 years. Grab your popcorn and get ready to add some new must-see films to your watch list.
     

    You may also like: Best comedy films of all time, according to critics 

  • #100. American Hustle
    2/ Francois Duhamel // IMDB

    #100. American Hustle

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Dec. 13, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #177

    “American Hustle” follows the story of con artists who take part in an FBI sting operation. Starring powerhouse actors Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence, this film became known for its flashy, late-1970s style and brilliant moments of comedy. Interestingly, its plot is loosely based on a true story.

  • #99. Capturing the Friedmans
    3/ George Argeroios // IMDB

    #99. Capturing the Friedmans

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: May. 30, 2003

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #175

    This HBO documentary follows the story of Arnold and Jesse Friedman, a father and son arrested for child molestation. The director was initially making a short film about children’s party entertainment. He filmed a clown named David Friedman, who happened to be Jesse’s brother, and was pulled into a new story.

  • #98. Mad Max: Fury Road
    4/ Jasin Boland // IMDB

    #98. Mad Max: Fury Road

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: May. 15, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #173

    The film that spawned thousands of Halloween costumes, “Mad Max: Fury Road” has become one of the most famous post-apocalyptic action movie franchises. Starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, the story chronicles a man who teams up with a band of women fleeing a psychopathic tyrant.

  • #97. Eighth Grade
    5/ A24 // IMDB

    #97. Eighth Grade

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Jul. 13, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #172

    “Eighth Grade” explores the life of Kayla, a suburban 13-year-old in her last year of middle school. The movie was written and directed by Bo Burnham, who rose to fame with his comedic songs on YouTube and later took to the stage as a stand-up comedian.

  • #96. United 93
    6/ Universal Pictures // IMDB

    #96. United 93

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Apr. 28, 2006

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #171

    September 11, 2001 was a day that changed lives around the world. “United 93” follows the real-time story of one of the hijacked planes that crashed in a field. Passengers worked together to foil a terrorist plot, sacrificing themselves in the process.

  • #95. Cold War
    7/ Opus Film // IMDB

    #95. Cold War

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Dec. 21, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #170

    Star-crossed lovers fight to stay together during the Cold War as they travel through Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris. This foreign movie was filmed in black and white, and nabbed the 2018 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Director.

  • #94. The Fits
    8/ Yes, Ma'am // IMDB

    #94. The Fits

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Jun. 3, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #169

    “The Fits” follows the efforts of 11-year-old Toni (Royalty Hightower) in becoming part of a local dance team. However, a strange outbreak of fainting spells—the fits—begins to overcome the dancers. This film marked Anna Rose Holmer’s directorial debut.

  • #93. Gosford Park
    9/ TheTzunami // YouTube

    #93. Gosford Park

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Dec. 26, 2001

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #167

    2001’s “Gosford Park” is a British mystery film starring Maggie Smith, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Gambon, and Kristin Scott Thomas. The upstairs-downstairs drama with a large ensemble cast snagged an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

  • #92. The Tale
    10/ Gamechanger Films / IMDB

    #92. The Tale

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: May 26, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #166

    Called HBO’s most controversial movie ever by "Rolling Stone," “The Tale” is a meta-memoir about director Jennifer Fox’s childhood. Starring Laura Dern, the film depicts a woman who realizes that she was coerced into an abusive sexual relationship as a 13-year-old girl while attending a horseback-riding camp.

  • #91. American Splendor
    11/ Good Machine // IMDB

    #91. American Splendor

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Aug. 15, 2003

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #164

    The film “American Splendor” is based on a series of autobiographical comic books by Harvey Pekar. Paul Giamatti stars in the biopic, which uses both realistic footage as well as comic book-style art brought to life.

  • #90. Big Men
    12/ Boynton Films // IMDB

    #90. Big Men

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Mar. 14, 2014

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #163

    This documentary, filmed between 2007 and 2011, follows the corruption of the oil industry in Ghana and Nigeria. During production, a two-person crew went inside a company called Kosmos as they developed the first commercial oil field in Ghana.

  • #89. Phantom Thread
    13/ Focus Features // IMDB

    #89. Phantom Thread

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Dec. 25, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #162

    “Phantom Thread” is a beautiful, slow movie about the tragic, terrifying collision of larger-than-life personalities. Set in the 1950s, the film portrays a famous dressmaker whose life is turned upside down by the young woman he falls in love with. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis in a role he claims will be his last.

