Acclaimed, austere filmmakers: They’re just like us! The New York Times recently unveiled its list “25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far,” and on an off year, because how is 2017 a milestone except that it’s the year You Know Who took office? And it’s a fine list, which is to say it’s a mixture of greats we can all agree are greats (“There Will Be Blood,” etc.), relative diamonds in the rough (Jia Zhang-ke’s “Touch of Sin”), underrated films by terrific directors (Claire Denis’ “White Material”) and populist fare that will spark Discussion (“Inside Out,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).
The Times also added an appendix: They reached out to six filmmakers to provide their own list of favorite movies from the 2000s. And this is how we learned that Sofia Coppola is a giant fan of “Daddy’s Home,” the 2015 comedy in which Mark Wahlberg plays the cool dad who infringes upon the life of uncool dad Will Ferrell.
Normally, we’d take umbrage with her; why not “The Other Guys,” the vastly superior Marky Mark-Ferrell outing? But Coppola explains that it’s “the only film my kids and I equally enjoy together!” And we love that the director of “The Virgin Suicides” and the new “The Beguiled” chills out with a lowest-common-denominator yukfest whose only semi-memorable scene features Ferrell crashing a motorcycle into his suburban manse. (For the record, she also picked “Under the Skin” and “Force Majeure.”)
The chosen filmmakers are an eclectic lot, mostly American, with one Canadian (“Arrival”’s Denis Villeneuve). For the most part, they stick to celebrated fare: “Fences” (Fuqua), “Zero Dark Thirty” (Fuqua again), “Ex Machina” (Coppola), “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (Brett Ratner), “Spirited Away” (Alex Gibney). Villeneuve included “No Country for Old Men” but also both “Dogtooth,” from “The Lobster” director Yorgos Lanthimos, and Lars von Trier’s “Dogville.”
But some big fare slipped in. Fuqua cited “Avatar.” Paul Feig stayed Paul Feig, naming a lot of comedies, including “Love Actually.” Then again, he also included last year’s terrific Turkish-French drama “Mustang,” about a gaggle of sisters fighting against the patriarchy.
The most fascinating list (after Coppola’s), though, belongs to Brett Ratner. Among cinephiles, the director of "Money Talks" and "Tower Heist" is a bit of a joke, and not without reason. (See this classic picture.) And while he picked “Borat,” his list betrays a more serious, nerdy, even personal side. He chose two films by Jonathan Glazer: “Sexy Beast” and “Birth,” ensuring that, with Coppola’s “Under the Skin” citation, the filmmaker’s entire filmography is represented. Ratner also dropped in “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” a complicated, semi-sympathetic doc on the controversial filmmaker, who’s also, by the way, one of his dear friends. And by the way, did you know Ratner has his own publishing company, Rat Press, which recently released a comprehensive biography of Jean Renoir? Fascinating guy, that guy who directed three “Rush Hour”s.
The entire list can be found here, with the filmmakers' comments.