3. The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne franchise is largely credited for bringing the action-spy sub-genre into the post-9/11, 21st century landscape (even making an impact on the ever-lasting rival that is the 007 franchise), and The Bourne Ultimatum was the most sensational of the bunch.
Director Paul Greengrass really hit his stride with his shaky-cam presentation of this intensely gripping story, filming action sequences in new and interesting ways that have been mimicked by less successful action franchises in the years that have since passed. In Ultimatum, Bourne had come full circle, discovering his name, his past and himself as he returned to the United States in a bid to end the CIA’s search for him. The performances were good, but it was the visual experience and collection of story pay-offs that truly pushed this picture into any “best ever” discussion regarding action movies. The Bourne Ultimatum truly was the tastiest of desserts to the franchise’s original trilogy, and though the return of the universe in other ways would dirty the reputation of the Bourne name somewhat, there is no denying how much of a satisfying moment in time Ultimatum became.
Recommended for you: The Bourne Collection Ranked
2. There Will Be Blood
Perhaps the most difficult and potentially controversial choice on this list was the placing of this stone cold classic in the number 2 spot.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s beautifully photographed story of religion, power and greed was nothing short of stellar. If there was to be a list made of the top 10 movies of the 21st century thus far, There Will Be Blood would certainly be vying for the top spot just as bravely as it did here. This modern masterpiece is an incredible observation of the changes that a man can go through in the pursuit of what he perceives to be success – in this case money (in the form of oil) – and is headlined by arguably the best performance of Daniel Day Lewis’ beyond sensational career. The record holding Best Actor nominee at the Academy Awards won the Oscar for this performance – just one of a slew of awards won by the Brit that year, including; the Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG awards – and was a simply breathtaking presentation. There Will Be Blood also worked to showcase the emerging talents of Paul Dano, offering the young actor a shot at battling Day Lewis on the screen, a scenario in which he shined.
From top to bottom, page to editing room, There Will Be Blood was as well constructed as any movie on this list, and was just as much if not more awe-inspiring than the rest of its competition. There was only one film that could’ve kept it from the top spot and that was perhaps the most tightly knit movie of the century…
1. No Country for Old Men
“Violent, poetic, gripping” [Ian Nathan; Empire], No Country for Old Men was a chilling new-age Western from the masters of genre manipulation, the Coen Brothers. It was a movie that squeezed so relentlessly and without mercy that it left you exhausted.
The movie is led by some of the best casting choices and subsequent performances you’re likely to see, with Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson and Tommy Lee Jones each offering their own brand of world class acting in the midst of Javier Bardem’s once in a lifetime performance as the psychotic serial killer at the centre of the movie’s chase/thriller plot, Anton Chigurh.
Seemingly resigned to his own fate, Bardem’s Chigurh is frighteningly calm and calculated at all times, and is wonderfully centred within the on-screen narrative by the film’s always smart and intricate co-writer/directors. Bardem is so good in the role that he almost overrides the movie – and did win an Oscar for his work – but the true success of the film comes from the way it relentlessly advances the story, presenting you with facts and/or false information at critical times, and illustrating these moments with flurries of artistic flair that work to enhance meaning without removing you from the universe in which the characters reside.
No Country for Old Men contains meaning in every frame, sentence and exchange. It is widely regarded as the best Coen Brothers film ever, and is as pure of a landmark cinematic experience as you could’ve had in 2007.
We’re sure this list has stirred some controversy, so if you’re itching at the bit to correct any mistakes you believe we’ve made (or you simply want to get involved in a discussion), please leave a comment or tweet us.