  • #88. Almost Famous
    14/ Columbia Pictures // IMDB

    #88. Almost Famous

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Sep. 13, 2000

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #161

    “Almost Famous” is based on the true story of director Cameron Crowe’s experience working as a teenage writer for Rolling Stone. This coming-of-age film is set in the 1970s as a young journalist goes on tour with a famous rock band.  

  • #87. Hard to Be a God
    15/ Sever Studio // IMDB

    #87. Hard to Be a God

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Jan. 30, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #160

    “Hard to Be a God” is sci-fi drama based on a 1964 novel of the same name. A strange, epic film, it was the final movie made by director Aleksei Yuryevich German before his death.

  • #86. A Prophet
    16/ Metropole Films

    #86. A Prophet

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Feb. 26, 2010

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #159

    This French crime movie won the grand prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Jacques Audiard, the film is about the violence and dehumanization of prison life, following the story of a man named Malik.

  • #85. Before Sunset
    17/ Warner Independent Pictures // IMDB

    #85. Before Sunset

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Jul. 2, 2004

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #157

    “Before Sunset” is part of the “Before Trilogy,” which includes 1995’s “Before Sunrise” and 2013’s “Before Midnight.” All three films star Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. “Before Sunset” follows an afternoon spent by lovers reuniting nine years after their first meeting in Paris.

  • #84. The Incredibles
    18/ Buena Vista Pictures // IMDB

    #84. The Incredibles

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Nov. 5, 2004

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #156

    In Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” a family of superheroes attempting to lead a normal life gets sucked into a top secret assignment. It won Oscars for Best Animated Film and Best Sound Editing.

  • #83. Finding Nemo
    19/ Buena Vista Pictures // IMDB

    #83. Finding Nemo

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: May. 30, 2003

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #153

    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming… In “Finding Nemo” (another Pixar classic), a little clown fish gets separated from his father and has to traverse the wide ocean to find his way home. The movie features voice acting from Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks, among others.

  • #82. This Is Not a Film
    20/ Jahar Panahi Film Productions // IMDB

    #82. This Is Not a Film

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Mar. 2, 2012

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #152

    This Iranian documentary has a fascinating backstory. It follows a man who is both logging government threats against himself and simultaneously discussing the meaning of filmmaking. A portion of the movie was filmed with an iPhone, which the director smuggled the film into France for Cannes using a flash drive embedded in a cake.

  • #81. My Perestroika
    21/ Red Square Productions

    #81. My Perestroika

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Mar. 23, 2011

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #151

    This documentary gives viewers a peek behind the Iron Curtain. It chronicles the lives of five Russians from childhoods spent under Soviet rule through post-Soviet Russia.

  • #80. It's Such a Beautiful Day
    22/ Bitter Films // IMDB

    #80. It's Such a Beautiful Day

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Oct. 5, 2012

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #150

    Don Hertzfeldt, who first became famous with his wild, acerbic internet videos, created this experimental animated film. The philosophically-driven movie combines stick figures with live-action footage, plus classical music.

  • #79. Paths of the Soul
    23/ He Li Chen Guang International Culture Media Co . // IMDB

    #79. Paths of the Soul

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: May. 13, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #149

    “Paths of the Soul” is a Chinese film directed and produced by Zhang Yang. It tells the story of a 1,200 mile trek to Lhasa. The film is centered around Buddhist beliefs and spiritual fulfillment.

  • #78. Her
    24/ Annapurna Pictures // IMDB

    #78. Her

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Dec. 18, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #147

    “Her” will likely inspire science-fiction writers and creators of technology for generations to come. A romantic sci-fi film starring Joaquin Phoenix, the film is about a lonely man who falls in love with his AI assistant, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

  • #77. My Voyage to Italy
    25/ MediaTrade

    #77. My Voyage to Italy

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Oct. 19, 2001

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #145

    Director Martin Scorsese revisits his childhood home in Manhattan, discusses influential films, and dives into Italian film history in this documentary. Scorsese said he hoped the film would encourage young people to watch the classic movies that once inspired him.

  • #76. Bloody Sunday
    26/ Bórd Scannán na hÉireann // IMDB

    #76. Bloody Sunday

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Oct. 4, 2002

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #144

    The Irish filmBloody Sunday” chronicles the 1972 shootings of the same name. The Guardian called the critically acclaimed feature “newsreel-vérité.”

  • #75. I Called Him Morgan
    27/ Kasper Collin Produktion // IMDB

    #75. I Called Him Morgan

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Mar. 24, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #140

    This Swedish-American documentary premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. It recounts the story of Helen Morgan, a woman who killed her common-law husband, the jazz musician Lee Morgan.

