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Denis Villeneuve, Sofia Coppola and More Filmmakers Pick the Best Films of the 21st Century

One thing both filmmakers can agree on: Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin" is an absolute masterpiece.

"Under the Skin"

“Under the Skin”

Picking the best movies of any year is hard, but picking the best movies of an entire century is harder. IndieWire critics Eric Kohn and David Ehrlich made their own top 10 picks for the 21st century last summer, with Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” and Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” taking the top spots, and now some of the best filmmakers in the business have weighed in with their own choices in a new survey from The New York Times.

READ MORE: Sofia Coppola Has No Interest in Making a Blockbuster or a Sequel

The newspaper reached out to the likes of Coppola, Denis Villeneuve, Antoine Fuqua, Alex Gibney and more to pick their brains on what is the best cinema has been over the last 17 years, and their answers are as expected (of course “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” have a mention or two) as they are flat out surprising (who knew Sofia Coppola loved the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy “Daddy’s Home” so much?).

Coppola admits to being more attracted to “subdued movies,” which is hardly a surprise given her own filmography, but her list is extremely eclectic. Two picks that stand out are modern science-fiction classics “Under the Skin,” which she describes as “so weird and so innovative,” and Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina.” Her reasoning for the latter: Oscar Isaac’s iconic dancing scene. We agree with you, Sofia.

Her top 10 picks include:

“Force Majeure” (2014)
“The White Ribbon” (2009)
“The Savages” (2007)
“Head-On” (2005)
“Daddy’s Home” (2015)
“Under the Skin” (2014)
“The Incredibles” (2004)
“Together” (2001)
“Grizzly Man” (2005)
“Ida” (2014)
“Fish Tank” (2010)
“Ex Machina” (2015)

Villeneuve, meanwhile, got stuck in a debate with himself over the #1 spot between the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood.” Both films were released in 2007, and many cinephiles have been in the same position having to choose between them as to which is their favorite.

“There are specific shots that went directly through my skull, like a bullet spreading particles of my brain on my walls,” he says about watching both movies. “Like the shot of Daniel Day-Lewis baptizing a baby with oil, making ‘There Will Be Blood’ an instant new classic. [In ‘No Country for Old Men’], the image of the policeman’s boots making dark marks on the floor as he is being strangled by the nightmarish killer has haunted me since then.”

The “Arrival” filmmaker doesn’t stop there. He goes on to praise Yorgos Lanthimos as “one of the most exciting filmmakers working today,” citing “Dogtooth” in his list of the best of the 21st century. He’s also a huge fan of Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet.” Villeneuve says the scene in which a deer is killed by a car in slow motion includes “one of the most powerful cinematic shots of the last decade.”

His favorite films include:

“No Country For Old Men” (2007)
“There Will Be Blood” (2007)
“Children of Men” (2006)
“Inception” (2010)
“Amores Perros” (2001)
“Dogville” (2004)
“Under the Skin” (2014)
“A Prophet” (2010)
“Dogtooth” (2010)

Head over to The New York Times for the complete rundown of directors and their favorite movies.

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