Best of the 21st Century (So Far)

Listers are impatient people and have been making “Best of the 21st Century (so far)” lists for several years now, even though this century is less than two 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 will update as new lists come out.  This version is from 2017, but some of the lists are as old as 2012, so the second decade of the century is not well-represented.  Where I have seen a movie, read a book or listened to an album, I also provide my 1-10 rating.


On 7 Lists
Mulholland Drive (US, 2001)  Director: David Lynch (JMB: 10/10)

On 6 Lists
City of God (Cidade de Deus) (Brazil, 2002)  Director: Fernando Meirelles (JMB: 9/10)
No Country for Old Men (US, 2007)  Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen (JMB: 10/10)

On 5 Lists
In the Mood for Love
(China, 2000)  Director: Wong Kar-Wai (JMB: 10/10)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Zealand/US, 2001)  Director: Peter Jackson (JMB: 10/10)
Caché (Hidden) (France, 2005)  Director: Michael Haneke (JMB: 9/10)
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) (Germany, 2006)  Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (JMB: 10/10)
There Will Be Blood (US, 2007)  Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (JMB: 9/10)
The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte) (Germany, 2009) Director: Michael Haneke (JMB: 10/10)

On 4 Lists
Amélie (France, 2001)  Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet (JMB: 9/10)
Spirited Away (Japan, 2001)  Director: Hayao Miyazaki (JMB: 9/10)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (New Zealand/US, 2002)  Director: Peter Jackson (JMB: 9/10)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (New Zealand/US, 2003)  Director: Peter Jackson (JMB: 10/10)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (US, 2004)  Director: Michel Gondry (JMB: 10/10)
Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico/Spain, 2006) Director: Guillermo del Toro
Zodiac (US, 2007)  Director: David Fincher (JMB: 8/10)
Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) (Sweden, 2008)  Director: Tomas Alfredson (JMB: 8/10)
The Dark Knight (US, 2008)  Director: Christopher Nolan
The Tree of Life (US, 2011)  Director: Terence Malick (JMB: 10/10)

On 3 Lists
Memento (US, 2000)  Director: Christopher Nolan (JMB: 9/10)
Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Taiwan, 2000)  Director: Edward Yang (JMB: 10/10)
The Royal Tenenbaums (US, 2001)  Director: Wes Anderson (JMB: 10/10)
Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) (Spain, 2002)  Director: Pedro Almodóvar (JMB: 10/10)
Punch-Drunk Love (US, 2002)  Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (JMB: 8/10)
Oldboy (South Korea, 2003) Director: Park Chan-Wook
Elephant (US, 2003) Director: Gus Van Sant  (JMB: 8/10)
The Incredibles (US, 2004)  Director: Brad Bird (JMB: 8/10)
Children of Men (US/UK, 2006)  Director: Alfonso Cuarón (JMB: 9/10)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania, 2007)  Director: Cristian Mungiu (JMB: 10/10)
12 Years A Slave (UK/US, 2013)  Director: Steve McQueen
Boyhood (US, 2014)  Director: Richard Linklater (JMB: 10/10)


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

On 7 Lists
Stankonia (2000) – OutKast (JMB 8/10)

On 6 Lists
Kid A (2000) – Radiohead (JMB 8/10)
Is This It (2001) – The Strokes (JMB 9/10)
Discovery (2001) – Daft Punk
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) – Kanye West (JMB 8/10)

On 5 Lists
Funeral (2004) – Arcade Fire (JMB 10/10)
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006) – Arctic Monkeys (JMB 8/10)
Sound of Silver (2007) – LCD Soundsystem (JMB 8/10)
In Rainbows (2007) – Radiohead (JMB 8/10)
Fleet Foxes (2008) – Fleet Foxes (JMB 8/10)

On 4 Lists
American Idiot (2004) – Green Day (JMB 9/10)
Back to Black (2006) – Amy Winehouse (JMB 9/10)
Let England Shake (2011) – PJ Harvey (JMB 10/10)
Channel Orange (2012) – Frank Ocean (JMB 7/10)

On 3 Lists
The Blueprint (2001) – Jay-Z
Vespertine (2001) – Bjork (JMB 9/10)
Up the Bracket (2002) – The Libertines
Songs for the Deaf (2002) – Queens of the Stone Age
Original Pirate Material (2002) – The Streets
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) – Wilco (JMB 10/10)
Fever to Tell (2003) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (JMB 10/10)
Savane (2006) – Ali Farka Touré (JMB 9/10)
xx (2009) – The xx (JMB 9/10)
Lost In The Dream (2014) – The War On Drugs (JMB 9/10)

