Worthwhile, But Seldom Seen 21st Century Films

Posted on 26 Dec 00:00



The 21st Century has produced some of the greatest movies in film history. Countless movies have been written, directed, and produced. Some movies, in spite of receiving many awards, are not well known or frequently watched. These movies feature phenomenal casts, writers and directors. Here are just a few of such movies.

1)  Departures (Okuribito) (2008)

Departures is a Japanese drama film directed by Yōjirō Takita. The plot is about Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) a dedicated cellist, who finds himself unemployed after the orchestra dissolves. He and his wife move back to his hometown in Japan. Desperate for a job he applies for an ad titled "Departures" he thinks it is an ad for a position at a travel agency. He later discovers that the job is to prepare the dead for funeral and burial - a mortuary. The film perfectly follows the discovery of the dignity of the work and the eradication of prejudice against it.  Departures won the Academy Prize for Picture of the Year in 2008, and in 2009 became the first Japanese production to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

2)  Ex Machina (2015)

This movie was praised for its stylistic production and revolutionary CGI, and was directed by Alex Garland. The plot follows a devoted young programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) who receives an opportunity by his CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) to become part of a scientific experiment. The ground-breaking experiment is concerned with evaluating and assessing of a highly advanced humanoid artificial intelligence Ava (Alicia Vikander). Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is awed by the human qualities possessed by the A.I. He must deploy the Turing Test to judge whether the A.I is capable of thought and consciousness, and the test will be passed if he forgets that the A.I isn’t a human. The plot perfectly explores the aspects of what makes us human. The movie garnered various awards including the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The director Alex Garland also received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, while Alicia Vikander's phenomenal performance earned her a Golden Globe Award. 

3)  Enough Said (2013)

This romantic comedy-drama movie is directed and written by Nicole Holofcener. The movie follows Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) a divorced single parent and a masseuse. Her daughter is soon leaving for college and that is dreadful for Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). However, she quickly meets Albert (James Gandolfini) a sweet man with a charming and funny personality whose daughter is also soon graduating from high school and leaving for college. On the other hand Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener) a massage client. Marianne frequently talks’ trash about her ex-husband and Eva discovers the truth about Marianne’s ex. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won a Golden Globe for her spectacular acting in this movie.

4)  Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This movie is written and directed by David O. Russell. The movie was adapted from Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel. It is a romantic comedy-drama. The main characters are Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Pat, a man with bipolar disorder is sent to a mental health facility for attacking his wife’s lover. Eight months later he is released with the condition of moving in with his parents at their home in Philadelphia. He tries to get back with his wife by living a healthy lifestyle and looking for the ‘silver linings’ in his life. Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a widow, and together they both make a deal where Tiffany helps him get back with his wife and in return Pat will enter in a dance competition with her. The movie is a perfect balance of humor and poignancy. Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in this movie.

5)  Grizzly Man (2005)

This is a one of a kind documentary-drama film directed by Werner Herzog. The film deals with the life story of grizzly bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. The film uses Treadwell’s own footage of him interacting with the grizzly bears and interviews conducted with people who knew him. He was killed, along with his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard by a grizzly bear. The film perfectly explores his journey as a compassionate conservationist, and a devoted adventurer. The film taps into the interrelation between humans and nature and unravels its grim realities. This film is stunning from beginning to its tragic end.

6)  Spirited Away (2001)

This animated fantasy film is unique. Its witty animation style matched with the perfectly constructed story make this movie very worthwhile viewing. The movie is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away follows the journey of a 10-year-old girl Chihiro Ogino (Rumi Hiiragi) who while navigating through a new neighborhood stumbles into the world of Kami (spirits) of Japanese Shinto folklore. The world is ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, she and finds her parents turned into pigs. She meets the strange Haku (Miyu Irino), who explains that this place is a resort for spirits who are taking a break from their time spent on Earth. From there she sets out on a journey to free herself and her parents from this wretched place. Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and is still, to this day, the only hand-drawn and non-English-language animated movie to receive this award and the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.

7)  50/50 (2011)

This drama-comedy film is directed by Jonathan Levine. The film is loosely inspired by the true story of the film's write, Will Reiser. The plot is about Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a 27-year-old, who is a public radio journalist. His world is turned upside down when he learns he has a rare form of spinal cancer, and his struggle to overcome the disease.  He researches the internet and learns that his chances of survival are ‘50/50’. While battling the disease  together with his mother, best friend and co-worker Kyle (Seth Rogen), and his therapist Katherine (Anna Kendrick) , he learns the importance of things in his life including friendship and love. This movie is a balance of comedy and drama, and consistently heartwarming scenes. The cast, story line, and screenplay make this a most worthwhile movie to see.


This is a list of some of the greatest hits of the 21st Century that are worth watching.  Movie fans will be glad they took the time to see these memorable films.

Movie Buffs Forever stocks classic movies on DVD from the 1940's to the early 2000's. Browse our vast collection of old, rare and out of print classic movies on DVD.

Why We Still Love DVDs