  • #74. Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
    28/ Arte France Cinéma // IMDB

    #74. Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Feb. 13, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #139

    An internationally produced drama, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” is the third film in a trilogy about an unhappy marriage. In it, an Israeli woman spends three years fighting to finalize her divorce. The film’s title comes from the term for the religious bill of divorce required from a husband under Israeli law.

  • #73. Winter's Bone
    29/ Anonymous Content // IMDB

    #73. Winter's Bone

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Jun. 11, 2010

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #138

    “Winter’s Bone” rocketed actress Jennifer Lawrence into mega-stardom at age 19. The film follows a young woman living in a largely drug-addicted community in the Ozarks, set against a stark, wintery backdrop.

  • #72. Foxtrot
    30/ Bord Cadre Films // IMDB

    #72. Foxtrot

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Dec. 8, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #137

    This Israeli drama by writer/director Samuel Maoz won the Grand Jury Prize from the Venice Film Festival. It tells the story of a couple who learn that their son has died at war.

  • #71. 13th
    31/ Kandoo Films // IMDB

    #71. 13th

    Metascore: 90

    Release date: Oct. 7, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #135

    Director Ava DuVernay is well-known for her feature films, including “Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” “13th,” one of several documentaries she’s made, tackles racism in America, with regards to the country’s prison system.

  • #70. Ida
    32/ Music Box Films // IMDB

    #70. Ida

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: May. 2, 2014

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #133

    Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white film is set in 1962 Poland. A young woman is about to take her vows to become a nun—when she discovers from her only living relative that she is Jewish.

  • #69. Nostalgia for the Light
    33/ Atacama Productions // IMDB

    #69. Nostalgia for the Light

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Mar. 18, 2011

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #132

    Originally titled “Nostalgia de la Luz,” this 2010 documentary is about the impact of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. Director Patricio Guzmán filmed in the Atacama Desert, where people search for the bodies of political prisoners.

  • #68. The Gatekeepers
    34/ Sony Pictures // IMDB

    #68. The Gatekeepers

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Feb. 1, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #131

    “The Gatekeepers” marks the first time that secret service members for former heads of Israel have agreed to speak publicly about their work. The resulting documentary by Dror Moreh was nominated for an Academy Award.

  • #67. No Country for Old Men
    35/ Paramount Vantage // IMDB

    #67. No Country for Old Men

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Nov. 9, 2007

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #130

    “No Country for Old Men,” a crime thriller, is based on a 2005 novel by Cormac McCarthy of the same name. After a hunter (played by Josh Brolin) stumbles across the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong, he steals the cash that’s left behind. Little does he know that he’ll soon be the target of a terrifying killer, played by Javier Bardem.

  • #66. EX LIBRIS: The New York Public Library
    36/ Zipporah Films // IMDB

    #66. EX LIBRIS: The New York Public Library

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Sep. 13, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #126

    This documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the New York Public Library system. It chronicles everything from board meetings to galas to after-school programs across the system’s 92 branches.

  • #65. Waltz with Bashir
    37/ Columbia/Tristar // IMDB

    #65. Waltz with Bashir

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Dec. 25, 2008

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #125

    Waltz with Bashir” blends genres as an autobiographical animated documentary film. The 2008 movie follows Ari Folman, a filmmaker and former soldier, as he pieces together the events of the Sabra and Shatila massacres he witnessed as a 19-year-old.

  • #64. Beau Travail
    38/ Le Sept Arte // IMDB

    #64. Beau Travail

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Mar. 31, 2000

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #123

    In “Beau Travail,” a Foreign Legion officer reminisces on leading troops through Africa. His life takes a turn when his jealousy is piqued by a new recruit. This French film is based loosely on “Billy Budd,” a novella by Herman Melville.

  • #63. Jafar Panahi's Taxi
    39/ Jahar Panahi Film Production // IMDB

    #63. Jafar Panahi's Taxi

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Oct. 2, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #122

    When the Iranian government banned director Jafar Panahi from filmmaking, he pretended to be a taxi driver. He then affixed a camera to his dashboard and interviewed his passengers, which resulted in a docu-fictional film about social issues in Iran.  

  • #62. Stories We Tell
    40/ Roadside Attractions // IMDB

    #62. Stories We Tell

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: May. 10, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #121

    Canadian director Sarah Polley turned the lens on her own family and their close-held secrets. This documentary marked the third feature for the Oscar-nominated filmmaker.  

  • #61. The Queen
    41/ Pathé Pictures International // IMDB

    #61. The Queen

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Sep. 30, 2006

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #118

    Dame Helen Mirren snagged an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in this period drama. The movie chronicles the days after the death of Princess Diana, and the surprises, controversy, and mourning that followed.

