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The Essentials

All eras have works of art that are fundamental to our understanding of not only the craft itself, but the culture from which it was created. The 21st century is still nascent, but it isn't too early to start creating a canon that demonstrates the heights to which film as an art form has reached since the year 2000. These are the essential films:



By Title

4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days
25th Hour
The Act of Killing
Adaptation
Almost Famous
Amal
Amelie
Amour
Animal Kingdom
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
Atonement
Away From Her
Bad Education
Barbara
Before Sunset
Beyond the Hills
Blue is the Warmest Color
Blue Valentine
Brokeback Mountain
Caché
Capturing the Friedmans
Certified Copy
Children of Men
A Christmas Tale
City of God
Control
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
The Departed
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Dogtooth
Donnie Darko (The Director's Cut)
Downfall
The Dreamers
Elephant
L'Enfant
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Faithless
Far From Heaven
The Ghost Writer
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Gomorra
Gosford Park
Grizzly Man
Happy-Go-Lucky
A History of Violence
House of Flying Daggers
How To Survive a Plague
How to Train Your Dragon
The Hurt Locker
I Am Love
Incendies
In the Mood for Love
Lady Vengeance
Late Marriage
Let the Right One In
The Lives of Others
The Look of Silence
Melancholia
Memento
Moon
Morvern Callar
Mother
Mulholland Drive
My Winnipeg
No Country For Old Men
Old Boy
Once
Pan's Labyrinth
Pariah
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Persepolis
Polytechnique
A Prophet
Rebelle
The Return
Revanche
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Saddest Music in the World
Searching For Sugar Man
The Selfish Giant
A Separation
Selma
Sex and Lucia
Silent Light
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
The Squid and the Whale
Synecdoche, New York
There Will Be Blood
This Is England
The Tree of Life
Tsotsi
Two Days One Night
Tyrannosaur
Under the Skin
Vera Drake
Volver
Wadjda
Waltz with Bashir
Whale Rider
The White Ribbon
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Yi Yi
You Can Count On Me
Young Adult


By Director
Tomas Alfredson
Let the Right One In

Haiffa al-Mansour
Wadjda

Pedro Almodovar
Bad Education
Volver

Robert Altman
Gosford Park

Paul Thomas Anderson
There Will Be Blood

Wes Anderson
The Royal Tenenbaums

Jacques Audiard
A Prophet

Clio Barnard
The Selfish Giant

Noah Baumbach
The Squid and the Whale

Malik Bendjelloul
Searching For Sugar Man

Bernardo Bertolucci
The Dreamers

Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker

Bong Joon-ho
Mother

John Carney
Once

Niki Caro
Whale Rider

Derek Cianfrance
Blue Valentine

Joel & Ethan Coen
No Country For Old Men

Paddy Considine
Tyrannosaur

Anton Corbijn
Control

David Cronenberg
A History of Violence

Cameron Crowe
Almost Famous

Alfonso Cuaron
Children of Men
Y Tu Mama Tambien

Christine Cynn
The Act of Killing

Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
L'Enfant
Two Days One Night

Dean DeBlois
How to Train Your Dragon

Guillermo Del Torro
Pan's Labyrinth

Arnaud Desplechin
A Christmas Tale

Andrew Dominik
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

Ava DuVernay
Selma

Asghar Farhadi
A Separation

Ari Folman
Waltz with Bashir

David France
How To Survive a Plague

Matteo Garrone
Gomorra

Jonathan Glazer
Under the Skin

Michel Gondry
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Luca Guadagnino
I Am Love

Michael Haneke
Amour
Caché
The White Ribbon

Todd Haynes
Far From Heaven

Werner Herzog
Grizzly Man

Gavin Hood
Tsotsi

Oliver Hirschbiegel
Downfall

Andrew Jarecki
Capturing the Friedmans

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Amelie

Duncan Jones
Moon

Spike Jonze
Adaptation

Charlie Kaufman
Synecdoche, New York

Abdellatif Kechiche
Blue is the Warmest Color

Richard Kelly
Donnie Darko (The Director's Cut)

Abbas Kiarostami
Certified Copy

Kim Ki-duk
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

Dover Kosashvili
Late Marriage

Zacharias Kunuk
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

Yorgos Lanthimos
Dogtooth

Ang Lee
Brokeback Mountain
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Spike Lee
25th Hour

Mike Leigh
Happy-Go-Lucky
Vera Drake

Richard Linklater
Before Sunset

Kenneth Lonergan
You Can Count On Me

Katia Lund
City of God

David Lynch
Mulholland Drive

Guy Maddin
My Winnipeg
The Saddest Music in the World

Terrence Malick
The Tree of Life

Shane Meadows
This Is England

Julio Medem
Sex and Lucia

Richie Mehta
Amal

Fernando Meirelles
City of God

Ben Michod
Animal Kingdom

Cristian Mungiu
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days
Beyond the Hills

Kim Nguyen
Rebelle

Christopher Nolan
Memento

Niel Arden Oplev
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Joshua Oppenheimer
The Act of Killing
The Look of Silence

Park Chan-wook
Lady Vengeance
Old Boy

Vincent Paronnaud
Persepolis

Christian Petzold
Barbara

Sarah Polley
Away From Her

Cristi Puiu
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Roman Polanski
The Ghost Writer

Lynne Ramsay
Morvern Callar

Dee Rees
Pariah

Jason Reitman
Young Adult

Carlos Reygadas
Silent Light

Chris Sanders
How to Train Your Dragon

Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis

Julian Schanbel
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Martin Scorsese
The Departed

Gotz Spielmann
Revanche

Tom Tykwer
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Liv Ullmann
Faithless

