Best of the 21st Century (So Far)

Listers are impatient people and have been making “Best of the 21st Century (so far)” lists for years now, even though this century is less than three decades old. I’ve collected these lists and made meta-lists for the best films, books and music of the 21st Century so far. I published the first version of this meta-list in 2017, but I’ve been updating as I find new lists. Where I have seen a movie, read a book or listened to an album, I also provide my 1-10 rating.


On 19 lists
There Will Be Blood 
(US, 2007) Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (9/10)

On 15 lists
Spirited Away
 (Japan, 2001) Director: Hayao Miyazaki (9/10)
No Country for Old Men 
(US, 2007) Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen (10/10)

On 14 lists
Mulholland Drive (US, 2001) Director: David Lynch (10/10)
The Social Network
(US, 2010) Director: David Fincher (8/10)

On 13 lists
Boyhood (US, 2014) Director: Richard Linklater (10/10)

On 12 lists
The Hurt Locker (US, 2008)  Director: Kathryn Bigelow (8/10)
(US, 2016) Director: Barry Jenkins (10/10)

On 11 lists
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Zealand/US, 2001) Director: Peter Jackson (10/10)
Before Sunset (US, 2004) Director: Richard Linklater (9/10)
Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico/Spain, 2006) Director: Guillermo del Toro (9/10)
The Dark Knight (US, 2008) Director: Christopher Nolan
A Separation (Iran, 2011) Director: Asghar Farhadi (9/10)

On 10 lists
In the Mood for Love (China, 2000) Director: Wong Kar-Wai (10/10)
Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Taiwan, 2000) Director: Edward Yang (10/10)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (New Zealand/US, 2003) Director: Peter Jackson (10/10)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (US, 2004)  Director: Michel Gondry (10/10)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania, 2007) Director: Cristian Mungiu (10/10)
Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia, 2015) Director: George Miller (7/10)

On 9 lists
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(Taiwan/US, 2000)  Director: Ang Lee (8/10)
City of God (Cidade de Deus) 
(Brazil, 2002) Director: Fernando Meirelles with Kátia Lund (9/10)
Lost in Translation (US, 2003) Director: Sofia Coppola (8/10)
WALL-E (US, 2008) Director: Andrew Stanton (5/10)

On 8 lists

The Royal Tenenbaums (US, 2001) Director: Wes Anderson (10/10)
Brokeback Mountain (US, 2005) Director: Ang Lee (7/10)
A Prophet (France, 2009) Director: Jacques Audiard (9/10)
12 Years a Slave (UK/US, 2013) Director: Steve McQueen
Inside Llewyn Davis (US, 2013) Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen (9/10)

On 7 lists
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (New Zealand/US, 2002) Director: Peter Jackson (9/10)
Caché (Hidden) (France, 2005) Director: Michael Haneke (9/10)
Children of Men (US/UK, 2006) Director: Alfonso Cuarón (9/10)
Zodiac (US, 2007) Director: David Fincher (8/10)
Zero Dark Thirty (US, 2012) Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Under the Skin (UK/US, 2013) Director: Jonathan Glazer (9/10)

On 6 lists

Memento (US, 2000) Director: Christopher Nolan (9/10)
Werckmeister Harmonies (Hungary, 2000) Directors: Béla Tarr with Ágnes Hranitzky
Far From Heaven (US, 2002) Director: Todd Haynes
Almost Famous (US, 2000) Director: Cameron Crowe (9/10)
Oldboy (South Korea, 2003) Director: Park Chan-Wook
The Incredibles (US, 2004) Director: Brad Bird (8/10)
Sideways (US, 2004) Director: Alexander Payne (8/10)
Dogville (Denmark/Netherlands, 2004) Director: Lars Von Trier (10/10)
Grizzly Man (US, 2005) Director: Werner Herzog (10/10)
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) (Germany, 2006) Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (10/10)
The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte) (Germany/Austria, 2009) Director: Michael Haneke (10/10)
Ida (Poland, 2013) Director: Pawel Pawilkowski (9/10)
Her (US, 2013) Director: Spike Jonze (9/10)
Timbuktu (Mauritania/France, 2014) Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Inside Out (US, 2015) Directors: Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen (6/10)