On 2 Lists
Relationship of Command (2000) – At The Drive In 
The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) – Eminem
Rated R (2000) – Queens of the Stone Age
Weezer [The Green Album] (2001) – Weezer (JMB 8/10)
Lateralus (2001) – Tool
Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001) – Tinariwen  
Time (the Revelator) (2001) – Gillian Welch
American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) – Johnny Cash
( ) (2002) – Sigur Rós (JMB 9/10)
The Black Album (2003) – Jay-Z
Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004) – My Chemical Romance
A Grand Don’t Come for Free (2004) – The Streets
Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) – Kings of Leon
College Dropout (2004) – Kanye West (JMB 8/10)
I Am A Bird Now (2005) – Antony and the Johnsons (JMB 9/10)
Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike (2005) – Gogol Bordello (JMB 9/10)
Sam’s Town (2006) – The Killers  
Donuts (2006) – J Dilla
Untrue (2007) – Burial 
Raising Sand (2007) – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (JMB 8/10)
For Emma, Forever Ago (2007) – Bon Iver (JMB 8/10)
Sky Blue Sky (2007) – Wilco (JMB 8/10)
Dear Science (2008) – TV on the Radio (JMB 9/10)
808s and Heartache (2008) – Kanye West 
The ’59 Sound (2008) – The Gaslight Anthem
The Hazards of Love (2009) – The Decemberists
Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (2012) – Kendrick Lamar  
AM (2013) – Arctic Monkeys (JMB 7/10)
Black Messiah (2014) – D’Angelo
To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) – Kendrick Lamar


On 7 Lists
The Corrections (2001). By Jonathan Franzen (JMB 8/10)

On 6 Lists
White Teeth (2000). By Zadie Smith (JMB 10/10)
Atonement (2001). By Ian McEwan (JMB 10/10)
Middlesex (2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides (JMB 10/10)
The Road (2006). By Cormac McCarthy
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007). By Junot Díaz

5 Lists
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). By Michael Chabon (JMB 8/10)
Kafka on the Shore (2002). By Haruki Murakami (JMB 8/10)
The Namesake (2003). By Jhumpa Lahiri
Oryx and Crake (2003). By Margaret Atwood
Gilead (2004). By Marilynne Robinson (JMB 8/10)
Cloud Atlas (2004). By David Mitchell (JMB 8/10)
Persepolis (2000). By Marjane Satrapi

4 Lists
(2001). By W. G. Sebald (JMB 10/10)
American Gods (2001). By Neil Gaiman
Bel Canto (2001). By Ann Patchett
The Kite Runner (2003). By Khaled Hosseini
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003). By Mark Haddon (JMB 6/10)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004). By Susanna Clarke
2666 (2004). By Roberto Bolaño
Never Let Me Go (2005). By Kazuo Ishiguro (JMB 10/10)
No Country for Old Men (2005). By Cormac McCarthy
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). By J. K. Rowling
The Art of Fielding (2011). By Chad Harbach
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (2003). By Erik Larson
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005). By Joan Didion (JMB 10/10)

3 Lists
The Secret Life of Bees (2001). By Sue Monk Kidd
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003). By Audrey Niffenegger
The Line of Beauty (2004). By Alan Hollinghurst (JMB 8/10)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005). By Stieg Larsson
The Book Thief (2005). By Markus Zusak
The Thirteenth Tale (2006). By Diane Setterfield
The Name of the Wind (2007). By Patrick Rothfuss
The Hunger Games (2008). By Suzanne Collins
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008). By Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Help (2009). By Kathryn Stockett
Wolf Hall (2009). By Hilary Mantel
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010). By David Mitchell
The Night Circus (2011). By Erin Morgenstern
The Fault in Our Stars (2012). By John Green
Gone Girl (2012). By Gillian Flynn
Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000). By David Sedaris
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). By Dave Eggers (JMB 10/10)
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003). By Lynne Truss
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005). By Steven D. Levitt
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). By Michael Pollan (JMB 10/10)
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time
(2007). By Greg Mortenson

2 Lists (NOTE: Non-Fiction Only)
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
(2000). By Malcolm Gladwell
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000). By Stephen King
London: The Biography (2000). By Peter Ackroyd (JMB 8/10)
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001). By Barbara Ehrenreich (JMB 8/10)
John Adams (2001). By David McCullough (JMB 10/10)
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005). By Malcolm Gladwell
The Glass Castle (2005). By Jeannette Wells
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2006). By Elizabeth Gilbert
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). By Alison Bechdel (JMB 8/10)
Enrique’s Journey (2006). By Sonia Nazario
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007). By Naomi Klein
The Hemingses of Monticello (2008). By Annette Gordon-Reed (JMB 10/10)
Zeitoun (2009). By Dave Eggers (JMB 8/10)
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (2009). By Chris McDougall
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (2011). By Stephen Greenblatt
Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011). By Daniel Kahneman
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012). By Susan Cain
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). By Cheryl Strayed (JMB 6/10)