  • #60. The Triplets of Belleville
    42/ Les Armateurs // IMDB

    #60. The Triplets of Belleville

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Nov. 26, 2003

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #117

    When “The Triplets of Belleville” was released in 2003, it dazzled audiences around the world with its unique animation style. The French comedy narrates the story of Madame Souza, whose professional cyclist grandson is kidnapped. The film earned two Academy Award nominations.

  • #59. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
    43/ Aboriginal Peoples Television Network // IMDB

    #59. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Jun. 7, 2002

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #111

    Starring Inuit actors, this film revamps an ancient legend. It follows a young man who falls in love with a woman betrothed to the tribal chief’s son. The movie became known for its riveting scenes in the Arctic.

  • #58. Moolaadé
    44/ Filmi Doomireew // IMDB

    #58. Moolaadé

    Metascore: 91

    Release date: Oct. 15, 2004

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #110

    “Moolaadé” confronts the tradition of female genital mutilation, telling the fictional story of a woman who shelters a group of girls fleeing the procedure. The film, set in Burkina Faso, was made by Senegalese writer and director Ousmane Sembène.

  • #57. The Rider
    45/ Caviar // IMDB

    #57. The Rider

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Apr. 13, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #109

    Featuring staggering scenes of the Pine Ridge Reservation and of beautiful horses, “The Rider” is about a bronc rider who fights to get back in the saddle after being critically injured in an accident. The movie by Chloe Zhao blends fact and fiction—the lead actor is a young man who went through much of the same trauma as the character he plays.

  • #56. Tower
    46/ Go-Valley // IMDB

    #56. Tower

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Oct. 12, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #108

    “Tower” is an animated documentary about the University of Texas shooting. The 1966 attack left 16 dead, and is considered to be the first mass-school shooting in America. The film mixes animation with live-action footage.

  • #55. The Look of Silence
    47/ Anonymous // IMDB

    #55. The Look of Silence

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Jul. 17, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #107

    An optometrist learns the identity of those who murdered his brother during the Indonesian genocide and confronts them in this documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer. The film was nominated for an Oscar.

  • #54. Toy Story 3
    48/ Walt Disney Pictures // IMDB

    #54. Toy Story 3

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Jun. 18, 2010

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #106

    Pixar’s “Toy Story” series follows the adventures of toys that come to life when humans aren’t looking. The third movie is about what happens when the toys’ owner heads off to college, and they’re accidentally put in the trash. It features voice work from Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack.  

  • #53. Werckmeister Harmonies
    49/ 13 Productions // IMDB

    #53. Werckmeister Harmonies

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Oct. 10, 2001

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #105

    This black-and-white Hungarian drama mystery is based on the novel “The Melancholy of Resistance” by László Krasznahorkai. Set against the communist regime, it’s about a circus that comes to town and fails to perform a promised act, resulting in riots.

  • #52. Leviathan
    50/ Anna Mateeva // IMDB

    #52. Leviathan

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Dec. 25, 2014

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #103

    In “Leviathan,” a Russian fisherman fights government corruption to keep his ancestral home. Written, directed, and produced by Andrey Zvyagintsev, it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • #51. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    51/ New Line Cinema // IMDB

    #51. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Dec. 25, 2014

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #103

    In “Leviathan,” a Russian fisherman fights government corruption to keep his ancestral home. Written, directed, and produced by Andrey Zvyagintsev, it earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

  • #50. Apocalypse Now Redux
    52/ Zoetrope Studios // IMDB

    #50. Apocalypse Now Redux

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Aug. 3, 2001

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #100

    “Apocalypse Now Redux” is an extended version of 1979’s “Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola. Based loosely on “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, this epic film is set amid the Vietnam War and stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Martin Sheen. The updated version includes 49 additional minutes of footage.

  • #49. Timbuktu
    53/ Les Films du Worso // IMDB

    #49. Timbuktu

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Jan. 28, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #99

    This French-Mauritanian drama is about a cattle herder and his family. Though they live quietly, a horrific regime of Islamic militants looms in the nearby city of Timbuktu. It’s inspired by the true story of a couple stoned to death for alleged adultery.

  • #48. The Florida Project
    54/ Cre Film // IMDB

    #48. The Florida Project

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Oct. 6, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #98

    Set just outside of Disneyland over the course of a summer, this film by Sam Baker depicts a mother and daughter living at a budget motel, run by Bobby (played by Willem Dafoe). Much of the film focuses on the resilience of the young girl, and the sacrifices her mother must make for her.