On 5 Lists

Amélie (France, 2001) Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet (9/10)
Finding Nemo (US, 2003) Director: Andrew Stanton (7/10)
Moolaadé (Senegal, 2004) Director: Ousmane Sembène
L’Enfant (The Child) (Belgium/France, 2005) Dir: Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
Waltz With Bashir (Israel, 2008) Director: Ari Folman (9/10)
Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) (Sweden, 2008) Director: Tomas Alfredson (8/10)
Inception (US, 2010) Director: Christopher Nolan (4/10)
The Tree of Life (US, 2011) Director: Terence Malick (10/10)
Stories We Tell (Canada, 2012) Director: Sarah Polley
The Wolf of Wall Street (US, 2013) Director: Martin Scorsese (8/10)
Roma (Mexico/US, 2018) Director: Alfonso Cuarón (9/10)
Shoplifters (Japan, 2018) Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda

On 4 Lists

Requiem for a Dream (US, 2000) Director: Darren Aronofsky (10/10)
The Gleaners and I (France, 2000) Director: Agnès Varda
Y Tu Mamá Tambien (Mexico, 2001) Dir: Alfonso Cuarón (8/10)
Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) (Spain, 2002) Director: Pedro Almodóvar (10/10)
Tropical Malady (Thailand, 2004) Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
A History of Violence (US, 2005) Director: David Cronenberg (9/10)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (UK/US, 2006) Director: Larry Charles (8/10)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, 2006) Dir: Cristi Puiu
Slumdog Millionaire (UK/India, 2008) Director: Danny Boyle (10/10)
A Serious Man (US/UK/France, 2009) Directors: Joel Coen/Ethan Coen) (8/10)
White Material (France/Cameroon, 2010) Director: Claire Denis
Fish Tank (UK, 2010) Director: Andrea Arnold (8/10)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand, 2010) Dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Margaret (US, 2011) Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Bridesmaids (US, 2011) Dir: Paul Feig (6/10)
The Turin Horse (Hungary/France/Germany, 2011) Dir: Béla Tarr
The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway/US, 2012) Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer (10/10)
The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) (Italy, 2013) Director: Paolo Sorrentino (9/10)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (US/Germany, 2014) Director: Wes Anderson
Manchester by the Sea (US, 2016) Dir: Kenneth Longergan (9/10)
Get Out (US, 2017) Dir: Jordan Peele (8/10)
I Am Not Your Negro (Switzerland/France/Belgium/US, 2017) Dir: Raoul Peck
Call Me By Your Name (Italy/France/Brazil/US, 2017) Dir: Luca Guadagnino
Burning (South Korea, 2018) Dir: Lee Chang-dong (9/10)

On 3 Lists

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (US, 2001) Director: Steven Spielberg
Punch-Drunk Love (US, 2002) Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (8/10)
The Pianist (France/Poland, 2002) Director: Roman Polanski (8/10)
25th Hour (US, 2002) Director: Spike Lee
 (US, 2003) Director: Gus Van Sant (8/10)
Munich (US, 2005) Director: Steven Spielberg
Casino Royale (UK/US, 2006) Dir: Martin Campbell (7/10)
Eastern Promises (UK/Canada/US, 2007) Director: David Cronenberg (7/10)
Ratatouille (US, 2007) Dir: Brad Bird (5/10)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France, 2007) Dir: Julian Schnabel (8/10)
Persepolis (France, 2007) Dir: Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud (8/10)
Summer Hours (France, 2008) Dir: Olivier Assayas
Wendy and Lucy (US, 2008) Dir: Kelly Reichardt (7/10)
35 Shots of Rum (France/Germany, 2008) Dir: Claire Denis
Bright Star (UK/Australia/France, 2009) Dir: Jane Campion (7/10)
Dogtooth (Greece, 2010) Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (8/10)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
(Turkey, 2011) Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Weekend (UK, 2011) Dir: Andrew Haigh
Amour (France/Germany/Austria, 2012) Dir: Michael Haneke (9/10)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (US, 2012) Dir: Benh Zeitlin (9/10)
Holy Motors (France/Germany, 2012) Dir: Leos Carax
Gravity (US/UK, 2013) Dir: Alfonso Cuarón (6/10)
Leviathan (Russia, 2014) Dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Spotlight (US, 2015) Dir: Tom McCarthy (9/10)
Carol (US/UK, 2015) Dir: Todd Haynes
Son of Saul (Hungary, 2015) Dir: László Nemes (9/10)
Toni Erdmann (Germany/Austria/Romania, 2016) Dir: Maren Ade
Lady Bird (US, 2017) Dir: Greta Gerwig (9/10)
The Favourite (UK/Ireland/US, 2018) Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos (10/10)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France, 2019) Dir: Céline Sciamma (9/10)
Parasite (South Korea, 2019) Dir: Bong Joon Ho (9/10)
Marriage Story (US, 2019) Dir: Noah Baumbach (9/10)
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (US/UK, 2020) Dir: Eliza Hittman
Drive My Car (Japan, 2021) Dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
The Power of the Dog (New Zealand/Australia, 2021) Dir: Jane Campion (9/10)


