the 21st century
world cinema update

21st century, take two

I was looking at the wrong list when I posted yesterday. Here, then, are the real Top Ten Films from the 21st Century That I Haven’t Seen:

  • The Social Network
  • Punch-Drunk Love
  • Caché
  • The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
  • The Incredibles
  • Syndromes and a Century
  • Dogville
  • Zhantai
  • Still Life
  • The Gleaners & I

A few comments on the above, since I screwed up on the earlier post and should add some value to this corrective. I read a piece recently … can’t recall where so I can’t link to it … that pointed out we are living in a time when world cinema is at a peak. Americans don’t always notice, but it’s pretty obvious, not just from the above list, but from my own tastes as expressed on this blog over the years.

The end of the “Golden Era” of American film is often marked by the release of Jaws, a wonderful movie that introduced the blockbuster-or-die approach solidified by the Star Wars movies. But it occurs to me there is another, later, marker that shows how even the big action picture has devolved. The Terminator (1984) was one of the greatest action movies of all time. It cost about $6.5 million to make, and took in upwards of $75 million worldwide. Seven years later, when James Cameron made the sequel, the budget was more than $100 million. It took in more than $500 million worldwide. But, more importantly for our purposes, it wasn’t as good a movie as the original. In 1984, it was still possible to make a dynamic action picture on a streamlined budget. By 1991, the budgets were no longer streamlined, the action pictures were increasingly bloated, and now Michael Bay is the exemplar of the American action-film director.

Lucky for us that world cinema is in one of its peak periods. And, of course, lucky for us that while there are still movies like Salt (budget $110 million for a middling action pic), America can also still turn out movies like Winter’s Bone, my favorite movie of 2010, which cost around $2 million to make.