  • #47. The Favourite
    55/ Element Pictures // IMDB

    #47. The Favourite

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Nov. 23, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #95

    This period film set in 18th century England stars Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult. Amid war, a friend of Queen Anne becomes enraged when a servant threatens to usurp her role as the favored royal advisor.

  • #46. 35 Shots of Rum
    56/ Soudaine Compagnie // IMDB

    #46. 35 Shots of Rum

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Sep. 16, 2009

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #94

    Directed by French filmmaker Claire Denis, “35 Shots of Rum” was inspired by the Japanese film “Late Spring.” Originally called “35 Rhums,” the movie follows the relationship between a father-daughter duo and their neighbor.

  • #45. The Class
    57/ Haut en Court // IMDB

    #45. The Class

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Dec. 19, 2008

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #92

    Based on an autobiographical novel of the same name, “The Class” is about an idealistic young teacher working with underprivileged youth. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2008.

  • #44. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
    58/ Miramax // IMDB

    #44. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Nov. 30, 2007

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #91

    In this now-famous docudrama, the editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine suffers a stroke in his early 40s. Afterward, he suffers from locked-in syndrome. This film is based on the memoir of the same name by Jean-Dominique Bauby, which was composed by “dictating” his memoir through blinking, the only way he was able to communicate.

  • #43. One More Time with Feeling
    59/ Iconoclast // IMDB

    #43. One More Time with Feeling

    Metascore: 92

    Release date: Sep. 8, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #90

    Andrew Dominik’s documentary “One More Time with Feeling” is about Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. In the film, the band reels from the death of the lead singer’s child while recording their sixteenth studio album.

  • #42. Minding the Gap
    60/ ITVS // IMDB

    #42. Minding the Gap

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Aug. 17, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #87

    In “Minding the Gap,” three men bond over skateboarding, and together they work to escape their families in the Rust Belt. It was filmed by one of the friends over many years, and examines their growth from adolescence into adulthood.

  • #41. Sita Sings the Blues
    61/ Nina Paley // Wikimedia Commons

    #41. Sita Sings the Blues

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Dec. 25, 2009

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #85

    “Sita Sing the Blues” is an animated romantic comedy. Directed, produced and animated by American artist Nina Paley, the film reimagines events from the Indian epic poem “Ramayana” mixed with autobiographical events.

  • #40. There Will Be Blood
    62/ Paramount Vantage // IMDB

    #40. There Will Be Blood

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Dec. 26, 2007

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #82

    I drink your milkshake! In Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair, a greedy silver miner turned oil prospector moves to California and tries to con landowners out of their oil-rich land. It earned Daniel Day-Lewis an Academy Award for Best Actor.

  • #39. Sherpa
    63/ Arrow Media

    #39. Sherpa

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Oct. 2, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #81

    This documentary isn’t your typical Mount Everest story. Originally intended to tell the story of a regular climbing season, the film focuses on the stories of the sherpas who survived a deadly avalanche in 2014.

  • #38. Inside Llewyn Davis
    64/ CBS Films // IMDB

    #38. Inside Llewyn Davis

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Dec. 6, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #80

    There are many stories of struggling artists, but this one focuses on a fictional folk singer named Llewyn Davis in 1961 Greenwich Village. It stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman. The Coen brothers, who wrote, directed, and co-produced the film, were inspired by the story of a musician named Dave Van Ronk.

  • #37. La La Land
    65/ Dale Robinette /IMDB

    #37. La La Land

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Dec. 9, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #79

    “La La Land” follows two star-crossed lovers, one an actress and the other a jazz musician, as they pursue their dreams in Los Angeles. One big twist? The romantic dramedy, which won six Oscars, also happens to be a musical.

  • #36. Yi Yi
    66/ 1+2 Seisaku Iinkai // IMDB

    #36. Yi Yi

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Oct. 6, 2000

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #78

    “Yi Yi,” a comedy-drama, is about the year in the life of a middle-class family in Taipei. The film director Edward Yang, a famous Taiwanese New Wave filmmaker, the Best Director Award at Cannes.

  • #35. Call Me by Your Name
    67/ Frenesy Film Company // IMDB

    #35. Call Me by Your Name

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Nov. 24, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #77

    This lush film set over a summer in Italy dives into the story of an American teenager (Timothée Chalamet) who has a sexual awakening when his family hosts an older graduate student named Oliver (Armie Hammer). Based on a novel of the same name, the gay romance film is known for a few shocking moments, as well as a haunting final scene with music from Sufjan Stevens.