On 12 Lists
Elephant (2003) – The White Stripes (8/10)

On 8 Lists
Stankonia (2000) – OutKast (8/10)
Kid A (2000) – Radiohead (8/10)
Is This It (2001) – The Strokes (8/10)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) – Kanye West (8/10)

On 7 Lists
Discovery (2001) – Daft Punk
Funeral (2004) – Arcade Fire (10/10)
Fleet Foxes (2008) – Fleet Foxes (8/10)

On 6 Lists
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006) – Arctic Monkeys (8/10)
Back to Black (2006) – Amy Winehouse (9/10)
Sound of Silver (2007) – LCD Soundsystem (8/10)
In Rainbows (2007) – Radiohead (8/10)
Channel Orange (2012) – Frank Ocean (7/10)

On 5 Lists
The Blueprint (2001) – Jay-Z
American Idiot (2004) – Green Day (9/10)
Let England Shake (2011) – PJ Harvey (10/10)

On 4 Lists
The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) – Eminem
Vespertine (2001) – Björk (9/10)
Original Pirate Material (2002) – The Streets
Fever to Tell (2003) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (10/10)
The Black Album (2003) – Jay-Z
The College Dropout (2004) – Kanye West (8/10)
xx (2009) – The xx (9/10)
Lost in the Dream (2014) – The War on Drugs (9/10)
To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) – Kendrick Lamar

On 3 Lists
Relationship of Command (2000) – At the Drive-In
Up the Bracket (2002) – The Libertines
Songs for the Deaf (2002) – Queens of the Stone Age
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) – Wilco (10/10)
I Am A Bird Now (2005) – Antony and the Johnsons (9/10)
Savane (2006) – Ali Farka Touré (9/10)
Donuts (2006) – J Dilla
Sam’s Town (2006) – The Killers
Untrue (2007) – Burial
For Emma, Forever Ago (2007) – Bon Iver (8/10)
The ’59 Sound (2008) – The Gaslight Anthem
Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (2012) – Kendrick Lamar
Modern Vampires of the City (2013) – Vampire Weekend (8/10)
Black Messiah (2014) – D’Angelo

On 2 Lists
All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) – U2 (10/10)
White Pony (2000) – Deftones
Rated R (2000) – Queens of the Stone Age
Voodoo (2000) – D’Angelo
Parachutes (2000) – Coldplay
The Teaches of Peaches (2000) – Peaches
Weezer [The Green Album] (2001) – Weezer (8/10)
Lateralus (2001) – Tool
Toxicity (2001) – System of a Down (8/10)
Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001) – Tinariwen
Time (the Revelator) (2001) – Gillian Welch
Songs in A Minor (2001) – Alicia Keys (8/10)
American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) – Johnny Cash (8/10)
In Search Of…  (2002) – N*E*R*D 
( ) (2002) – Sigur Rós (9/10)
Justified (2002) – Justin Timberlake
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003) – Outkast (8/10)
Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004) – My Chemical Romance 
A Grand Don’t Come for Free (2004) – The Streets
Madvillainy (2004) – Madvillain
Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) – Kings of Leon
Hot Fuss (2004) – The Killers (8/10)
The Woods (2005) – Sleater-Kinney (9/10)
Illinois (2005) – Sufjan Stevens (10/10)
Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike (2005) – Gogol Bordello (9/10)
Arular (2005) – M.I.A. (9/10)
Late Registration (2005) – Kanye West
Raising Sand (2007) – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (8/10)
Sky Blue Sky (2007) – Wilco (8/10)
Kala (2007) – M.I.A. (8/10)
Dear Science (2008) – TV on the Radio (9/10)
Third (2008) – Portishead (8/10)
808s and Heartache (2008) – Kanye West
Vampire Weekend (2008) – Vampire Weekend (8/10)
London Zoo (2008) – The Bug
Middle Cyclone (2009) – Neko Case (9/10)
The Hazards of Love (2009) – The Decemberists (9/10)
The ArchAndroid (2010) – Janelle Monae (8/10)
Take Care (2011) – Drake
AM (2013) – Arctic Monkeys (7/10)
Trouble Will Find Me (2013) – The National (7/10)
Beyoncé (2013) – Beyoncé
Yeezus (2013) – Kanye West
Morning Phase (2014) – Beck (9/10)
Skeleton Tree (2016) – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Lemonade (2016) – Beyoncé
Damn (2017) – Kendrick Lamar