Gus Van Sant
Elephant

Denis Villeneuve
Incendies
Polytechnique

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
The Lives of Others

Lars von Trier
Melancholia

Wong Kar-wai
In the Mood for Love

Joe Wright
Atonement

Edward Yang
Yi Yi

Zhang Yimou
House of Flying Daggers

Andrey Zvyagintsev
The Return


By Year
2000
Almost Famous
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Faithless
In the Mood for Love
Memento
Yi Yi
You Can Count On Me

2001
Amelie
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
Gosford Park
Late Marriage
Mulholland Drive
The Royal Tenenbaums
Sex and Lucia
Y Tu Mama Tambien

2002
25th Hour
Adaptation
City of God
Far From Heaven
Morvern Callar
Whale Rider

2003
Capturing the Friedmans
The Dreamers
Elephant
Old Boy
The Return
The Saddest Music in the World
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

2004
Bad Education
Before Sunset
Donnie Darko (The Director's Cut)
Downfall
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
House of Flying Daggers
Vera Drake

2005
Brokeback Mountain
Caché
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
L'Enfant
Grizzly Man
A History of Violence
Lady Vengeance
The Squid and the Whale
Tsotsi

2006
Children of Men
The Departed
The Lives of Others
Pan's Labyrinth
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
This Is England
Volver

2007
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
Atonement
Away From Her
Control
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country For Old Men
Once
Persepolis
Silent Light
There Will Be Blood

2008
Amal
A Christmas Tale
Gomorra
Happy-Go-Lucky
Let the Right One In
My Winnipeg
Revanche
Synecdoche, New York
Waltz with Bashir

2009
A Prophet
Dogtooth
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Hurt Locker
Moon
Mother
Polytechnique
The White Ribbon

2010
Animal Kingdom
Blue Valentine
The Ghost Writer
How to Train Your Dragon
I Am Love
Incendies

2011
Certified Copy
Melancholia
Pariah
A Separation
The Tree of Life
Tyrannosaur
Young Adult

2012
Amour
Barbara
Beyond the Hills
How To Survive a Plague
Searching For Sugar Man
Rebelle

2013
The Act of Killing
Blue is the Warmest Color
The Selfish Giant
Wadjda

2014
Selma
Two Days One Night
Under the Skin

2015
The Look of Silence



By Country
Australia
Animal Kingdom

Austria
Amour
Caché
Downfall
Revanche
The White Ribbon

Belgium
Blue is the Warmest Color
L'Enfant
Two Days One Night

Brazil
City of God

Canada
Amal
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
Away From Her
Brokeback Mountain
A History of Violence
Incendies
My Winnipeg
Polytechnique
Rebelle
The Saddest Music in the World

China
House of Flying Daggers

Denmark
The Act of Killing
The Look of Silence
Melancholia

Finland
The Look of Silence

France
Amelie
Amour
Atonement
Blue is the Warmest Color
Caché
Certified Copy
A Christmas Tale
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Dreamers
The Ghost Writer
The Look of Silence
Melancholia
Mulholland Drive
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Persepolis
A Prophet
Sex and Lucia
Silent Light
Two Days One Night
The White Ribbon

Germany
Amour
Barbara
Caché
Downfall
The Ghost Writer
A History of Violence
The Lives of Others
Melancholia
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Silent Light
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
Wadjda
Whale Rider
The White Ribbon

Greece
Dogtooth

Hong Kong
House of Flying Daggers
In the Mood for Love

Indonesia
The Look of Silence

Iran
Certified Copy
Persepolis
A Separation

Ireland
Once

Israel
Late Marriage
The Look of Silence
Waltz with Bashir

Italy
Caché
Downfall
The Dreamers
Gomorra
I Am Love
Melancholia
Two Days One Night
The White Ribbon

Jordan
Wadjda

Mexico
Pan's Labyrinth
Silent Light
Y Tu Mama Tambien

Netherlands
The Look of Silence
Silent Light
Wadjda

New Zealand
Whale Rider

Norway
The Act of Killing
The Look of Silence

Romania
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days
Beyond the Hills
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Russia
The Return

Saudi Arabia
Wadjda

South Africa
Tsotsi

South Korea
Lady Vengeance
Mother
Old Boy
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

Spain
Bad Education
Blue is the Warmest Color
Pan's Labyrinth
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Sex and Lucia
Volver

Sweden
Faithless
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Let the Right One In
Melancholia
Searching For Sugar Man

Switzerland
Under the Skin

Taiwan
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Look of Silence
Yi Yi

United Arab Emirates
Wadjda

United Kingdom
The Act of Killing
Atonement
Children of Men
Control
The Dreamers
The Ghost Writer
Happy-Go-Lucky
The Look of Silence
Moon
Morvern Callar
Searching For Sugar Man
The Selfish Giant
Selma
This Is England
Tsotsi
Tyrannosaur
Under the Skin
Vera Drake

United States
25th Hour
Adaptation
Almost Famous
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
Before Sunset
Blue Valentine
Brokeback Mountain
Capturing the Friedmans
Control
The Departed
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Donnie Darko (The Director's Cut)
Elephant
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Far From Heaven
Gosford Park
Grizzly Man
A History of Violence
How To Survive a Plague
How to Train Your Dragon
The Hurt Locker
The Look of Silence
Memento
Mulholland Drive
No Country For Old Men
Pariah
Persepolis
The Royal Tenenbaums
Selma
The Squid and the Whale
Synecdoche, New York
There Will Be Blood
The Tree of Life
Under the Skin
Wadjda
You Can Count On Me
Young Adult

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