  • #34. Shoplifters
    68/ AOI Promotion // IMDB

    #34. Shoplifters

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Nov. 23, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #75

    Directed, written and edited by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, “Shoplifters” is a drama about a poor family that takes in an abused girl. The twist? The family gets by with a small government pension and supplements their income by shoplifting.  

  • #33. Spotlight
    69/ Participant Media // IMDB

    #33. Spotlight

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Nov. 6, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #74

    Based on real events, “Spotlight” traces the footsteps of investigative journalists at The Boston Globe looking into allegations against a priest accused of molesting boys. Soon, they learn of a larger cover-up within the Catholic Church. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and, today, the real-life Spotlight investigative team still works to uncover scandals.

  • #32. Toni Erdmann
    70/ Komplizen Film // IMDB

    #32. Toni Erdmann

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Dec. 25, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #73

    “Toni Erdmann” tells the tale of a father so desperate to reconnect with his business-focused daughter that he poses as her CEO’s life coach in order to spend time with her. The German-Austrian dramedy was written, directed, and co-produced by Maren Ade, and stars Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller.

  • #31. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    71/ Asia Union Film & Entertainment Ltd. // IMDB

    #31. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    Metascore: 93

    Release date: Dec. 8, 2000

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #72

    Martial arts movies are often considered a retro relic. Not so for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The Chinese film by Ang Lee, which tells the tale of a stolen sword, was released in 2000 and was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture.

  • #30. Amour
    72/ Les Films du Losange // IMDB

    #30. Amour

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Dec. 19, 2012

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #69

    Don’t forget your tissue box: The French romance film “Amour” is about a loving marriage torn apart by a woman's debilitating stroke. The New Yorker’s Hannah Goldfield called it depressing “to the point that I seriously contemplated escaping to the bathroom to have it out and collect myself, and considered leaving the theatre altogether.” It won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • #29. Faces Places
    73/ Ciné Tamaris // IMDB

    #29. Faces Places

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Oct. 6, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #68

    In this documentary, French New Wave director Agnès Varda joins a muralist named JR to travel around France. Along the way, they create giant portraits of the people they meet. Get the title now? “Faces Places” won a Cannes Golden Eye for Best Documentary.

  • #28. Carlos
    74/ Photo numerique // IMDB

    #28. Carlos

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Oct. 15, 2010

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #66

    2010’s “Carlos” recounts the real-life tale of Carlos the Jackal, an infamous terrorist-for-hire. The story begins with Carlos as a young Marxist, and shows how he was recruited by a Palestinian terrorist organization. The French-German biopic by Olivier Assayas follows two decades in the titular character’s life.

  • #27. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    75/ New Line // IMDB

    #27. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Dec. 17, 2003

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #65

    The final installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy lived up to the hype as Frodo the hobbit nears Mount Doom. The other members of his fellowship fight to defeat the evil armies deployed to take them down. Though some mocked it for being long-winded (the run time was nearly 3.5 hours), it was nominated for 11 Oscars, and won every category.

  • #26. Lady Bird
    76/ Scott Rudin Productions // IMDB

    #26. Lady Bird

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Nov. 3, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #64

    Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age, insta-classic “Lady Bird” depicts the daily life of a strong-willed Catholic high schooler in Sacramento as she deals with friends, boyfriends, and her mother. The film was also known for notable performances by Saoirse Ronan as the title character and Laurie Metcalf as her mother.

  • #25. We Were Here
    77/ Red Flag Releasing // IMDB

    #25. We Were Here

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Sep. 9, 2011

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #63

    San Francisco, once a must-needed haven for the queer community in the 1970s, underwent a shock in the 1980s when the AIDS crisis hit. “We Were Here” is a documentary film by David Weissman that tells the stories of five individuals who experienced this tragedy.

  • #24. Sideways
    78/ 20th Century Fox // IMDB

    #24. Sideways

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Oct. 22, 2004

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #60

    Wine snobs and film buffs alike adore this black comedy about two friends who have a series of adventures (and misadventures) through California’s Santa Ynez Valley. Starring Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, the film was nominated for five Oscars.

  • #23. Inside Out
    79/ Disney/Pixar // IMDB

    #23. Inside Out

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Jun. 19, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #59

    What if your feelings had personalities? That’s the idea explored in Pixar’s “Inside Out,” a colorful film about the emotions of a young girl who moves with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco. Her emotions are voiced by Amy Poehler (“Joy”), Phyllis Smith (“Sadness”), Lewis Black (“Anger”), Mindy Kaling (“Disgust”), and Bill Hader (“Fear”).