On 9 Lists
The Corrections (US, 2001). By Jonathan Franzen [fiction: novel] (8/10)
The Road (US, 2006). By Cormac McCarthy [fiction: novel] (10/10)

On 8 Lists
(UK, 2001). By Ian McEwan [fiction: novel] (10/10)
Oryx and Crake (Canada, 2003). By Margaret Atwood [fiction: novel]
Gilead (US, 2004). By Marilynne Robinson [fiction: novel] (8/10)

On 7 Lists
White Teeth (UK, 2000). By Zadie Smith [fiction: novel] (10/10)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (US, 2000). By Michael Chabon [fiction: novel] (8/10)
Middlesex (US, 2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides [fiction: novel] (10/10)
Cloud Atlas (UK, 2004). By David Mitchell [fiction: novel] (8/10)
The Year of Magical Thinking (US, 2005). By Joan Didion [nonfiction: memoir] (10/10)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Dominican Republic/US, 2007). By Junot Díaz [fiction: novel]

On 6 Lists
Persepolis (Iran/France, 2000). By Marjane Satrapi [nonfiction: memoir]
Austerlitz (Germany, 2001). By W. G. Sebald [fiction: novel] (10/10)
Never Let Me Go (UK, 2005). By Kazuo Ishiguro [fiction: novel] (10/10)
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (US, 2006). By Michael Pollan [nonfiction: food] (10/10)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK, 2007). By J. K. Rowling [fiction: novel]
Wolf Hall (UK, 2009). By Hilary Mantel [fiction: novel]
Gone Girl (US, 2012). By Gillian Flynn [fiction: novel]

On 5 Lists
American Gods
(UK, 2001). By Neil Gaiman [fiction: novel]
Kafka on the Shore
(Japan, 2002). By Haruki Murakami [fiction: novel] (8/10)
The Namesake (US, 2003). By Jhumpa Lahiri [fiction: novel]
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (UK, 2003). By Mark Haddon [fiction: novel] (6/10)
The Kite Runner (Afghanistan/US, 2003). By Khaled Hosseini [fiction: novel]
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (UK, 2004). By Susanna Clarke [fiction: novel]
The Line of Beauty (UK, 2004). By Alan Hollinghurst [fiction: novel] (8/10)
2666 (Chile, 2004). By Roberto Bolaño [fiction: novel]
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden, 2005). By Stieg Larsson [fiction: novel]

On 4 Lists
True History of the Kelly Gang
(Australia, 2000) By Peter Carey [fiction: novel] (8/10)
Bel Canto (US, 2001). By Ann Patchett [fiction: novel]
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (US, 2003). By Erik Larson [nonfiction: history]
The Plot Against America (US, 2004). By Philip Roth [fiction: novel] (8/10)
No Country for Old Men (US, 2005). By Cormac McCarthy [fiction: novel]
The Book Thief (Australia, 2005). By Markus Zusak [fiction: novel]
A Visit from the Goon Squad (US, 2010). By Jennifer Egan [fiction: novel]
The Art of Fielding (US, 2011). By Chad Harbach [fiction: novel]
The Neapolitan Novels (four books) (Italy, 2012-2015). By Elena Ferrante [fiction: novels] (10/10)