  • #22. The Hurt Locker
    80/ Summit Entertainment // IMDB

    #22. The Hurt Locker

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Jun. 26, 2009

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #57

    Kathryn Bigelow’s drama takes on the high-stakes world of bomb disposal. This story depicts a sergeant in the Iraq War (played by Jeremy Renner) who faces conflict with his squad for his unconventional methods.

  • #21. Mr. Turner
    81/ Simon Mein/Sony Pictures Classics // IMDB

    #21. Mr. Turner

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Dec. 19, 2014

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #56

    “Mr. Turner,” directed by Mike Leigh, covers the last 25 years in the life of the British painter J.M.W. Turner. The controversial figure had many affairs, including with a landlady and his housekeeper, and was known for his eccentric behavior.

  • #20. Killer of Sheep
    82/ Milestone Films // IMDB

    #20. Killer of Sheep

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Mar. 30, 2007

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #55

    Originally filmed and released in the late 1970s, the restored version of “Killer of Sheep” premiered at the 2007 Berlinale Film Festival. It details the story of Stan, a man living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. He works at a slaughterhouse, and tries to preserve his humanity. Though it is a fictional film, it was filmed on location.

  • #19. 45 Years
    83/ BFI Film Fund // IMDB

    #19. 45 Years

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Dec. 23, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #51

    In45 Years,” a husband and wife are about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, when the husband learns that the body of his long-lost former lover has been found in the Swiss Alps—a discovery which threatens to change their lives forever. This British film is based on a short story titled "In Another Country" by David Constantine.

  • #18. Dunkirk
    84/ Syncopy // IMDB

    #18. Dunkirk

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: Jul. 21, 2017

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #49

    Christopher Nolan—known for blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” and “Inception”—directed this war film. The movie, which has an ensemble cast, illuminates the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II, showing it from the perspectives of air, sea, and land.  

  • #17. Before Midnight
    85/ Sony Pictures Classics // IMDB

    #17. Before Midnight

    Metascore: 94

    Release date: May. 24, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #48

    In the final installment of the “Before Trilogy,” the two lovers (played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) reminisce on their lives together and how things might have been different. This time, the story is set during their vacation in Greece.

  • #16. WALL-E
    86/ Disney/Pixar // IMDB

    #16. WALL-E

    Metascore: 95

    Release date: Jun. 27, 2008

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #47

    Pixar’s sci-fi extravaganza “WALL-E” is about the last robot left on an abandoned Earth. He spends his days cleaning up trash until an encounter with a sleek space probe called EVE changes his life. Not only was this film by Andrew Stanton lauded for its beautiful art direction, but it was also beloved for its timely environmentalist message.

  • #15. A Separation
    87/ Sony Pictures Classics // IMDB

    #15. A Separation

    Metascore: 95

    Release date: Dec. 30, 2011

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #46

    This Iranian drama film is about the separation of a couple, and the fallout from their decision. In 2012, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. This was a big accomplishment—considering it was the first foreign language film to garner a nomination in that category in five years. Though it didn’t win, it did snag an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • #14. Zero Dark Thirty
    88/ Columbia Pictures Corporation // IMDB

    #14. Zero Dark Thirty

    Metascore: 95

    Release date: Dec. 19, 2012

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #45

    Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed film “The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty” stars Jessica Chastain as CIA operative Maya, who spearheads the SEAL team-led search for Osama bin Laden. The story is based on actual events.

  • #13. I Am Not Your Negro
    89/ ARTE Films // IMDB

    #13. I Am Not Your Negro

    Metascore: 95

    Release date: Dec. 9, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #42

    When he died, noted author and thinker James Baldwin left an unfinished manuscript, titled “Remember This House.” The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” uses archival footage and Baldwin’s own words to explore the story of this work along with the state of racial politics in America today.

  • #12. The Social Network
    90/ Columbia Pictures Corporation // IMDB

    #12. The Social Network

    Metascore: 95

    Release date: Oct. 1, 2010

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #41

    Today, billions of people around the globe use the social network Facebook. David Fincher’s snappy drama fictionalizes the roots of the company, starting with its complicated beginnings at Harvard. Fincher digs into the darker side of Facebook’s founding, from the friendship-ending legal fights to the ways social networking has changed human interaction.

  • #11. Carol
    91/ The Weinstein Company // IMDB

    #11. Carol

    Metascore: 95

    Release date: Nov. 20, 2015

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #38

    This bewitching drama follows the romance between an married woman named Carol (Cate Blanchett) and a young shopkeeper (Rooney Mara). Set in 1950s New York, the film is based on the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith.