On 3 Lists
The Amber Spyglass
(UK, 2000). By Philip Pullman [fiction: novel]
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (UK, 2000). By J. K. Rowling [fiction: novel]
The Blind Assassin (Canada, 2000). By Margaret Atwood [fiction: novel]
Me Talk Pretty One Day (US, 2000). By David Sedaris [nonfiction: memoir/essays]
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (US, 2000). By Dave Eggers [nonfiction: memoir] (10/10)
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Canada, 2000). By Malcolm Gladwell [nonfiction: psychology/sociology]
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (US, 2000). By Stephen King [nonfiction: memoir/writing]
The Secret Life of Bees (US, 2001). By Sue Monk Kidd [fiction: novel]
Life of Pi (Canada, 2001). By Yann Martel [fiction: novel]
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (US, 2001). By Barbara Ehrenreich  [nonfiction: journalism/sociology] (8/10)
Coraline (UK, 2002). By Neil Gaiman [fiction: novella]
Fingersmith (UK, 2002). By Sarah Waters [fiction: novel]
The Time Traveler’s Wife (US, 2003). By Audrey Niffenegger [fiction: novel]
The Known World (US, 2003). By Edward P Jones [fiction: novel] (10/10)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (UK, 2003). By J. K. Rowling [fiction: novel]
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (UK, 2003). By Lynne Truss [nonfiction: language]
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (UK, 2005). By J. K. Rowling [fiction: novel]
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (US, 2005). By Steven D. Levitt [nonfiction: economics]
The Thirteenth Tale (UK, 2006). By Diane Setterfield [fiction: novel]
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (US, 2006). By Alison Bechdel [nonfiction: graphic memoir] (8/10)
The Name of the Wind (US, 2007). By Patrick Rothfuss [fiction: novel]
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (US, 2007) By Michael Chabon [fiction: novel] (8/10)
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time (US, 2007). By Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin [nonfiction: memoir/journalism]
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Canada, 2007). By Naomi Klein [nonfiction: economics]
The Hunger Games (US, 2008). By Suzanne Collins [fiction: novel]
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (US, 2008). By Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows [fiction: novel]
The Hemingses of Monticello (US, 2008). By Annette Gordon-Reed [nonfiction: biography] (10/10)
The Help (US, 2009). By Kathryn Stockett [fiction: novel]
My Struggle (six books) (Norway, 2009-2011). By Karl Ove Knausgård [fiction: novels]
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (UK, 2010). By David Mitchell [fiction: novel]
Freedom (US, 2010). By Jonathan Franzen [fiction: novel]
IQ84 (Japan, 2010). By Haruki Murakami [fiction: novel]
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (US, 2010). By Rebecca Skloot [nonfiction: biography/science] (8/10)
The Night Circus (US, 2011). By Erin Morgenstern [fiction: novel]
The Sense of an Ending (UK, 2011) by Julian Barnes [fiction: novel]
Thinking, Fast and Slow (Israel/US, 2011). By Daniel Kahneman [nonfiction: psychology/economics]
The Fault in Our Stars (US, 2012). By John Green [fiction: novel]
Citizen: An American Lyric (Jamaica/US, 2014). By Claudia Rankine [nonfiction: criticism/poetry]

On 2 Lists (nonfiction only)
Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
(Russia, 1997; English translation, 2005). By Svetlana Alexievich [nonfiction: journalism/oral history]
London: The Biography (UK, 2000). By Peter Ackroyd [nonfiction: history] (8/10)
John Adams (US, 2001). By David McCullough [nonfiction: biography] (10/10)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (US/UK, 2003). By Bill Bryson [nonfiction: science] (10/10)
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Canada, 2005). By Malcolm Gladwell [nonfiction: psychology]
The Glass Castle (US, 2005). By Jeannette Walls [nonfiction: memoir] (6/10)
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (US, 2006). By Elizabeth Gilbert [nonfiction: memoir]
Enrique’s Journey (US, 2006). By Sonia Nazario [nonfiction: journalism]
The God Delusion (UK, 2006). By Richard Dawkins [nonfiction: science/religion]
Zeitoun (US, 2009). By Dave Eggers [nonfiction: journalism] (8/10)
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (US, 2009). By Chris McDougall [nonfiction: journalism/memoir]
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (US, 2011). By Stephen Greenblatt [nonfiction: history/criticism] (8/10)
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (US, 2012). By Susan Cain [nonfiction]
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (US, 2012). By Cheryl Strayed [nonfiction: memoir] (6/10)
Priestdaddy (US, 2017). By Patricia Lockwood [nonfiction: memoir]