  • #10. Spirited Away
    92/ Tokuma Shoten // IMDB

    #10. Spirited Away

    Metascore: 96

    Release date: Sep. 20, 2002

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #36

    Hayao Miyazaki, beloved Japanese director and founder of the animation studio Studio Ghibli, may be best-known for “Spirited Away.” The coming-of-age, animated fantasy is about a 10-year-old girl who enters the spirit world.

  • #9. Roma
    93/ Esperanto Filmoj // IMDB

    #9. Roma

    Metascore: 96

    Release date: Dec. 14, 2018

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #35

    In this black-and-white, semi-autobiographical movie, Alfonso Cuarón (who directed “Children of Men” and “Gravity”) takes viewers to 1970s Mexico City. It recounts a year in one household, examining the life of a housekeeper and the mother of four who employs her.

  • #8. Gravity
    94/ Warner Bros. // IMDB

    #8. Gravity

    Metascore: 96

    Release date: Oct. 4, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #34

    Another Alfonso Cuarón film focuses on a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) on her first space mission, and a veteran astronaut (George Clooney) on his last. When their shuttle is destroyed, the two of them are lost in space, fighting to survive.

  • #7. Ratatouille
    95/ Pixar Animation Studios // IMDB

    #7. Ratatouille

    Metascore: 96

    Release date: Jun. 29, 2007

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #31

    What would you do if you found out that your fancy French meal was made by a rat? That’s the premise of this 2007 Pixar film wherein a rat named Remy teams up with a garbage boy named Linguini to secretly become a chef.

  • #6. Manchester by the Sea
    96/ Claire_Folger/Amazon Studios // IMDB

    #6. Manchester by the Sea

    Metascore: 96

    Release date: Nov. 18, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #27

    Filmed in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, this drama was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, and was based on a story by actors Matt Damon and John Krasinki. When the main character’s brother dies, he must care for his teenage nephew. Though star Casey Affleck’s performance was lauded, even winning him an Oscar, he later came under fire for misconduct. As a result, he broke the tradition of presenting the Academy Award for Best Actress the next year.

  • #5. 12 Years a Slave
    97/ Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight Pictures // IMDB

    #5. 12 Years a Slave

    Metascore: 96

    Release date: Oct. 18, 2013

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #25

    Adapted from a slave memoir of the same name, this movie tells the real-life story of a free black man in New York (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is kidnapped and re-sold into slavery. During his 12th year of slavery, he has a chance meeting with a Canadian that changes his life. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture.

  • #4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
    98/ Mobra Films // IMDB

    #4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

    Metascore: 97

    Release date: Jan. 23, 2008

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #20

    Four months, three weeks, and two days: That’s how long a young Romanian woman has been pregnant. Aided by her university roommate, she seeks an illegal abortion. Directed by Cristian Mungiu, this film set in the late 1980s won the Cannes’ Palme d’Or.

  • #3. Pan's Labyrinth
    99/ New Line Cinema // IMDB

    #3. Pan's Labyrinth

    Metascore: 98

    Release date: Dec. 29, 2006

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #13

    Director Guillermo del Toro spins a twisted fairy tale with “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Set in Spain just after the Spanish Civil War, it relates the story of a young girl named Ofelia. Though her stepfather is a murderous military officer and her pregnant mother grows ill, Ofelia meets magical creatures who draw her into a whimsical, sometimes terrifying place called Pan’s Labyrinth.

  • #2. Moonlight
    100/ David Bornfriend // IMDB

    #2. Moonlight

    Metascore: 99

    Release date: Oct. 21, 2016

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #11

    The story of Chiron, a black boy living in Miami, is told in three parts. First, young Chiron befriends a drug dealer named Juan who becomes a father-figure to him. Next, he's an adolescent struggling to survive in a household with a crack-addicted mother. Finally, he's an adult man reckoning with how his life has turned out. Though this beautiful, emotional film was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture, the ceremony is largely known for a gaffe from the presenters, who accidentally announced the award as going to “La La Land” before they corrected themselves.

  • #1. Boyhood
    101/ IFC Films // IMDB

    #1. Boyhood

    Metascore: 100

    Release date: Jul. 11, 2014

    Rank on all-time Metacritic movie rankings: #5

    Richard Linklater knows how to dedicate himself to his art. He filmed “Boyhood,” which examines a kid’s life in Texas from age six to 18, over the course of 12 years. He began with only basic plot points and an ending for this coming-of-age epic. The rest of the story evolved over the course of more than a decade of filming.

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